35 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
It was a privilege to finally see the fabulous Lee Young perform in the upstairs cabaret room at the fine French restaurant, Claire's Kitchen.
At age 90, and born on the same day and year as Mickey Mouse, Lee gave us a glimpse into his experiences as an entertainer all over the world.
As well as singing "I Belong to Glasgow" as he translated it to Afrikaans, a killer version of Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” and other numbers in English and Spanish, we heard stories about his professional and personal relationships with Danny Kaye, Peter Sellers, Marlene Dietrich, Vera Lynn, Warren Mitchell, Margaret Rutherford, Edith Piaf, Frankie Howerd, Judy Garland, Richard Burton, Sir Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and a host of others. I lost count of the names we had to pick up off the floor.
We also found out that Lee was the world’s first professional male stripper and that he started his career in a pantomime called “Dick Whittington and His Cat”, playing the Cat. He performed in numerous productions and a score of years later, ended up playing the lead role in that panto. Lee said that he took twenty years going from pussy to dick. It was difficult to work out whether or not euphemisms were in play.
Lee is the consummate performer and raconteur who can still do the moves, hit the notes and have us seeing pictures through his words. I have a short attention span but could easily have sat there for hours, chin on knuckles, listening to the stories.
The venue, Claire’s Kitchen, creates superb French cuisine. For the entrée, my companions had the rich French Onion Soup with Gruyere crouton, an amazing Double Baked Three Cheeses Soufflé, the Crispy Zucchini Flower filled with French Goat Cheese served with Red Pepper Coulis. and I had the Roasted Scallops with Pumpkin Sabayon. Although the zucchini flower itself was dominated by the other ingredients, all entrées were delicious.
For mains, we had the Duck and Pinot Noir Pie with Brie and served with Potato Mash, and Atlantic Salmon and Prawn Roulade with Leek and Peas Risotto and Crab Beurre Blanc. There was plenty of duck in the pie and the salmon was perfect. Two of us had the Fillet of Beef Chateaubriand Bearnaise with Truffle Potato Mash and Green Beans. The beef was tender and and the beans were beautifully crunchy. All of the dishes were cooked to perfection and were full of flavour.
The Assiette Gourmande (in this case a dessert tasting plate) consisted of a mini salted caramel eclair, chocolate fondant, passionfruit tartlet, macaron and mini brûlée, a fitting climax to a creative and delicious meal. Each sample could have proudly stood alone.
The combination of an entertaining and enthralling reflection on an incredible career (so far) and superbly executed French cuisine made for an ultimately enjoyable evening that tantalised all of the senses.