Tag Archives: Degustation

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


Loam… Amazing!

Got taken to Loam for my birthday!  It was truly spectacular!  Beautiful countryside, great looking restaurant,  great service and sensational food!  Some of the food combos were mind blowing, and they were all well balanced and enhanced the flavour of the key ingredient.

The menu has an interesting format, in that they have a list of ingredients that are in season and that will be featured in the dishes.  All you have to do is specify how many courses you’d like to have.  We all know I’m a glutton, so it was 9 course for me, plus matching wines.

Before commencing, we start with bread and a few munchies.  The butter that went with the bread was so good – it was house churned (hence it was soft and fluffy) and smoked.  I don’t normally eat more than 1 slice of bread but on this occasion I had 3 slices as the butter was so good!  We also had cured mussels, parmesan biscuits and salmon jerky.

First up, we had the “cuttlefish, ink, unripe tomato“.   The cuttlefish was marinated in squid ink and sat in the tomato consume, topped with a cuttlefish cracker.  The unripe tomato consume packs a punch, but the star of this dish was the cracker which contrasted with the silky texture of the marinated cuttlefish.

The “marron, lychee, turnip, macadamia, celery” dish was mind blowing.  The marron and lychee were covered in macadamia shavings which meant that when you took a bite of it, it dried your mouth out a bit before hitting it with the juicy sweetness of lychee and marron.  Phenomenal.

The “snapper, black russian tomato, basil seed, samphire” was a beautiful panfried snapper in a tomato consume with basil seed and packed a lemony punch.  Good looking dish which tasted great too.

The “shiitake, cheese rind, onion, cucumber, tea tree fungus” dish had oven roasted shiitake mixed with onion, onion flower and lebanese cucumber atop a cheese rind custard.  Surprisingly a light dish which smelled amazon.   Mushrooms never tasted so good.

Next up was the “pork jowl, watercress, pear, lettuce hearts, purslane“…  the pork had been cooked for 17 hours and then pan fried to crisp it… delicious!  Best pork I’d ever had.  Amazing.

The final savoury dish was the “wagyu rump, avocado, veal tongue, saltbush, thyme” which consisted of crispy shredded veal tongue and saltbush leaves sitting atop a perfectly cooked piece of meat on avocado purée.  Again, amazing.

The first of the desserts was “mauri taleggio, fermented cabbage, raw honey, pollen“.  The picture below shows the fermented cabbage sitting atop the taleggio.   The taleggio is from Northern Italy and the cabbage is fermented for 10 days in the same bacteria as the cheese (yup, the chef told me himself!).   As a cheese lover, I loved this dish.  The cheese was amplified by the fermented cabbage – stinky and amazing!

Next dessert was “fig leaf, molasses, wild plum, mint, spiced bread“.   The parfait was fig leaf, with a crystallised sliver of molasses on top.  This was topped by the wild plum with spiced breadcrumbs around it.  This dessert came with an elderflower liquor as the acommpanying drink and the combination was fantastic.

Last dish for the night was “berries, rhubarb, pine yoghurt, wild fennel, milk“.  The rhubarb came in the form of sorbet and was surrounded by berries.  Crispy milk skin sat on top and on the bottom was a goats milk yoghurt.  It was a nice light end to the fabulous dinner.

Overall, the dinner was amazing.  I honestly can’t fault anything about the whole experience.  To top it off, as it was my birthday, I got to visit the kitchen at the end of the night and have a chat with the head chef (Aaron).  It was such a great experience!  One last photo, and that was the lovely little lemon tarts that came with our coffee.  One last time… amazing!

For more info and reviews:
Loam on Urbanspoon

Or The Age review!

Atlantic – 5 Course Crustacean Celebration

My first visit to Atlantic was so great, I had to go back again ASAP!  I discovered that there was a 5 course “Crustacean Celebration” on at the end of Jan, and booked it in!  Service was friendly and efficient, setting was gorgeous and atmosphere for a Monday night was bustling.

First course was “Golden Beetroot Carpaccio – spanner crab, basil, lemon, beetroot jelly“.  The crab and beetroot were both sweet, which was offset and balanced by the burst of lemon.  It was a great start to the 5 courses.

The “Raviolo of Scallops and Coriander – sauce jacquline” had a wonderfully round and firm ravioli, surrounded by a buttery sauce with veges hidden underneath adding a crunchy texture.  The sauce was the outstanding element that brought the dish together.

The “Slow Cooked Morton Bay Bug Tails – confit fennel, cherry tomatoes, black olive oil, tarragon” good, but unfortunately not my thing as the bugs were slow cooked and therefore very soft in texture.  Looked amazing though!

