Tag Archives: Degustation

Bowled away by Champions Bistro (aka Clayton Bowls Club)

I rushed to book a table at Champions Bistro after the article appeared in the Age in Nov last year and had to settle for a weeknight dinner as all weekends were booked out till March.  At that time, the chef and his lady love were supposed to leave Australia after that and head off to South America so there was no time to waste in getting a table.  Since then, they’ve extended their gig at the bowls club, so don’t rush people, plenty of seats for all!

I was very impressed by the food, and loved the juxtaposition of the location.  Fine dining at a humble bowls club in good old Clayton.   I am a bit over the minimal descriptions of food, but in this case all is forgiven as the food delivers.

It was love at first sight for me when the “crispy chicken, sour cream, onion, chive” starter came out.  Anyone who serves me crispy chicken skin I will love till my dying day.

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Deep fying “beef tendon, native pepper leaf, lime” means you get something totally unexpected from just reading it off the menu.  Again, a very good dish and intriguing start to the evening.

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Another pretty and unexpected dish:  “raddish, smoked butter, pork“.

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Now, I would have never put this combo together, but the “lamb sweet bread, leek, tatsoi, mussel, grape” seemed to work.  Lamb and mussels….  right.  Bear in mind, for me to say this dish was okay is big praise considering a) I only eat sweetbreads when it’s cooked really nicely and b) I don’t eat mussels.

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Mmm this was delicious.   Soft, delicate and tasty:   “Southern squid, buttermilk, kohlrabi, cabbage

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Upgraded the menu and go the “Aaco Darling Downs Wagyu Tenderloin BMS 7/8, pear, Tasmanian wasabi, daikon” dish.  It’s a small dish but because it’s so rich and packed full of flavour, it was the perfect amount.

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This was described to us as a fancy vegemite cheese sandwich, and it was!  “Pynegana cheddar, vege paste, crackers” was delightful!IMG_1839

The “smoked chocolate, tarragon, malt and black truffle” dessert was good, but compared to all the other dishes we had that night, it was like a big clumsy giant as it was too big!  And eating so much truffle on a dessert dish really freaked me out.

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Finished off with a beautiful light dessert of “summer corn“.  It was sweet and creamy and cold.  Delightful.

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Loved dinner here.  They don’t do matching wine’s but there’s a good little wine list.   They’ve upped the price since the article in the Age (and why wouldn’t you?) so don’t expect a $50 dinner (it’s $80).  Totally worth it and I’m totally going back!

For more info and reviews:
Champions Bistro on Urbanspoon

Crabapple Kitchen trip to Burgundy

Was at Friday Night Flights at Crabapple Kitchen for the trip to Burgundy.  We googled the food of Burgundy before the night and we pretty much got Burgundy’s greatest hits for the dinner.   It was amazing, as always!  Great value for money, good wine and great service.

Started with delicious “Gougeres – little savoury golden choux pastry treats filled with cheese sauce” – puffy cheesy goodness.

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The “Beef & burgundy sausage with puy lentils, spinach, mustard sauce and parsley” was devine!  Beautiful tender sausages with a mustard sauce and rich lentils.  So good!IMG_0955

The “Jambon Persille – pork and parsley terrine served with cornichons and Dijon mustard” was a fresh and salty terrine.  Different to most other terrine’s I’ve had, in that it wasn’t heavy or too rich.

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The “Oeufs en Meurette – eggs poached in a red wine with mushroom and tarragon sauce” was beautiful!  Silky red wine sauce with a ridiculously rich taste.

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Coq au vin – chicken thigh slow cooked in aromatic wine with mushroom and carrot puree” was very tasty and rich.  Beautiful sticky glazed chicken….  Yum!IMG_0961

The old “Boeuf Bourguignon – Beef cheek with button mushrooms, smoked bacon, shallots and potato mash” was a lighter version than what I’ve previously had, but it packed a flavour punch and the beef was very tender.IMG_0962

To end the meal, we had to have the “Rigodon-Brioche, hazelnut and cinnamon pudding with pouring cream” dessert which was buttery and light.IMG_0964

Thank you Crabapple for taking me on such a wonderful culinary journey.  Food was absolutely perfect and I felt like I was in Burgundy for the evening.

For more info and reviews:
Crabapple Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Remarkable dishes at Sepia

Was in Sydney for a weekend trip to celebrate a friends birthday and the celebration dinner was held at Sepia.  Quite a prestigious little place, restaurant of the year and three hats.  Had the degustation with matching wine, and in hindsight, each dish was amazingly complex.  And the degustation was very well harmonised and built up with each course.

