Thursday, January 10, 2019

Provenance (Beechworth) 01/2019

The entrance to this highly regarded regional restaurant, which has featured in the AGFG for almost a decade, and is currently rated 30th by Gourmet Magazine in Australia's top 100 restaurant, is through an impressive very large wooden door down the side of this former bank building.
Spread over a number of rooms it retains something of the grandeur of the original building with  a combination of wide square doorways,

20 ft ceilings, with rosettes 
and large arched windows.
 Table are bare with simple settings.
The chef offers á la carte or a tasting menu. $125 for six courses with some extras available. Matched wines add $75 or $125 for premium wines. They have an extensive wine list with a good range of sake which fits their Japanese influenced menu.
I was pleased to see a glossary of sake terms included in the wine menu.
The wine menu is extensive with some concentration on the region but I elected to have sake which was beautifully presented.
 A very much to my taste house made sourdough bread was served early with a cold smoked creamed butter. If you like that sort of thing this was out of this world. My mouth waters thinking of it.
 I skipped the optional starter of home made silken tofu dish with cucumber, ginger and kiriboshi but added a garfish with its grilled bones.
 Just a mouth full, full of taste and crunch.
First course was slow cooked carrots, lavender infused buttermilk, pumpkin seed crumble, pumpkin seed oil.
 The carrots were firm, the pumpkin seeds crunchy but it was hard to distinguish the lavender flavour.
Sashimi, ponzu, wasabi leaf pickle, cold pressed sunflower oil followed.
 The kingfish was as it always is with an interesting contrast with the citrus tasting sauce and the sweetish pickles.
Smoked wallaby tartar, Japanese fish sauce and egg yolk dressing, cured mullet roe
was a benign sort of dish, pleasant and inoffensive as long as you find raw meat to your taste. It was well balances so nothing dominated.
 Free range duck, beetroot, pickled cherry (which had then been dehydrated), umeboshi
was another very appealing dish however a small fly managed to get into the sauce. I moved it to the side of the plate and called the waiter. He quickly removed it and offered to replate the dish. I said it was Ok so he didn't do anything more. I believe that, in any quality establishment that would have been unacceptable and the dish would have been removed without allowing the customer to continue with it.
Tri Tip, silverbeet, Café de Tokyo butter, presumably the chef's joke, a variation on Café de Paris butter
was exceptionally tasty although it had quite a lot of gristle in the meat.
I skipped the optional cheese dish and went on to dessert.
Leaves from the garden, raspberries on a cream base behind sheets of meringue.
 A pleasant dessert.
This was another of those unique meals. I suppose in a way every meal is unique but some are more so. As such the are hard to compare to other unique meals. The dishes were very interesting. They were not over the top with a myriad of ingredients. The hero of each dish was made more interesting by its accompaniments, never dominated by them. I very much doubt, as good as it was, that it belongs in the top 100 restaurants in Australia but it certainly is a very good restaurant.
Score: 17.25 /20

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

miss Amelie (Woodonga) 01/2019

Woodonga, in Victoria, is a twin city with Albury, separated by the Murray river that forms the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Neither of them are noted foodie eating stops but miss Amelie was recommended. It lives in a former railway station

which has been refurbished into a clean but unexciting restaurant.
had only two dishes - local asparagus coddled hen's egg cheddar custard, black olives, potato chips,
 a riot of colour, taste and texture that I thoroughly enjoyed and spanner crab and bug tail spaghetti, crayfish bisque pangrattato, a fancy name for breadcrumbs,  parsley, chili, garlic
a dish I regard as showing a total disregard for the fine and delicate tasting seafood. The ingredients were excellent but the combination turned this sea food pasta into just a pasta in a sharp sauce.
Score: 13.5/20

Monday, December 31, 2018

Amaru (Armadale) 12/2018

We ate here almost two years ago (see )and we were massively impressed. I described the place and discussed the meaning of the name at length at that time. After a term as sous chef at Vue de Monde Chef McIvor made the astonishing move to run the kitchen at a suburban golf club before taking the reins at Amaru. The eight course degustation menu is served on a variety of fairly plain
ceramic crockery. The meal began with some amuse bouche including an old favourite Onion/garlic/sheeps milk yoghurt. 

Another presentation of lightly smoked duck ham with fermented carrot, 

Smoked eel/Kohlrabi/apple, 

Dim sim/black garlic/natural yeast. 
Before the main courses began we were offered a white truffle (from Alba) supplement for an extra $25.
I like the flavour of truffles and use some truffle oil and truffle salt at times but I don't care for the texture so I had no problem resisting the supplement to have them added to one of the dishes.
Port Arlington mussels/charred broccoli/nasturtium.

This was paired witha 2015Marcel Deiss d'Alsace pinot noirBlanc
Mud crab/rock oyster/iced apple with a 
2015 Okonemeirat Rebholz Reisling Trocken from Pfalz, Germany.
We were then offered crunchy crusted home baked sourdough bread with a choice of butter or oil and balsamic vinegar.

Meantime line caught bass Grouper/fermented honey/yeast arrived 

matched with a 2017 Rodda 'Smiths vineyard' chardonnay 
from Beechworth, getting quite close to home.
Another Beechworth wine,a 2016 Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese 

accompanied Kipfler potato//sweetcorn custard/Victorian eel.
for Sandra while we enjoyed lamb sweetbreads/sweetcorn custard/Victorian eel. They looked very similar unless the truffle was added!
A very tiny piece of Seven Creek wagyu/ fermented turnip/ grilled lettuce 

came with a Crawford River 2010 cabernet savignon also from Victoria.
 Red Kangaroo/Hazelnut/apple/raw liquorice was the last dish before the dessert.

Mango/citrus curd/macadamia/elderflower which was served
 with a German 2016 Georg Breuer Reisling Auslese from Rheingau.

Not over yet the meal finished with Otway Shitake/shizo.cacao 
with a Henriques and Henriques 5 year Finest Medium Dry Madeira 

and after a palate cleanser,
 Meredith cheesescake 

with a Japanese Itano Shuzo Bellini from Okayama. This hybrid was not a patch on the original at Harry's Bar.
Although we skipped coffee we were still offered olive oil and pumpkin

caramel pastilles.
All that wine had some effect on me - it did not improve the dinner particularly but I found it difficult to use the strangely weighted fork which kept turning over in my hand, almost of it's own volition.

At half the price per person of very poor tickets for Hamilton this was still expensive in dollars but more than reasonable for what we got. This was another unique meal. Not quite as illusionary, if one can use such a word, as Lume nor as emphatically Australian as Attica and Vue de Monde are but very much in the same pattern. Every dish was excellent, nicely presented and unusual, not a meal to cook at home. Definitely a place for foodies.
Score 17:20