The Great Mellie is in the somewhat quiet façaded backstreets of breezy Fremantle.
I have unknowing walked past this little sapphire of a restaurant many times, and not really taken in the old worldliness of the simple décor nor the plain face of which stares to the street. By contrast the exuberant bar-goers of the Orient next door are always successful in their distractive repellence, ensuring the Great Mellie remains off track—of sorts.
Owned by chef–maître d, husband–wife team it’s traditional French in the angle of dishes with an Asian tone. Frederic trained in Lyon and worked in Michelin starred restaurants before a move to Hong Kong then Japan.
This is evident in the flow of dishes that came from the Chef’s Discovery Menu ($115 per person). It consisted of five courses, not including the amuse-bouche of the most piquant cream of mushroom soup I’ve had to date.
Stand out dishes were crisped skin Red Emperor in shimeji mushroom dashi on risotto galette, and the “Crazy Quail” roasted breast and leg on warm asparagus, quail egg and truffle quail jus.
They were distinctive, pure and layered.
Like all degos, servings are torturously small but over 5 courses and wine, they do take their toll. Service sadly was wooden, nervy and just didn’t carry a level of confidence given the calibre of the courses.
On the wine front, it’s BYO ($5 per bottle corkage), so you can whip out dust covered something that was reserved from a special evening. For me it was the Bouchard 1er cru Volnay Taillepieds 2005 Côte de Beaune Burgundy to say happy birthday to Miss Handmaid.
And when you think about it, how many other places can you get fine French food and take a bottle of what-ever-you-want?