Friday, November 25, 2016

Stillwater (Launceston Tasmania) 07/2016

Chefs endeavouring to lift themselves above the ruck have a massive problem. It's the competition. There are so many really good chefs around today.You can't get fresher, better more outstanding ingredients. Everything is available to every body. Venues and ambiance can be as smart as you like there are many fine sites. Waiters can be impeccable and personable, sommeliers excellently informed and informative but in the end it comes down to how the menu is designed, how the food is prepared and how it is presented.
Stillwater does not seem to have changed much in the 20 years since I was here last. The room is the same, the view no different. There are some innovations. They offer a whisky flight and also a range of cognacs. Also their glassware is now really fine. A glass of wine  is a pleasure to drink from one of there Glazer glasses. I saw their old glasses for sale at the fancy Providor, upstairs - for my money they can keep them!
Their food was very good but 
i have no idea where the pic's are!

 Score: 15/20

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hellyers Road Distillery (North WestTasmania) 11/2016


There are a lot of things to be really surprised about this place.
Firstly, in less than 10 years it has established an excellent reputation, around the world for it's whiskies.
It's owned by the milk company, Betta Milk, next door. This is handy because the cows can indulge themselves on the barley left after the distilling process.
Visitors can taste almost their full range for as little as $4 a nip or $2 a half nip. What's a nip?
30 ml.
Hellyer was a far sighted important figure in Tasmania in the late 1800's who, unfortunately, took his own life well below the age of 50. There are dozens of places around Tasmania that carry his name, indeed Burnie was once called Hellyer Bay.
The last odd thing I would mention is that they have a restaurant which is well attended by bus loads of tourists BUT hardly any of them drink the whisky!
I didn't come by bus, drank plenty of the whisky and also ate at the restaurant!
This is a large, airy, open area with walls of glass looking over rolling green hills. 

The settings are simple with bare wooden tables with a glass set on a corner of a serviette at each seat. 

The menu is quite extensive, (I've left a pic of most of the menu at the end of this review which you can enlarge by clicking on it if you wish.), with a good range of Tasmanian and other wines and beers. It is distinguished by to the offer of a variety of whisky flights. I had the Flight Deck which consisted of a half nip of their 10 year old Original, a Pinot Noir finished, a Peated and a nip of Original whisky cream. $11.90

If you want to know a lot more about these look them up on the I'net. 
I am not usually a whisky drinker but I must say each of these was distinctly different. Flavours of whiskies are created by leaving them, for some months, in casks formerly used for wine, sherry or port. I could not tell if the Pinot had the characteristics they detect, but be that as it may, they were all enjoyable, smooth and interesting. The Peated whisky had an unmistakable, powerful, smoky aroma and flavour.
i settled on the baked Rainbow trout with Tasmanian scallops on a bed of potato cake and finished with a creamy leek and bacon sauce and cherry tomatoes.

 They also provide an empty plate for the fish bones.

It was a particularly good dish. Every element was really excellent. I ate it with the greatest of pleasure.



As I had the Original whisky cream I decided to have a dessert. Called Hellyers Road Indulgence Tart it ia a takeoff of the Bannoffee pie. Layers of Salted caramel, banana panacotta, and Anvers chocolate in a crispy tart shell accompanied by a Hellyers Whisky ice cream.

This was a very rich dessert but what was most unfortunate was the panacotta was leathery hard and the tart shell too thick and hard.
Score 15/20 but I will go there again!
The menu, and a few extra pic's.



   One of the bond stores

 Barrel whisky, between 64% and 66.5% proof!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Syracuse (Melbourne CBD) 11/2016



In the last part of Sandra's Master of Arts in Gastronomy she did a long paper on the move towards savoury in desserts, the place of umani in modern Western cooking and the process by which chefs develop new dishes.  As well as reviewing masses of literature this involved interviewing dozens of chefs. All gave generously of their time. Several of stood out in their deep knowledge and thoughtfulness or because of their approach to the questions. Philippa Sibley 
Philippa Sibley

was one of them. 
We have, unashamedly taken some of the photographs and information about Syracuse from their site.
Phillipa has, to coin a phrase, a wonderful pedigree.
Her cooking career commenced in Melbourne in the late 1980‘s with acclaimed chefs Stephanie Alexander and Tansy Good. Her fate as a pastry chef was sealed by work in London at Le Gavroche, Est, Quaglino’s and Harvey’s (with Marco Pierre White) followed by her appointment as Chef de Partie at three Michelin star La Côte Saint Jacques in France. Back in Australia in 1996, Philippa opened est est est, followed by Luxe in 1998, and then Ondine in 2001. All three restaurants collected three hats in The Age Good Food Guide, and est est est and Ondine the coveted Best New Restaurant award. Her work at Ondine earnt (sic) Philippa The Age Good Food Guide Chef of the Year Award 2004. Philippa’s has cooked in some of Australia’s finest restaurants, more recently, as first Executive Chef at Albert St Food & Wine (awarded a hat in The Age Good Food Guide) and then at Prix Fixe, in Alfred Place, Melbourne. Philippa was Time Out Melbourne’s Chef of the Year in 2014