The next dish, consisted of the most exquisite and perfect lobster I’d had in awhile… “Roasted Tasmanian Crayfish – wagyu beef cheek, kipfler potato, brown onion marmalade, red wine bordelaise“.  The lobster was fresh and had that wonderful taste and consistency.   The sauce, onion marmalade and potato mixed through mashed potato were perfect companions.   Wow and wow.

Dessert was “Honey and Goat’s Cheese Parfait – citrus sable, summer berry salad” which was a nice light way to end the 5 courses.   Pretty as a picture, and tasted lovely.

Overall, Atlantic has stolen my heart.  I’m thoroughly in love with this restaurant.  Sure some may hate on it as it’s a bit pretentious and expensive, but the food is outstanding in freshness and quality, and the cooking is executed well.

For more info and reviews:
The Atlantic on Urbanspoon

Estelle Restaurant & Bar… great new dining experience!

Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve been so thrilled by a restaurant.  I’d heard good things about Estelle Bar & Kitchen prior to going but the dinner itself was spectacular!  I was there for a friend’s birthday dinner which started out in the sunny courtyard for a few drinks then up to the private dining room.

Prior to the degustation starting, we were given little snacks… I don’t quite remember exactly what they were but they were very good, especially the little sticks (bottom right of the photo below).

Dish 1:  Beetroot, ashed goats cheese & orange.  A light start to the meal, well balanced and tasty.

Dish 2: Smoked eel, camomile & carrot.  The eel was delicately smoky and offset with the light camomile cream.

Dish 3: Yellowfin tuna, horseradish & red cabbage, or blue eye bakala, fennel & lemon.  The tuna was superb – it was coated in what seemed like mini rice crispies which had a wonderful texture.  The blue eye was salted and had a great tangy lemony flavour.  My understanding of “bakala” is that it is a Portugese way of salting fish.

Dish 4: White asparagus, 63 degree egg & brioche crumbs.  Most of you would know that I don’t eat eggs, so I had a different version of this dish was which topped with a cauliflower sausage (I initially thought it was silky tofu).

Dish 5: King salmon, peas, mint and purple shiso. Fish was perfectly cooked, flavours were in harmony.  A fantastic dish.

Dish 6:  A taste of new season’s lamb, or saddle of kangaroo, celeriac & baby turnips.  The token meat dish both were cooked superbly and with lovely accompanying vegetables.

Dish 7:   Strawberries, basil & vanilla.  Lovely icy dessert to ease us into the sweets.

Dish 8:  Summer berries, rose & musk.  I love this dessert.  It looks beautiful and it tasted fresh and summery.  The chips of rose and musk atop a berry ice cream and fresh berries – yum!

Dish 9:  Sour cream, pumpkin & salted caramel.  Soft pieces of cake topped with sour cream and pumpkin and caramel sauce – it was a nice way to end the dinner.

These words describe my overall experience of Estelle: delicate, enchanting, and well balanced.  This is a great dining experience, and at a very reasonable price for the quality of food.  Get in there before it gets too popular!

For more info and reviews:
The Estelle on Urbanspoon

Love affair with Hubert Keller…

There was only one place I wanted to go to in San Fran, and that was Fleur de Lys.  And I wanted to go because I love Hubert Keller.  Hubert is another Top Chef Masters contestant that I fell in love with during the first season.

The restaurant was beautiful and the service was imppecable.   It was like a well oiled machine, even down to the coordinated direction in which the waiters/waitresses would walk.  We had the 5 course degustation, and it was spectacular.  Given the dim lighting, my pictures didn’t turn out too well.  Needless to say, most dishes came with foie gras and truffle!  The top dish of the evening was the “seared fillet mignon with a lobstered truffled mac and cheese en brioche“.  As you can see from the pic below, the dish was pretty as a picture.  That’s the perfectly cooked piece of beef on the left, with a lobster tail on top of it, and the truffle infused mac and cheese (with lobster chunks mixed through) on the right.  Excessive, yes.  Delicious, yes.

Mr.Keller also has another restaurant in the city of San Fran – Burger Bar.  I decided to have the most epic burger available, which was “Hubert Keller Burger” consisting of buffalo, caramelised onions, baby spinach, blue cheese on a ciabata bun with a red wine shallot reduction.  It was divine!  Blue cheese and buffalo?  Love it!   Perfectly rounded off with a side of fries, onion rings and beer!

Oh Hubert, my love for you only increased during my dining experiences!  Till next time mon cheri!

More info and reviews on Fleur de Lys:
Fleur de Lys on Urbanspoon
More info and reviews on Burger Bar: 

Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Whisked away to Sydney…

I am a lucky girl indeed, to be flown up to Sydney for my birthday to dine at Guillaume at Bennelong.   I do love the French.

