Northcote has become home to French-Algerian restaurant Camus. After working in a couple of other Melbourne restaurants, chef Khodja decided to open his own restaurant, highlighting the food he knows and loves. We were seated close to the kitchen so we got to meet and chat with the lovely man who clearly has a strong passion for what he does. And that translates into the incredible food served at Camus. You can absolutely taste someone’s love for food through their cooking.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; when even the bread is remarkable you know you’re in for a good feed. The warm seeded bun with olive oil and toasted dukkah was a great start to the evening.
The burrata cheese was sitting on a layer of pumpkin puree with za’atar, fried coriander and a sticky sweet molasses sauce poured around it. It was a wonderful mix of textures and flavour. A good starter.
The scallops were seared to perfection, each side was golden and crisp and melted in your mouth. The braised oxtail was flavourful and gelatinous and the preserved lemon and little bits of pickled veg helped cut through the intensity. It was a delicious combination of flavours.
The slow cooked goat meat melted apart, it was beautifully tender. I literally pulled it away with a spoon. For some reason I thought it would have a strange flavour because it’s not a meat I eat often, but it was just meaty and tender and delicious so don’t be afraid. There were braised caramelised onions, sweet plump apricots and pops of pomegranate. Their sweet and savoury balance is on point. There was two crispy croquettes made with the best part of the goat and the sauce was delicious.
The kale, feta and zucchini borak was a tasty vegetarian option. The chopped filling was packed tight in a parcel of flakey filo pastry.
The roasted baby cauliflower was soft and easy to cut through and had melted pecorino cheese over the top with sweet raisins.
The quince tart was like a tarte tatin. The buttery pastry was topped with plump pieces of sweet quince covered in a sticky sweet caramel. I thought it would be a little bit bitter and tart but it was not. It had a quenelle of fig & star anise ice-cream on top, garnished with a chocolate dipped pocky stick. The star anise flavour was dominant in the ice cream and worked well to add spice to the sweet tart. Delicious.
If you’re like me, and chocolate is your spirit animal, then the chocolate platter is right up your alley. It’s an assortment of different chocolate inspired desserts. The first one we tucked into was the warm chocolate fondant, which had an oozing gooey chocolate centre. Then there was a beautifully bitter dark chocolate mousse bar with a dollop of sweet chocolate ganache and a sesame tuile. There was a light green pistachio mousse and a carob ice cream on chocolate soil.
And finally for the crème de la crème, Khodja’s signature Turkish delight soufflé. It had a beautiful rise and was like eating airy heavenly clouds with the perfect amount of rose water to give it a significant flavour without being too sweet. In the bottom there were a few little sticky Turkish delight bits. Love love loved it. It came with a halva ice cream and pistachio baklava, which was lovely. Next time I’m ordering this again but not sharing.
Camus is flavourful and creative. Their ability to balance savoury and sweet flavours was magnificent. The staff were friendly and welcoming, it was a lovely night indeed.
I heart Camus!