My mum's not as much of a foodie as me but every now and again, she'll give an excellent recommendation. I've been to a few 'training' food institutions before - namely the Mt Gravatt Tafe, Southbank Tafe and UQ Customs House. Most of these were good experiences so I was keen to try L'Acadamie which is the Shafston College's teaching facility.
The fact that sealed the deal was: $14.95 3 course meal. At that price, there's no reason not to at least give it a go. I made a booking for weekday lunch and it really wasn't difficult to get a table.
We drove and found some street-side parking. The meter had a 1hr limit which was pretty nerve racking. The hotel is reasonably easy to find and the restaurant is located behind the bar area.
The restaurant has a cozy, artsy vibe. There are classic painting with huge frames on the walls. This could have resulted in a dark, foreboding atmosphere but the place was also quite well lit. It was a comfortable dining environment.
After we were seated, we were shown a menu. There is a decent number of options to chose from for each course. Obviously Charlie and I went for different dishes so that we could try more things.
Each course arrived quickly. For entrees, I selected the chicken and bacon terrine. It was much larger than I expected and really quite tasty. The terrine on its own is beautiful but a bit full-on and salty for me so it was perfectly balanced by the tangy relish.
Charlie's salmon tarts were petite and very tasty. The accompanying sauce was lovely too - making this dish small but successful.
My main was the vegetable fettucine. I suppose I picked it in a bid to be healthy. It wasn't amazing but then again, I didn't expect it to be. For a purely vegetarian dish, it was quite tasty. The pasta was cooked well and the veggies were tender. The sauce was more tangy than anything else but I loved the bocconcini.
Beef fillet Cafe de Paris - eye fillet of beef cooked medium, with seasonal greens, potato, and garlic and herb butter
Charlie had chosen the steak. When he ordered it, I noticed the waitress didn't ask how he'd like it cooked. That should've been our first warning sign. They do specify in the menu that it's cooked 'medium' but it seems to me to indicate that the steaks aren't cooked to order. The steak was quite boring - dry, overcooked and small. It was 'saved' by the herb butter they used. The accompanying mash was also watery and bland. The menu said 'potato' but the texture wasn't smooth and it was so orange - I suspected pumpkin mash or even carrot. I didn't bother trying the greens.
I chose the passionfruit mille-feuille stack for my dessert. It's basically little puff pastry squares stuck together. Apparently there is passionfruit mousse there but it tasted like it was stuck together with sugary custard. The passionfruit sauce was really nice though and livened up this dessert. Though it sounds like I'm complaining a lot, the dessert tasted quite good. I would expect better from a proper restaurant though, especially if I was paying $16ish (as is usual for a restaurant dessert).
Charlie selected the cheese platter to finish with. It was small but quite comprehensive: crackers, savory crisps, small selection of cheese, fresh and dried fruits.
Overall, the service and ambiance at L'Acadamie Hotel was impressive. It didn't feel like a training restaurant at all. The food had its moments but some dishes (e.g. the steak) was a real let down. I'm not at all disappointed since the meal was so cheap but it's something they can work on in the past.
On a positive note, the food came out so promptly that we were done and out of there with 10min spare on the meter. Perfect timing!