The dinner started with a delicate little dish: “udon, smoked roe, tomato“.

Udon, smoked roe, tomato

Sashimi Yellow Fin tuna, Jamon Iberico, apple, daikon, white sesame cucumber and sake, wasabi” was texturally interesting.

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Winning dish of the night:  “sashimi of bonito, flavours of roasted chicken, umeboshi, upland cress, green tea, nori“.  Maybe dish of the year.  The sashimi is topped by crispy chicken skin, and the cream at the centre of the plate taste like the best roast chicken in the world.

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Yabby, seaweed puree, ginger, shellfish and blood orange emulsion, sorrel“:  Sweet yabby in a thick emulsion… crazy textures, with a complex taste.

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Glazed smoked fresh water eel, sushi rice, shiitake mushroom, garlic emulsion, green apple, pickled aka seaweed“:  taste like an upmarket version of eel sushi!

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Chargrilled wagyu rump, sea urchin and wasabi butter, garlic chive mustard leaves, ponzu“:  this was amazing.  Salty tasty butter with a beautiful piece of meat.

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Sansho seared Mandagery Creek venison, beetroot butter, horseradish chestnut mushroom“:  Pretty as a picture, and great tasting.

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Palate cleanser:  “Meyer lemon butter, ginger bread crumb, sheep yoghurt sorbet, fennel, olive“.

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Gorgeous “strawberry and yuzu bomb” dessert – was like a surprise with each bite.

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“Winter chocolate forest” Soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, orange and thyme cream, sour cherry sorbet cocoa brandy jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs:  Complicated and yummy dessert.

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Food was beautiful, service was good (but could be better) although perhaps looking after such a big party is challenging.   We had a group of 14, and dinner took about 6 hours.  Service was good, but there were a few hiccups.  For example, were were given bread between the third and fourth course (which had a significant wait).

Would I recommend Sepia?  Yes, not only was the food excellent, there were some really clever elements to it (fish and roast chicken!).  I look back at the experience and think that there were so many dimensions (lenses!) to each dish – texture, taste, colour, smell.  Quite remarkable.

For more info and reviews:
Sepia on Urbanspoon

Jacques Reymond… over overindulgence…

Decided that winter in Melbourne is too dreary and that I needed some “highlights” to get me through. Hence, we decided to have an extra special date night at Jacques Reymond. Last time I was at Jacques it was about 4-5 years ago, and I remember the first time as being excellent. This time round, perhaps I am a different type of diner now, the wow factor wasn’t quite there.

Degustation started with a appetizer of cheesy puffs (there’s probably a more fancy name, but whatever!). Had a lot of these during the last holiday in France, so knew what to expect – soft fluffy shoe pastry filled with cheese! They were delightful.
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The “clear broth of shiitake, fragrant lemon balm, clams” was a beautiful subtle dish, with the broth being very flavourful with perfectly cooked clams. IMG_0818

The “yellow fin tuna, smoked salmon mousse, spiced nougatine, togarashi, lemon caviar” another subtle dish. Interesting textures with raw fish, mouse and a jelly like sheath on top.

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Nothing makes me happier than perfectly cooked fresh fish, and the “King George whiting, acidities of pickles Japanese style, yuzu” dish delivered on that. The pickles elevated the fish to a whole new level.
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Gotta say, I love dishes that combine seafood and poultry. “Cuttlefish, pork and crispy chicken skin” was an excellent dish which was so tasty, I was scraping the bottom of the plate to get all the sauce. Finely sliced cuttlefish and pork with a super tasty broth/sauce topped with a think piece of crispy chicken skin – yum!IMG_0821
Parmesan custard, green peas, macerated grapes, wasabi and apple granita” = palate cleanser to get us in the mood for the meat dishes. I’d describe this as cold, cleansing and sour-ish, with pops of peas.

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The “salad of Flinders Island lamb, smoked eucalyptus scallop, scampi, masterstock jelly” was a nice little dish that showcased the lamb whilst incorporating lightly cooked seafood.

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The “Sher wagyu a la plancha, burnt onion and coffee” was delicious. A perfectly cooked piece of beef, however, I wish it came with more sauce and a few more things to accompany it!

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Dessert number one was “Camargue organic red rice, champagne, Yarra Valley berries” which had nice textures in the semi crispy rice and cold berries and sorbet on top.

