Tag Archives: Degustation

IMG_1825

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.

IMG_1825

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.

IMG_1827

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

IMG_1829

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.

IMG_1831

 

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

IMG_1834

 

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.

IMG_1836

 

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.

IMG_1841

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

IMG_1843

 

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

IMG_0956

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.

IMG_0953

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.

IMG_0956

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.

IMG_0957

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

IMG_0905

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.

IMG_0903

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.

IMG_0904

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

IMG_0905

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

IMG_0908

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.

IMG_0909

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

IMG_0910

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

IMG_0911

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

IMG_0912

“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.

IMG_0913

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

IMG_0823

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.
IMG_0817

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.

IMG_0819

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.
IMG_0820

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.

IMG_0822

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.

IMG_0823

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!

IMG_0824
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.

IMG_0825

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.

IMG_0827

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

IMG_0828

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

green rice fried tiger prawns, butter lettuce and pickled daikon wrap, green chilli nuoc cham

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.

IMG_0556

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

IMG_0557

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

IMG_0558

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.

IMG_0559

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.

IMG_0560

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.

IMG_0561 IMG_0562

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

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

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

Earl grey ice cream, chocolate, Pedro Ximénez prunes & honey

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

strawberry medley with lime cake, lemon verbena and white chocolate espuma, meringue, strawberry ice cream

Ten Minutes by Tractor

Ten Minutes by Tractor is a gorgeous winery with a modern restaurant facing the hillside in which the vines grow.  Was there in summer for my mom’s birthday dinner, and it was an outstanding meal all around.   Each course was matched with a perfect wine from the winery.  As you can see from the pics, the food was beautifully presented and tasted fantastic!

We started with an amuse bouche of tuna tartare.   A small bite that packed a punch – lovely soft tuna, crunchy zesty apple.   Gotta say, I loved the presentation and the spoon in which the tuna sat in.

Amuse Bouche

For entree, I had the “seared tuna with sesame and bean salad, spring onion yogurt“.  It was tasty and light.

seared tuna with sesame and bean salad, spring onion yogurt

My sister had the “charred mackerel with ratatouille, lemon creme fraiche, tomato vinaigrette” and my mom had the “beetroot cured king fish with beetroot, avocado snow, celery panacotta“.  I had a taste of both and they were superb.

charred mackerel with ratatouille, lemon creme fraiche, tomato vinaigrettebeetroot cured king fish with beetroot, avocado snow, celery panacotta

For main, I had the modestly described “duck & five spice with fig, soubise, duck jus“.   Putting it out there that this may be the best duck dish I’ve ever had.  The duck was juicy and moist, with crispy skin and the accompaniments went perfectly with the duck.

duck & five spice with fig, soubise, duck jus

My mom had the “Flinders Island wallaby with parsnip, slow roasted grapes and walnuts” whilst my sister had the “Cape Grim eye fillet with beetroot, heirloom carrots, parsley emulsion“.  Again, I had a taste of both and they were fantastic.

Flinders Island wallaby with parsnip, slow roasted grapes and walnutsCape Grim eye fillet with beetroot, heirloom carrots, parsley emulsion

Given the meal was quite rich, I opted for a light and fruity dessert.  The “strawberry medley with lime cake, lemon verbena and white chocolate espuma, meringue, strawberry ice cream” was perfect!   Sweet, citrusy, fruity and creamy.

strawberry medley with lime cake, lemon verbena and white chocolate espuma, meringue, strawberry ice cream

My sister chose the “chocolate chiboust with Michel Cluizel chocolate, poached cherries, cherry sorbet, vanilla & kirsch espuma“.   She was happy with her choice (I declined to try any as it might have overwhelmed my dessert) and it looked amazing!

chocolate chiboust with Michel Cluizel chocolate, poached cherries, cherry sorbet, vanilla & kirsch espuma

In summary, the food was amazing.  The restaurant was lovely, good service, great wine and good value ($89 for 3 courses!).   In future if I’m ever in the region, I am booking myself in for a meal at Ten Minutes!

