Good Food Guide’s venerable food critic, Terry Durack, recently described chef David Coumont as bringing a degree of professional finesse not often seen in the little dining rooms of suburban restaurants.
Moxhe (pronounced Mox) began its epicurean journey in Belgium and has now settled in Sydney’s Bronte. But a far less circuitous route awaits diners courtesy of a menu that’s skillfully short and sweet.
Coumont and his partner Helen Diab give us a taste of their culinary crossroads from both corners of the map.
What’s your earliest memory of food?
As a child I had my first degustation at a seafood restaurant with my godmother, and we ordered crayfish. They brought it out live to the table and I was so excited about seeing it all happening right in front of me. I remember the sweetness of the crayfish and just the experience of being in my first real restaurant stuck with me.
What food’s inspiring you right now?
Using lots of root vegetables and mushrooms as we head into the cooler months. I love to cook comfort food and it’s coming into the perfect time for it. I really follow the seasons when it comes to my cooking and adjust it with the weather change. I also go to the markets every week, so I’m really in touch with the produce and can see first hand what’s good to cook with now.
Tell us about the town of Moxhe. It’s a long way from one of Sydney’s tucked-away suburban restaurants.
It’s so tiny and so beautiful. I’ve travelled alot in my time, but I’m always super happy when I head back home. It’s near the city of Liège, but Moxhe is a country village with lots of farms. I think that’s why I’m so excited about fresh produce and am hands on with sourcing my produce. Because I was always surrounded by it.
How much does Belgian cuisine influence your menu?
I don’t have dishes especially from Moxhe, but I do have some Belgian touches on the menu. My smoked eel croquettes are a twist on a Belgian croquette using tiny school prawns. I also use Belgian chocolate in my desserts, serve mayonnaise with the fries and at the end of the meal I send a Belgian biscuit to every table called speculoos.
A Broadsheet article recently quoted you as saying you’re particularly proud of your crisp-skinned Hiramasa Kingfish.
I really like the density of Hiramasa Kingfish flesh and the skin. I love the fact that the fish can be cooked rare and it has quite a meaty flesh that tastes great.
Helen adds: The flavours of the Kingfish are amazing. David cooks it rare-to-medium rare. You can taste the freshness and full flavour of the fish. It’s also cooked with a beautiful crispy skin, which I’m a huge fan of, and it comes served with a beautiful grapefruit sauce, as well as a chicken jus.
With the notoriously tough-marking Durack also referring to Moxhe as a local hero in the making, Sydney’s eastern suburbs is fortunate that Coumont and Diab decided to bookend Belgium with Bronte via a menu that’s already shaping up as a modern classic amongst the city’s suburban restaurants.
Read about the European influences Union Dining’s Nicky Riemer brings to Modern Australian cuisine.
Comfort food’s on trend as we head into winter. Why not try Nicky Riemer’s warming pan-roasted Hiramasa Kingfish recipe.