Earlier this week, four of us went to The Little Snail Restaurant and Bar to celebrate my closest uni friend’s birthday. It was one of those characteristically perfectly sunny Sydney days with deep blue skies (though my noob photo editing shows otherwise), and all of us needed time to slow down and rant about our respective degrees – pharmacy, nursing, law.
Walking into The Little Snail, I felt more at peace already. A curved wall of windows, open and airy atmosphere, simple furniture, and a few paintings here and there. Lovely. The service was also remarkable – snooty Frenchman waiters? Non, jamais! Every single French-accented waiter was patient, helpful, and friendly enough to joke with the table next door and compliment our attempts at French pronunciation. Did I mention they all have French accents? Luscious.
Head chef Stephen Lee’s menu offers French as well as modern Australian options, and I liked that the mains consisted of all different kinds of red meat (beef, lamb, veal, kangaroo, duck). Personally not interested, but there are also seafood and vegetarian choices. A complimentary sugar-rimmed glass of orange rhum punch made for a sweet, citrus palate cleanser, and as one of the first tables to arrive the ready-to-go entrees were served quickly. I’m glad all four of us got a different plate, because most were quite rich. I’d never had escargot before and imagined them to be slightly tough or squishy, but the escargot de bourgogne were pleasant and not at all unpalatably textured. Dipping crostini (stolen from the paté maison plate) and soft mini baguette slices into the court-boullion rich with butter and herb flavours was just divine, and probably much better etiquette than slurping it down directly from the plate.
The salmon roulade I ordered was also delicious, and the salad and dressing worked well to balance out the richness of the generous amount of herbed cheese mousseline. I loved the small heap of tiny fried potato strings on the salad. I can’t really speak for the paté maison or boulette de fruits de mer as I don’t enjoy paté or seafood, but I didn’t dislike them which is saying something. The girls really enjoyed them though~
The mains were even better than the entrées – I couldn’t fault how each piece of meat was cooked. The paired sauces also went perfectly, and with each chew the juices of the meat mingled with the sauce was such a pleasure to savour. The cassis and raspberry sauce on the magret de canard was unique – strangely almost slippery texture but sweetly berry flavoured and wonderful with the juicy breast meat. The duck skin wasn’t crispy as advertised, though. Ah, and the potato millefeuille and pommes boulangeres – deliciously crafted accompaniments for the meats.
The desserts unfortunately were disappointing after the first 2 crowd-pleasing courses. Honestly, it’s rare for a restaurant that offers mains, desserts, and cocktails to please with all 3 categories – I know of only two establishments. The desserts were by no means unsatisfactory, just not as great as the previous dishes. The sticky date pudding was the most popular between us but it’d be better if the scoop of ice-cream was much bigger to balance the very sweet, warm dessert. The profiterole was generously filled with crème patisserie and I thought the minty chocolate sauce went well. The banana liqueur crêpe was an unexpected mochi-like sack and I enjoyed scraping out its sweet innards, muhaha.
Overall I (and the girls) loved The Little Snail and walked out in far higher spirits than when we entered. It wasn’t mind-blowing but still, it exceeded expectation which counts as a success. The dishes and the pleasant atmosphere and staff made for a stress-relieving, delightful experience. I recommend the escargot, salmon roulade, loin of lamb and magret de canard, and will be back again to try other options. Like the kangaroo fillet, which a lady at another table audibly declared as “delicious”.
If you can make it to lunch, The Little Snail offers 3 courses for $36. Although not every dish on the dinner menu is available for lunch, you still save $23 for a good selection.