Philippa is co-author of the “Marriages est est est cookbook” published in 1999 (when est est est was described by the New York Times as “the restaurant of the moment”). While dessert junkies’ prayers were answered by Philippa’s second book, “PS Desserts’ (published in 2011), her third book,”New Classics”, puts a PS contemporary mark on savoury and sweet classics

Syracue's dining room evokes a wholly other time and place.

Originally an hotel and then a bank the ornate archways, soaring ceilings and curving chandeliers of a 19th century hotel lobby create a stunning impression of grandeur, though soft lighting and an assortment of antique tables and chairs keep the mood romantic and welcoming. Wine bottles displayed in various nooks and crannies hint at Syracuse’s vast and varied wine selection,

which the food menu is designed to match. Philippa Sibley is one of Australia’s leading chefs. Best known as a pastry and dessert specialist, Philippa’s solid old-school training and respect for timeless, classic cooking techniques has steered her reputation as “Savoury Queen” status equal to the sweet. Her focus is on seasonal, sustainable ingredients from local producers and “marriages of flavours: tomato and basil; mushroom and game; peach, raspberry and vanilla. Strawberries and cream. I’m a sucker when it comes to the old school, I just like to put a new spin on it.

We had the pleasure of eating at est est est and Ondine many years ago but did not get to Luxe or Prix Fixe while Phillipa was there but we were very keen to try Syracuse. It certainly is a lovely looking venue with well spaced white clothed tables.
We were going to start with a French champagne but the sommellieur talked us out of it for another french bubbly. Strangely, whilst we were all happy with it, he returned to suggest it was not quite as it should have been and would we like him to change it! We kept it and happily finished the bottle.

Asparagus soup with spanner crab was a delicious creamy start to the meal. 

Liver pate was surprisingly delicate.

If you like pate you would enormously enjoy this one with it's light flavour and creamy consistency.

Bread was, as always, too moorish with accompanying crudites.
My wife was quite wrong when she assured me I would not like a serve of ancient grains. 
Mine and theirs!
I loved them.
 I was not quite so lucky with the sirloin, which was cooked exactly as requested, but was rather tough and gristly.
Mine and theirs again!

Murray cod, on the other hand, was totally delicious. 
Lightly baked it's character was quite different from my previous experiences with this fish and again quite excellent.
 This sort of deconstructed pavlova 

with a basil flavoured panacotta was outstanding and there were no complaints about this rhubarb tart.

Score 15.5/20

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cutler and Co. (Fitzroy) 09/2016

I'ts many years since we ate at C &C. The venue looks much the same 

but the food was something else. Sunday lunch is a set course menu ($75), described as five courses with five matched wines ($50), if you wish, which we did.
the first couple of dishes were quite simple and simply delicious, visually appealing they blended flavours which not only produced immediate pleasure but also introduced a keen anticipation for what was to come.




















Comments Score:16 /20

Monday, October 31, 2016

25 (South Yarra) 10/2016

This place looks quite elegant and their internet site suggests that they are a cut above the average. (And so do their prices)

On the night we ate there we found a few problems. the waiters were abrupt, snatching away the menus, and, on the other hand, over familiar, putting a hand on one of the guests shoulders as though he were a friend. Not a good start.
they have a pleasant salad.

An entree of snails in a pastry covered pot with tarragon and garlic in a white sauce

was unusual and very nice.
Scallops, all four of them, 

with a cauliflower puree were very ordinary.
This king fish carpaccio with lemon dressing was good.

Main courses left a lot to be desired.

Confit of Duck with kipfler potatoes, orange sauce $36

was dry and stringy.

Ottolenghi style crispy pork belly with star anis & citrus sauce $36 was also desperately over cooked and missed the rich fat that makes this so tasty.

Lamb chops. Probably the best of what we ate.

Nothing like overcooked fish!
Desserts were rather good.
Pear Tarte Tatin

ticked all the boxes for me, 
but the souffle was a bit too sweet.

 In all I found this experience extremely disappointing.
Score:13 /20