It’s not often a single dish captures the character of an entire venue, and its owners. But Clement Labaere’s snail and mushroom ragout is as perfect an example of French-Australian fusion as you’re likely to find.
Labaere’s Central Market cafe – Maison Clement – bears little resemblance to the drab snack bar it replaced in 2018, beyond the tarnished edges of the deli-style fridges. Its look is simple and purposeful and tells something of the Labaere family’s story. A World War One map of Labaere’s birthplace, Hazebrouck, made by the Australian Army, hangs opposite a map of Australia from 1836 that was printed in France.
Personal touches like this run through the entire venue. In France, maison, meaning “house”, is combined with names or family names, to show businesses are family owned. Labaere runs Maison Clement with support from his wife Rosie.
When Labaere landed in Adelaide he worked at Brighton’s acclaimed Aux Fines Bouches before relocating to Cliché to establish the venue’s daytime menu and patisserie alongside head chef Fabien Streit.
Labaere is proud to be making a name for himself. He says a family business belongs in a market – alongside the fruiterers, smallgoods makers and dairy families. He even makes his croque monsieur like his grandma used to.
Traditional dishes like this – or the raclette and goat’s cheese on toast with potato, greens and walnut salad – sit adjacent to homemade granola and cereal with fruit and yoghurt on the tight one-page menu. The real action happens at the display counter, where Labaere’s talent as a pastry chef is centre stage. Everything is baked on-site daily and already most items are selling out.
Labaere gets fresh fruit and veg from neighbouring traders, but still procures specialty ingredients from further afield. The chocolate for his chocolate tarte comes from France, and he orders in butter from New Zealand – by 25-kilogram blocks.
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