For more info and reviews:

Ten Minutes by Tractor on Urbanspoon

Flax and wheat "Kraft" paper with marine accents

Dining at the #3 Restaurant in the World: Mugaritz, San Sebastian

We were in San Sebastian in September 2012 and paid a visit to the #3 restaurant in the worldMugaritz .  The restaurant is a short drive out of San Sebastian, and as the party got into the cabs and headed up the hills, were heady with anticipation.   The scenery around the restaurant is breathtaking – rolling hills, lush greenery and fresh oaky air.  From the outside, the restaurant looks like a homely cottage but once you get inside, it’s bare minimalist modern furniture (but still very woody looking).

We were greeted by the wait staff and whisked away to a tour of the facilities and kitchen.   They showed us the working kitchen and gave us the spiel about the creative labs where they invent dishes.  We were then presented with macaroons that had a secret ingredient – blood!   If they didn’t tell me there was blood in there, I still would have picked it.   It had that metallic taste but was strangely sweet.

Chef holding macaron that has blood infused

First dish up was described as “edible stones” which was basically roasted potatoes covered in some sort of edible ash.   It tasted like an extreme potato (which works for me as I love potatoes!).

Edible stones

“Fishbones” with nuances of lemon, garlic and cayenne pepper” was an interesting dish – dried fish and bones which were crispy and salty.   We were served a mouthful but I could have had bowls of this stuff.  Would have worked wonders with beer.

"Fishbones" with nuances of lemon, garlic and cayenne pepper

The “flax and wheat “Kraft” paper with marine accents” was interesting – it really did taste like a sweetened sea.   Texturally interesting as well with the brittle paper.

SONY DSC

Carrots and their smeared flowers” was as described – delicious perfectly cooked carrots with a carrot sauce.  Also pretty as a picture.

SONY DSC

The “tomato and sweet garlic” rocked my world… the tomato was sweet and light and the black garlic was crunchy.  Both worked wonderfully with each other.
Tomato and sweet garlic... cremed legumes

The “tagliatelle of concentrated milk lightly soaked in a silky juice of roasted squash and tomato” really tested my taste buds.  It was really subtle but the textures was the surprising element.   The wrap was sticky and the tagliatelle was crispy and there was a creamy sweet sauce with it.
SONY DSC

The next dish that came out was the “cremed legumes”.  It involved us (the diners) pounding on sesame and other dried spices in a mortar and then adding a crunchy vegetable to it (turnips?) and a creamy brown sauce which was savory and piquant.  It was lots of fun grinding the spices up and making the tinkling sounds that vibrated through the restaurant!

green cheek peas in a gelatinous stew with resinous perfumegreen cheek peas in a gelatinous stew with resinous perfume

Interesting... mixed grainsInteresting... mixed grains

Following that fun dish, we had “portion of home-made cheese, cured in it’s own rind, mushroom and fleshy leaves “ which was like a mystery whilst we ate it because we had no idea what the cheese was made of!   Tofu?  Chocolate?  Plastic?   It tasted good, like an unwashed cheese but without the strong salty rind odours.

Portion of home-made cheese, cured in it's own rind, mushroom and fleshy leaves

Finally, a dish that was as described!  “Hazelnut and beans stew ” was a nice humble subtle dish.

Hazelnut and beans stew

Green cheek peas in a gelatinous stew with resinous perfume”… resinous perfume eh?  I was too afraid to ask how they made a resinous perfume…  so I didn’t and just ate my dish.  It was tasted good – good sturdy peas in a sauce that was like a hearty beef broth.

Green cheek peas in gelatinous stew with resinous perfume

The “coastal fish with crunchy trimmings of aged sourdough and aged sweet pickled onion” was sensational!  Perfectly cooked white fish with crunchy and tasty bread scattered on it.  Yum!

Coastal fish with crunchy trimmings of aged sourdough and aged sweet pickled onion

Roasted loin of hake with clashing grains of aged marapone, cauliflower and fresh almonds “ is one of those dishes that makes you think “wow”.  Very similar to the “marron, lychee, turnip, macadamia, celery” dish from my dinner at Loam.  It’s a nice piece of well cooked fish sitting under a sprinkling of shaved veges, nuts and grains which is a dry and crunchy in texture.  The texture and taste of the shavings brings the moist sweetness of the fish out.   Beautiful!

