How to lunch on a budget with French flair

I just love this place, it feels like Paris announced the well-travelled Montyandme2 as we walked into Libertine Bar and Restaurant at The Barracks on Petrie Terrace.

Surrounded by walls that could tell more than a few grisly tales, the red lampshades, gold leaf and sparkling chandeliers of Libertine set the scene for dining with a touch of luxurious decadence matched by a French-Vietnamese menu.

Libertine's courtyard entrance off Petrie Terrace.

Anyone for a chandelier?

Back in 1860, when public floggings and hangings were commonplace, almost ticketed events, The Barracks was the site of Green Hill gaol. The three-story brick Arts and Craft style building that now houses the restaurant was built in 1939 as a Depression project to house unmarried police officers and those on probation. What a mix!

It was almost the lunch that didn’t happen. In a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment we both stood at the entrance alone, waiting for the other to arrive until modern phone technology provided a simple answer. So, if you didn’t know it before, Libertine has two entrances. One off the tree-shaded courtyard filled with outdoor tables and chairs ready for an alfresco feast and a long, vine-shrouded loggia with more covered dining options. The more formal entrance positioned between Peasant and Los Villanos Mexican Kitchen, opposite Coles, leads into a hallway with a rather impressive staircase and the dining room proper.

The formal entrance to Libertine

The courtyard entrance to Libertine.

Finally found and seated on a cosy semi-circular leather banquette, it wasn’t hard to get into the mood for an extended chat over a long Friday lunch. I can’t remember many times when Monty has been stuck for conversation, and she didn’t disappoint with insightful tales about the perils of house selling.

First, we spent some moments checking out the impressive d├ęcor. When Monty says she likes the look, it’s a compliment to be valued. She has artfully arranged more collectables and memorabilia in her home, which looks like a photo shoot for Vogue Living than I have collected in a lifetime.

Libertine's chic red bar

Although there are many tempting dishes on the menu, including a share plate piled with twice cooked, free-range pork belly with a cognac and chilli glace and my favourite flavours of pickled watermelon and fresh mint, with crackling – I’m taking a deep breath here – I did concur that the lunch special could not be passed by.

Now that's a lunch special!

Where else can you enjoy a share lunch banquet with four dishes and a glass of house wine or Tiger beer for $29? The menu from Thai chef  Suwisa Phoonsang changes weekly, but we tucked into blue swimmer crab croquettes, turkey san choi bao, VFC (Vietnamese fried spatchcock) and Asian slaw . These are all regular items on the street food and shared plates menu. The flavours were fresh and the portions filling.

Blue swimmer crab croquettes

Turkey san choi bao

My fave was the crisp skin of the fried spatchcock drizzled with lime juice to cut the fat and just a touch of the house-made pepper sauce. Monty couldn’t stop raving over the crisp lettuce leaves and turkey filling for the san choi bao.

VFC (Vietnamese fried spatchcock) and Asian slaw.

A nice pinot blanc from the select wine list.

Even though it verged on piggery, we indulged with dessert sharing banana beignets. These doughnut ‘holes’ dipped in cinnamon sugar came with roasted coconut ice cream, mandarin syrup and chocolate soil and were an ideal share plate.

Banana beignets

I couldn’t think of a better way to share a lunch with my friend who I have known since I was 17. Good food, good company and a great location.

Ed+bK rating 3.9/5 stars 

Libertine Restaurant and Bar offers street food with flair in a luxurious and comfortable setting.

Best tip: There are two hours of free parking available underneath The Barracks. During game nights and Lang Park events, the parking fills up quickly.

Bottom line: A great value lunch that doesn’t feel anything but special. Available Tuesday to Sunday.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Eat,drink+beKerry and Montyandme2

Libertine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato