12 Oct Fortify Bar & Restaurant, Armadale
An avid traveller, Adam Davies has spent many years working and travelling abroad in countries including Mexico, Japan, China and France. His two years living and breathing French hospitality in Lyon led him to open Fortify in Armadale. He brings all of his experience together here at Fortify, where he acts as Executive Chef, aiming to bring us French dishes that you wouldn’t easily find in Melbourne – Alternative French, if you will.
The Gin & Tonic Oysters are a light and refreshing way to begin our tasting menu; they even come complete with a pieces of thinly shaved cucumber on top. Next, the Cognac and Saffron Lobster Bisque with wild tiger prawns, its complex flavours due in part to the flamed cognac and Iranian saffron.
A trio of fried snacks soon follows, matched with Italian pinot gris. The wines are well priced, partly because of Fortify’s specialisation in Italian wines, which are not only very fine drinks, but also better value. The Dauphine potato croquette, topped with slivers of prosciutto, is incredibly smooth. The choux pastry included in its mixture adds extra decadence in flavour and texture. Lamb Croquettes are made using slow-cooked lamb shoulder, garden herbs and panko crumbs. It’s paired with dill mayo. The panko crumbed Truffled Mac n Cheese ‘arancini’ balls are filled with sauteed onions, garlic, bacon, cheese, then finished with bacon on top. White truffle oil adds that little bit of something special.
Pan-seared scallops a L’ancienne are cooked with French butter, garlic, dry white wine, paprika and cayenne. The fresh seafood is sourced from Rottnest Island. Lemon provides a nice counterpoint to the buttery sauce.
Parisienne Roasted Corn-fed Pistachio Duck is the first of the larger dishes we try. The organic duck breast is seared with thyme and orange, and teamed up with a tangy Bulgarian black cherry and marmalade jus. The sweet caramelised pistachio crumble adds in extra texture.
The 48-hour Beef Bourguignon has been slow-cooked with herbs, carrots, onions, mushrooms and Beaujolais for 16 hours, rested then cooked further. The result is superbly tender and flavourful cubes of beef that’s eagerly enjoyed with bread.
14-hour lamb shoulder is slow roasted in herbs and botanicals, then shaped and given a panko crust. It comes with accompaniments that embrace a few of the five basic tastes, including salty kale with sauerkraut, sweet ginger bourbon carrots, pickled fennel, and Bordeaux red wine jus.
We then indulge in an incredible mini platter full of premium international cheese. The Mixed Charcuterie today includes: truffled Italian salami, dry aged wagyu salami, Veneto salami, honey quince, triple cream brie, blue, gruyere, camembert, 12m vintage English cheddar, 12 month aged manchego, goats cheese, and the delicious non-pasteurised Salers cheese.
There are a few desserts, such as the rich Caramel Chocolate Fondant that oozes with salted caramel chocolate after being cut open, and the lighter option of the Floating Island – a dessert of soft and foamy meringue floating on a sea of creme anglaise, drizzled with molten caramel.
The Sticky Date Pudding Lyonnaise also has caramel drizzle and creme Anglaise, some more of those caramelised pistachios, and vanilla ice cream topped with Scottish tablet – a dense confectionery that tastes a bit like butterscotch. There’s a bit of cognac in it, lending the pudding a unique flavour. With all these elements you’d think it would be quite sweet, but it turns out to be wonderfully balanced. Sparkling sake is an unusual match, but it’s a light and refreshing drink that’s perfect for the final course.
Fortify is a casual place that’s open till late, with happy hour from 4-6pm. Pop in to indulge in some wine and bubbles, and a delicious and different side of French cuisine.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Fortify as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
Fortify Bar & Restaurant
963 High St
Armadale, VIC, 3143
(03) 9822 0382