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Paris by Bitton

Here is a recipe for success. Take one French-born chef, trained in Paris, relocated to Sydney, with years of further experience there. Add his wife, born in South Africa of Indian heritage. Mix with a tiny cafe in a suburb several kilometres from the nearest dining strip and leave to simmer and brew for over fourteen years. 

This makes one very successful cafe-bistro, French to its foundations, packed with a range of Bitton Gourmet products that not only walk out the door all day, but which are sold in prestige outlets worldwide. In addition, you have a clientele that feel more like family members, and an ambience and cuisine that makes a true Francophile week at the knees. 

It was an audacious move for chef David Bitton to leave his role as executive chef in a top Sydney restaurant and set up in business on his own. But now, a decade and a half later, with the cafe almost twice as large as it was to begin with, cookbooks and a product range achieved, and another French chef on the payroll, it was worth all the hard work.

Always looking for another angle – a new selling point – this year's Bitton-bait is a series of dinners featuring the cuisine of various regions of France. It was a no-brainer for David and his new chef, Parisian protégée, Leonard Michaud who arrived earlier this year, to decide that the French capital should lead off.

The moment this dish was placed before us, we were enveloped in a haze of truffle aromas. The thinly shaved scallop and leek mouthful (St Jacque avec poireau vinaigrette) was a decadent beginning. Bitton has left any chauvinism he may have ever had behind, and pronounces Tasmanian truffle as 'the best'.

And next, what else but a meltingly fragrant soupe a l'oignon, French onion soup bearing the requisite slice of crusty bread topped with molten Gruyere? Fine French wines accompanied the meal, bien sur, and there was even our favourite French mineral water, Badoit.

For the night itself, the cafe was dressed up for fine dining.....

....and the kitchen was the scene of controlled concentration.

In keeping with the themes, the main of roasted veal was perfectly paired with a puree of petit pois à la Parisienne, pommes Anna and perhaps the finest, richest jus in town.  

David Bitton (left) and Leonard Michaud relaxing after the meal.

Of course no French meal is complete without a dessert, and tonight we had two – a version of Paris-Brest complete with the story of how the dish came by the name, told by the waiter as he delivered them to our table.

And then the final flourish – a berry granita.

More dinners are planned for the remainder of the year, celebrating other regions of France. With this winning combination of chefs, expertise, imagination and sheer joie de vivre, it seems this pocket of France in Alexandria will deservedly become even more popular.

Bitton Cafe & Bistro,  36-37a Copeland Street, Alexandria, phone +612 9519 5111. Open: Monday & Tuesday - 7am to 4pm; 
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday - 7am to 9pm
; Saturday - 7am - 9pm; 
Sunday - 7am to 4pm. 

- by Sally Hammond (pics and video: Gordon Hammond)

*********************************

David Bitton is more than just a chef. Over the last two years Team Bitton have raised $90,000 for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and this year (being their final ride) they're fighting to reach their biggest goal and raise a grand total of $120,000.

The money raised for The Ride will benefit the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse at RPA, a world-class cancer treatment and research facility providing integrated care and support services to public and private patients.

Find out how to DONATE NOW HERE!

 

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