North MelbournePROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
Libertine isn’t quite the den of free-thinking bohemia you might expect, but it’s not far off. It’s a small restaurant, housed in an old high-ceilinged Victorian building. The decor is rather fun, as if the place were much larger and grander than it is. There are rich fabric banners on the walls, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and big mirrors on the walls. Flaunting a combination of cosy and self-confident, the effect is very attractive. There is a real enthusiasm for dining in the French style.
The menu changes seasonally, with daily specials and a lunch menu that is adjusted weekly. In Nick Creswick’s capable hands, classic dishes are sometimes modified or slightly adapted to bring them into line with contemporary ideas. Begin with the terrine of the day or the mushroom pithiver, a pasty which is served on a bed of braised lentils. For your main course, try a classic eye fillet with bone marrow or the rabbit cooked two ways – confit leg and saddle en crepinette. The roast duck for two is a great way to get close over the delectable rich flavours. Wine is notably good here thanks to part-owner Zoe Ladyman’s excellent palate and knowledge, making Libertine a great place to explore lesser known French wines. Lunch at Libertine is such good value; it’s a steal at $29.50 for two courses and a glass of wine, or $36.50 for three.