We stayed at the Hilton Sydney, which is a favorite of mine.   I love the minimalist rooms, the location and the general aesthetic of the hotel.  Our room was upgraded, and it included a television in the bath!

Finding Guillaume was a tad tricky.  Between the Japanese tourist, the harbour bridge, and the Opera House, it was not easy spotting the signs and entrance to the restaurant.  However, when we did eventually find it, we were promptly ushered to our table with stunning views of the bridge.

Amuse bouche was a tuna tartare, which was buttery in texture and melts in your mouth.  The tuna was housed in a crunch cone, which added a lovely crunch to it.

The first course was a delightful salmon sashimi, to which my partner commented “they made cold fish taste good”.  My opinion was that it was delicious, but perhaps a bit too many peripherals.  As Coco Chanel said, when you walk out of the house, take one accessory off!

Next up we had a “Royale of Asparagus”, which was perfect!  Sprinkling of crab meat atop asparagus pieces, and custard…  perfect flavour, texture and balance.

The token scallops on cauliflower puree was next, which in my opinion was executed beautifully, however, it’s a dish that’s been done lots before and therefore perfection is expected.

The next dish, was the surprise star of the night.  John Dory with carrots.  It was cooked perfectly, and tasted amazing.  Loved that the dish had 3 different types of carrots.

Last but not least, comes the meat.  I hate to say, but I was terribly disappointed with the duck dish.  I adore duck and pinot noir, but this dish did not do anything for me.   I was so excited about the duck dish, that I didn’t even take a photo!  I so desperately want to love it…  Redemption came in the form of wagyu.  The final dish, 10 grams of wagyu packed a serious punch.  The mushrooms and mash were to die for.

Last but not least, came dessert in the form of a passionfruit souffle.   Tasty and light, a great ending to a great dinner.

No visit to Sydney would be complete without a visit to Adriano Zumbo’s Patisserie.  I think the pictures below speak for themselves…

 (25 Feb – 28 Feb 2011)

More info & reviews on Guillaume at Bennelong:
Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon

More info & reviews on Adriano Zumbo:
Adriano Zumbo on Urbanspoon


Degustation delight in Port Fairy

Drove 300kms to Port Fairy to dine at the divine Merrijig Inn, and it was totally worth it!

The accommodation was bare basics and sufficient, but the food is really what it’s all about!

Merijigg Inn Room

Naturally, we had to have the Chef’s Tasting Menu consisting of 9 courses with matching wines.

The first thing to grace our table was the delightful potato bread, along with creamy and salty butter. You know you’re in for a good thing when the bread that comes out is sensational.

The surprise amuse bouche was a honey, carrot, and ginger soup, which was a nice tasty mouthful. The other surprise was the beef tartare on toast – spectacular!

And then we start the degustation… some of the comments we had during the dinner…

Course 1: smoked eel and trout, horseradish cream, . Drink 1: Champagne. Comments: “fabulous” “tasty” “good size”.

Course 2: crayfish, roe and sea foam. Drink 2: Riesling. Comments: ” Spectacular” “Plenty of crayfish” ” Interesting textures”

Course 3: baby abalone, smoked bacon. Drink 3: something Spanish. Comments: “Fantastic” “Dishes keeps getting better” “Good garlic cream”

Course 4: Blue eye and calamari done 3 ways (normal, consomme and tapioca). Drink: Chardonnay. Comments: “Awesome” “Keeps getting better” “Perfect amount of lemon zest” “Had seaweed in it” “All just perfect”

Course 5: Squab, baby beetroot, cherries. Drink: Pinot Noir. Comments: “Squabtastic. Too many beets.” – GW (he doesn’t like beets!), “amazing. Loved the thigh meat. Great beets.” – me!

Course 6: Wagyu eye fillet, grains. Drink: something from Italy. Comments: “tasty and delicious” “not the pinacle of the meal, that was the blue eye and calamari”

Surprise pre-dessert desserts: Blue cheese, walnuts, and honey. Goats cheese ice cream with raspberry granita and mixed berries.

Course 8: Flowers nectar petals. Drink: iced reisling. Comments: at this point, I probably had too many drinks…

Course 9: Chocolate, cherries, fig leaf. Drink & comments: I have no idea…

In summary, the journey was well worth it. This was the best degustation I’d had in 2010. The courses was a cohesive journey, that kept reaching new heights. Whist the mains could have stopped at the blue eye, and the desserts should have kept to the flower, nectar and petals, I’d still give this a 9 out of 10.

 (13 Dec 2010)

For more info and reviews:
Merrijig Inn on Urbanspoon