Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
With complete disregard for what I said in earlier columns about visiting cheap eating houses, today's review is of an expensive (by student standards! intimate restaurant.
Beauchamp ........ Tinakori Road.
The Tinakori Road area probably reached an all time low in the mid sixties with distruction of the area seeming inevitable in the path of road works. Today the place is on the move up, with houses and shops getting a face lift and generally the area takes a pride in itself. One such place is a converted shop now a small restaurant.
The door is kept locked but the sign says 'knock' - do it - and if you have booked you are greeted by name. If you want wine then the host makes a suggestion as to general type and you can whip across to the Western Park Tavern opposite to buy.
Once inside you have a small room with five tables, a dresser, a mirror, and a couple of pot plants. Taste' I think it's called.
|Soup aux tomates||$1.00|
|Terrine de foie de volaille au truffles||$2.00|
|Poulet normand Cotes de pore aux herbes||$4.50|
|Cafe parfait ou parfait au citron||$2.00|
The menu is in French and on a blackboard. Just as you are pooling your linguistic resources, the hostess arrives at the table, welcomes you, and explains the dishes one by done. This couple is all that there is. They cook and serve and take care of you. The hostess is the cook and takes an open pride in her cuisine recommending both main dishes with a heavy French-English be-aut-iful. We chose the Tomato soup. Pork dish with salad and coffee.
The soup was the first treat. Tomatoes cooked with onion and herbs then homogenized in a muelli or something then reheated with parsley. Hot and tasty. Good soup always puts you in a good mood. Poppy seed bread to go with it.
The pork dish was a pork chop cooked with garlic slices and herbs. Alongside sliced carrots and thin sliced potatos. It doesn't sound too exciting simply described, but the pork itself was incrediably sweet and tender.... like no pork that I've ever tasted. Adjectives cannot do justice to the skill performed on that meat... It was just as described by the hostess, be-aut-iful. The side salad consisted of an earthenware dish filled with tossed lettuce oil and vinagar, pepper and granules of cottage cheese. A cool crisp accompaniment.
The hostess returns to describe dessert parfaits and we settle for a coffee and whisky one. Arriving at the table in a silver govlet (the only extravagant table pieces), the dish is a coffee ice cream square with frozen whiskey on top.
The coffee ice cream is (I guess) frozen then the whiskey liqueur poured over the top and refrozen. The alcohol in the whiskey doesn't entirely set but is captured in an icey layer on top and once served soon melts over the coffee ice cream.
Coffee to finish although not included free (refills are).
The surroundings themselves were, as stated earlier, tasteful and relaxing. None of your boorish fake artifacts of hotel restaurants. There is no musak or background Mantras of any kind - and the peace is a joy.
The emphasis is on simple surroundings and quality rood. Beaucnamp is a case study on the possible nature of service in an egalitarian society. They show that neither subservience nor exploitation need play a role in a small business such as this. The couple are openly and justifyably proud of their skills and extra efforts are made to share them. The menu changes daily but each day at least two alternatives are usually offered in each course. It is wise to book. Wine is of your choice, that is B-Y-O.
But there is a special note to be made with this report. As usual it is a description of the place as I found it on the night. With previous restaurants I have left it at that and luckily most comments have more or less agreed with mine. In the case of Beauchamp however, opinions differ sharply in one respect.
Two separate accounts have been made to me of small parties that have been made to feel uncomfortable and in one group they felt they had to walk out.. They say that they were not pissed or loud and I believe them. A certain caution then for the volitile nature of the hostess.
If you wish to receive personal service by those who take a pride in their work then it is on the cards that the same almost intensive relationship may result in you getting attacked (verbally). After all a proprietor-cum-chef-cum-waitress will not be a social eunuch - serving you with the fruits of her skill and work - but without any outbursts of agression. Justified or not.
In the alternative - if you can't internalise all that sociological stuff, just remember:
"All French are crazy - so watch it!"
As to the cost and value for money and all that stuff. To students I recognise that it would probably be a rare occasion. At around $8 - $9 you want to be able to relax and get something that you couldn't prepare yourself. All I can say is that the meal at Beauchamp was a treat and if you are not too battle scarred to enjoy a treat, try it.