It’s never good to see an owner/ operator business close but sadly, in this sometimes brutal industry, livelihoods go up in smoke while dull, cookie-cutter chain “restaurants” take over and flourish. One Brisbane inner-city suburb seems to be bucking this trend. On Given Tce, the main drag of Paddington in the city’s inner west, the Shingle Inn (which took over the space previously occupied by the cosy Lark bar) closed recently, as did the neighbouring Nando’s.
One restaurant on the busy strip has remained relevant for more than a decade. Montrachet, a Gallic bastion since Thierry Galichet opened its pretty glass doors back in 2004, is French to the core. It recently changed hands but you wouldn’t know it as very little has changed. The new chef/patron is Shannon Kellam, ex-executive chef of The Brisbane Club who twice represented Australia in the Bocuse d’Or culinary competition. The decor and front-of-house staff remain the same, as does the menu until you take a closer look and notice some subtle changes, dishes with classic foundations and a more restrained edge.
Confit de canard et foie gras ( right) sounds traditional enough but the duck is barbecued and shredded over a crisp, seedy (in a good way) salad and warmed foie gras. The vinegary spiciness of Alsatian red cabbage underpins the dish and curbs the overt richness of the duck and foie gras.
The longtime Montrachet favourite is the soufflé, often crab and gruyère, always gratinéed, super rich and delicious, and that hasn’t changed. Another of Kellam’s specials is pan-roasted Tasmanian lamb sitting over a slow braise of lamb neck and tendon, and a little ragout of ancient grains. This is a cracker of a meal and it screams quality in every aspect, from presentation and classical technique to its beautiful, raw ingredients.
The second-favourite Montrachet dish is the steak frites, and those who love it can rest easy as those thrice-fried fries and béarnaise or green peppercorn sauce aren’t going anywhere.
Kellam also designs a weekly “Supper Club”, an outlet for his more elevated style of cooking. On this occasion it’s a well-made cassoulet with smoked pork belly, Toulouse sausage, confit duck and white beans, and an entrecôte of milk-fed veal grilled with gruyere and lemon Viennoise and a fricassée of mushrooms.
As Kellam gradually merges his more intricate food with Galichet’s Lyonnais classics, Montrachet is set to move into a new era of continued commitment to quality in every aspect of the business. Service here has always been impeccable and it’s on track to stay that way.

LIZZIE LOEL - The Courier Mail, Manager