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Dessert number two, the “spiced cherries, chocolate and chestnut mont blanc, bay leaf and cassis” was fabulous. Little things on a plate that went perfectly together, and was not too sweet for me.

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Finished off with the generous petit fours, including Spanish donuts!

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Overall, the dinner was good, but there were a few things that I thought were a bit a miss. The biggest one being when we decided to order the degustation (which is in the $200 per person mark), we were asked if we would like to include truffle with the beef course at an extra $50 per person! I don’t know what was worse… trying to be up-sold truffles or that it was $50 per person!

The food was well presented and immaculately prepared, service was good and atmosphere was a bit stiff. Would I revisit? Probably not for another 5 years. Would I recommend you go? Nope, there’s more exciting dining for more reasonable prices in Melbourne.

For more info and reviews:
Jacques Reymond on Urbanspoon

Dandelion

Went for a group dinner to Dandelion and chose to have the 7 course menu aptly named “The Sea”.   The description attached to the menu was “Vietnam has 3260 km of perse coastline. This menu is a seafood lovers dream. Luxury and quirky ingredients, simply and lovingly prepared”.

As we are all foodie gluttons, we also opted to add “The Age Good Food Guide Dish Of The Year – BBQ Pork spare ribs with a refreshing lychee and mint salad” to this feast.  I was so excited about that dish that I scoffed it down before I could get a picture!  It was good, but I’m not sure if it warrants being the dish of the year.

First up, we had “coconut roast rock lobster rice paper roll with rambutan and Thai basil, coconut chili sauce“.  Was a fresh tasting entree.

coconut roast rock lobster rice paper roll with rambutan and Thai basil, coconut chili sauce

Next up was “green rice fried tiger prawns, butter lettuce and pickled daikon wrap, green chilli nuoc cham“.   Crunchy and savoury.

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The “Morten Bay bug salad with pomelo, spearmint, chilli and lime juice” was delightful.  This is a winning combo which can’t go wrong.

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The “diamond clams steamed in a lemongrass and chilli broth” was lovely.  Clams were delicious.

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Todays seafood selection from the coconut grill with our own herb and spice rub, wrapped with citrus leaves” was prawn and fish, which were both fresh and well cooked.

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The last main before desserts was the “claypot of smoked eggplant, black vinegar, spring onion, chilli“.   Mmmm I love eggplant and this dish was awesome.

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The description for dessert was “Che co hai ‘aunty 2’s che’ toddy palm, grass jelly, jackfruit and jasmine scented syrup , avocado sorbet” but we got two items.   I’m not even going to try to figure out which was which.  All I’ll say is that they were good, even though I’m not usually a fan of Asian desserts.

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Overall, food was good but if you’re after a substantial meal, go for something else.  I have mixed feelings about this dinner.  The seafood was fresh and aplenty, but it felt like there was something amiss.  Perhaps that I didn’t feel the “lovingly prepared” that the meal had promised.

For more info and reviews:
Dandelion on Urbanspoon

ezard, an Oldie but a Goodie

Dined at ezard for my birthday this year, and gotta say, I was a bit worried that the restaurant might have dated but was pleasantly surprised.  Last time I dined here was about 4 years ago and whilst the menu stays true to it’s original style,  you can see/taste the newly incorporated elements.  Had degustation with matching wine, and gotta say, I love it!

First up, we had  “Japanese inspired swordfish shooter” (left) and a piece of sashimi (right).  Was delicious.

japanese inspired swordfish shooter" (left) and a piece of sashimi (right)

We then had “citrus and vodka cured salmon, black quinoa, olive oil jam, smoked yoghurt, tangerine vinaigrette“.   Clean, fresh and tasty.

citrus and vodka cured salmon, black quinoa, olive oil jam, smoked yoghurt, tangerine vinaigrette

The “steamed spanner crab dumpling with yarra valley salmon roe, chervil cress and tom kha” was a lovely subtle dish with a delicate little dumpling sitting in a mild cocunut curry sauce.

steamed spanner crab dumpling with yarra valley salmon roe, chervil cress and tom kha

The “salad of target beetroot, asparagus, serrano jamon, parmesan custard and white truffle vinaigrette” was light and tasty.

salad of target beetroot, asparagus, serrano jamon, parmesan custard and white truffle vinaigrette