SONY DSC

When I saw “crispy sweetbread with house-made capers, bitter leaves and artisan praline” on the menu, I was a bit afraid.  I’m not normally one for sweetbreads.  But, I suppose if I was to have it, it would be at one of the best restaurants in the world (how could they not make it taste good?!).   It was delicious.  Tasty seasoning, texturally it was crispy outside and firm inside (so much more bearable for me) and in a small portion!

SONY DSC

The “crunchy terrine of iberian pig tails with a bunch of bitter leaves and Txakoli sediments” was totally unexpected (in a good way!).  The pig tails were made into a terrine and then finely cut and either baked or fried till crispy.  Tasted fantastic!

SONY DSC

The “toasted milk and butter with cheese shavings and frozen pear cream” was divine!  It was light, tasted beautiful and had great textures.  So, so good!

The “small bite of milky wafer with lemon ice cream” was good – sour and tangy ice cream on a sweet crispy wafer.

Small bite of milky wafer with lemon ice cream

I have no point of reference for a ““traditional” almond fairy cake” but was very sweet and lovely.  It was cold, almost like a ice cream.

"traditional" almond fairy cake

The next and final dessert, “candies of frankincense, the perfume of eucalyptus barks” was not the usual dessert.  For one, it looked like a pot of burnt incense.    And it smelt like bark and candy.  And we had to eat the sticks, which looked a bit scary, but tasted like musk sticks.  Interesting to say the least.

Candies of frankincense, the perfume of eucalyptus barks

Lastly, we were given scented hand towels (no, they are not edible!).  Nice way to wrap up the afternoon.

Scented handtowelScented handtowelScented handtowelScented handtowel

In summary, I really enjoyed the experience but I think some things were over complicated.  We were on holidays so I’m not sure if we fully appreciated the cerebral and intellectual aspects to the meal.  It’s a beautiful restaurant that serves beautiful food, but it’s got big competition in the little tapas/pintxos places in San Sebastian itself (some of which was extraordinary).   And I think we have food in Australia that equals or betters this (e.g.: Loam and Royal Mail).

Parmesan and Truffle Croquette

The Commoner… not so common!

Another visit to the north of the CBD takes me to The Commoner.   Had not heard a thing about this place, and had no idea what to expect so was thrilled to be served delicious food at an exceedingly reasonable price.   Like Estelle Bar & Kitchen, it was such a delightful surprise!

We were seated upstairs in the “Rabbit Trap” for a private dinner.  Nice little space upstairs, good atmosphere.  The service was great with the waiters and waitresses being very at tentative and being proficient in ensuring drinks were always topped up etc.

First up we were served “Boccerones – Sicilian White Anchovies on Crostini with Sweet Pepper & Aioli” which were salty goodness on a crispy crostini.

The “Parmesan and Truffle Croquette” were perfect little fluffy potato pillows… loved it!

Richard’s Surprise Peppers” well… were surprising!  There were some lovely mild sweet ones and there were some lovely set-your-tongue-on-fire ones.  Couldn’t help myself, I kept eating them!

The next item was interesting – “Chickpea polenta topped with zucchini and goats cheese“.  Doesn’t sound terribly appetising does it?  But it tasted better than it sounded (and ether than it looked).

We were then served a “glazed and smoked salmon served with crispy shallots” which was delicious.  Fish was cooked perfectly and was smoky in flavour.  Shallots and herbs added extra flavour and texture.

We were then up for more woody goodness with the “Wood Roast Baby Chicken, Pickled Butternut, Watercress, and Date Puree“.   Succulent and tasty chicken served with lovely veges on the side.

On to desserts!  “Beignet with Vanilla Sugar and Lemon Verbena Curd” was a great little sharing dessert.  By then we were moving around and chatting and this tasty little number was perfect for eating and mingling.

Last but not least, we had the “Chocolate Torte with Pomegranate Molasses, Rose Petals & Bloody Plums“.  Bite sized and rich, they were perfect with coffee and perfect for in size.

Overall, great food, great atmosphere and good service.  Croquettes were the highlight and there were no lows.

For more info and reviews:

The Commoner on Urbanspoon