The “crispy skin baby barramundi with caramelised eggplant, tomato and lime salad, yellow curry dressing” was perfectly cooked fish with a tasty curry (and rice on the bottom).   This was my favourite dish of the night.

crispy skin baby barramundi with caramelised eggplant, tomato and lime salad, yellow curry dressing

The “slow cooked pork belly, apple pudding, fennel, white peach and calvados jus” was super tasty, but I did find my piece of pork a bit chewy.

slow cooked pork belly, apple pudding, fennel, white peach and calvados jus

We chose the “eight score sher wagyu beef, potato terrine, garlic and red wine jam, mushroom soil, bordelaise jus” as our main and it was amazing!  The beef was so perfectly cooked and melted in my mouth.  Actually, I think this was my favourite dish of the night.

chinese style roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and asian greens

Finished off the night with the “ezard dessert tasting plate to share” which was a collection of miniaturised desserts.  All very good, and a nice variety of desserts.

ezard dessert tasting plate to share

All up, a great dinner.  Food was tasty and looked pretty as a picture.   Can’t wait to revisit in a few years time!

For more info and reviews:

Ezard on Urbanspoon

Amazing food at Cutler & Co.

I was totally blown away by how great dinner was at Cutler & Co.  Whilst many rave about  it, I had my reservations as my first and only visit years ago was very average.   Perhaps back then it was opening month and they were still sorting out teething issues.  My boyfriend booked it in for our anniversary dinner (thank you!) and we had a smashing time.   The food was amazing, the wine (and sommelier) was perfectly matched and described, and service was great.

Started with an appetiser of “tapioca chips with seaweed and eggplant puree” which was so, so good!  It was crispy, tangy and salty.   My boyfriend normally doesn’t like tapioca & seaweed but devoured this.

tapioca chips with seaweed and eggplant puree

First dish up was the “diamond shell clams“.  The clams had a strong clam flavour (in a good way) which made them very tasty and thy were enhanced by pickled onion.

Diamond shell clams

We then had the “smoked trout, rye & avruga” which was basically smoked trout and horseradish cream sandwiched between the thinnest crispiest rye bread.  A great classic combo.

Smoked trout, rye & avruga

Bonito sashimi, avocado, sorrel & cucumber” was a lovely light sashimi with avacado and pickled cucumber.   It had a soft creamy texture with good flavours, and a very pretty dish.   It was a subtle understated dish, not the star of the evening but still lovely.
Bonito sashimi, avocado, sorrel & cucumber

Peas & zucchini, sunflower seeds, onion & bergamot” is lovely fresh peas in a very tasty broth.  Again, a very pretty dish.  My boyfriends comment for this dish was “nice way to get me to eat my vegetables”.
Peas & zucchini, sunflower seeds, onion & bergamot

The “WA marron, wagyu bresaola, iceberg hearts & whipped cod roe” was sensational.  The sweet succulent marron with salty bresaola and crispy chips…  omg!  Boyfriend also loved it and “could have eated a hundred of them”.

WA marron, wagyu bresaola, iceberg hearts & whipped cod roe

We moved on to the meat dishes and started with “smoked & fried duck, morcilla, carrot and gingerbread“.  There was a lovely smoky duck, a crispy confit leg with salty goodness, and delicious blood pudding. It was a really rich dish, so the serving size was perfect in that it left me wanting more.

smoked & fried duck, morcilla, carrot and gingerbread

Last dish before dessert was the “wood grilled wagyu rump cap, hay baked carrots & ash“.  The beef was a bit chewy (not my favourite cut of meat but cooked well) but the sauce and carrot puree was amazing.

wood grilled wagyu rump cap, hay baked carrots & ash

The “wild strawberries, buttermilk snow, sour cherry & shortbread” is my kind of dessert.  Strawberries were fresh and light, and the cherries provided a nice pop.
Wild strawberries, buttermilk snow, sour cherry & shortbread

Lastly we had the “Earl Grey ice cream, chocolate, Pedro Ximénez prunes & honey” dessert.  The Earl Grey tea ice cream was amazing – the dry tea flavour goes perfectly with chocolate and supersweet prune.  The multiple textures and flavours were definitely a winner.
Earl grey ice cream, chocolate, Pedro Ximénez prunes & honey

So my faith in Cutler & Co. has been restored and I am now a devoted follower.  The food was outstanding, wine was outstanding, and service was good and attentive.  Can’t wait to go back!

For more info and reviews:
Cutler & Co on Urbanspoon