Sunday, January 14, 2018

Vue de Monde Another Vue (Melbourne CBD) New Year Eve 2017

New year eve (NYE) is an occasion for celebration, like a birthday. It's also a time for resolution and reflection. Mostly I've been pretty disappointed in the fancy restaurants we've visited for fine meals for NYE. Per se in Manhattan overwhelmed us with foie gras and caviar, Pierre Gagnierre destroyed our palates with 25 year old Pied de Cheval oysters, we've also celebrated with indifferent meals in Amsterdam and in Israel over the last few years. Now, for a change, we're eating at home, well in our home city anyway.
Here are the dishes. 
Summer vegetables, cooked in paperbark , with an avocado dressing.

Moonlight flat rusty wire oyster, wrapped in asparagus in an asparagus sauce with salted riberries berries.

  Kingfish with green tomatoes Port Philip Bay clams and lemon aspen.
 Mudcrab wrapped in kohlrabi in a squid ink sauce, decorated with daisy petals.
 Flat bread and damper, (but not damper) served over coals, with a vegemite flavour.
Followed by marron in a corn sauce,\ and kelp.
accompanied by the stuffed marron head.
Davidson plum sorbet, served on a bed of edible flowers frozen with liquid nitrogen at the table and crushed with a pestle - the traditional VdM palate cleanser. 
David Blackmore grade 9 ribeye, muntari berries and beetroot
Aged duck glazed in leatherwood honey with sides.

A selection of cheeses. Not on the menu but generously offered to us as we found some of the food unpalatable
Marshmallow roasted over red gum.
Chocolate souffle with Christmas fig leaf ice cream.
The usual perfect souffle.
Yarra Valley cherries, cultured cream, lovage.
Summer melon and four pillars gin.
We drank a very good Eva Fricke 2012 Schlossberg Spatlese through the meal.

While many aspects of a meal we ate resemble what might have been served five or ten years ago in fact it is a superficial resemblance. Of course the venue is fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. 

Kangaroo skin covered tables, too wide for easy conversation are the same, the Cristofl cutlery is there as are the vine root fork and spoon stands and the stone salt and pepper dishes. The glassware is excellent. 
The European crystal Plumm glassware added to the pleasure of the wine.

The emphasis, however beyond being fresh, local, organic, and so on has moved away from those distinctive characteristics that distinguish French cuisine toward an increasing Australian emphasis. 
Examples of this are clear in the damper and flat bread with Vegemite flavour and the sausage sizzle, a DIY seafood hot dog with separate brioche roll and accouterments, which are becoming signature dishes. Unfortunately in this move towards political correctness in the Australian context, the use of quondong and Australian plums and berries adds a sour note to sauces which, for us spoiled the pleasure of an excellent piece of Waghu beef the flavour of which was lost. Similarly the perfectly cooked slice of duck breast also had a vinegary taste that detracted from the dish. Other dishes also suffered from the sauces they were served with. The marron was served on a corn based sauce, far too heavy for the delicate marron.
There were a very large number of kitchen staff working extremely hard to plate up dishes 

which were mostly striking in appearance, pieces of art really, for example the crab in kohlrabi covered with a neat row of daisy flowers but again the combination of crab with kohlrabi simply did not go well together. 
Not only did the guests make a fair bit of noise but there was a great deal of shouting from the kitchen - not quite in the same class as Ramsay but getting there.
There was a large contingent of floor staff who all tried very hard to provide the sort of impeccable service one only gets at top of the line restaurants.They did as well as it is possible to do. Although we have been to VdM four or five times times this year I recognized almost nobody. Somehow they have lost the personal touch which was a feature of the place in the past. They were extremely attentive to our requests and replaced a couple of dishes. In fact we were offered an additional dish of cheeses, not on the menu, to make up for our dissatisfaction with the dinner. Incidentally of the six cheeses all, bar one, were from Australia. What was missing was a sort of intimacy between the kitchen, the floor staff and the patrons, an intangible je ne sais quoi.
VdM has moved with the times but for me,
Score: 16/20

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Lume (South Melbourne) 12/2017

The Road – 

Saturday, 2 December 2017
Since we have been here before we were well aware that one comes to Lume not so much for a meal but for an experience. Of course it is an experience mediated by food - a series of dishes designed to titivate the senses, especially visual and taste and textures. I'm more than happy to try that.
Show plates carry the circumflex and the acute over the restaurant name BUT the name is missing!
We had the 14 course degustation menu. 

Crab taco's
The taco looked like it had a baby corn in it was actually crab, picked, coloured and moulded to look exactly like corn - cute, although not a taste sensation 
Cuttlefish and cucumber tart smoked potato and salmon eggs 

This little tart is the work of a master chef. Not only does it display imagination and technique but it also a curious and appealing combination of ingredients. The salmon eggs added a lot to the dish.
They slipped this little duck egg tart in without mentioning it on the menu and now, two weeks later, I recall I enjoyed it but not much else.
Marron and salted elderberries, apple and mountain marigold apple, cardamon and mountain pepper.

Pearl on the ocean floor 

An exotic combination of seafoods.
This little smoked tart also slipped out of my memory.
Periwinkle and kohlrabi asparagus smoked over lemon myrtle with flathead and over-ripe lime.

A lot of dishes here have been smoked over various woods. The flavours from these varieties did not resonate with me at all.
Another little deception.Barbecued abalone with emu ham and kombu.

Perhaps a little too fussy a dish.
Finger lime verjus Spanish mackerel with fermented pine mushroom and sea urchin.

Artichoke bread with eel butter and corn honey 

Aged duck smoked over melaleuca
Simply delicious, deliciously simple - you may have guessed I love duck and this was very much to my taste. 
Cauliflower cheese with apple and Olida gum Willie Smith ‘Somerset Redstreak’

More trickery - these Camember rounds were cauliflower puree.
Fermented passion fruit, rhubarb and Geraldton wax olive oil and mandarin peel ice-cream, fennel and absinthe 

a simple piece of vanilla 

Of course it wasn't. It's rhubarb!
And these musk sticks (reminds me of school days) were not musk sticks either.
and the last dessert.

“the other side of what?” 
That's a problem.
Ambiance 15/20
Presentation 19/20
Variety and ingenuity 19/20
Taste 14/20
Service 17/20
Total: 16.75/20
But don't take my word for it - go and try it out for yourself!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Leoardoz (Wivenhoe - NW Tasmania) 11/2017

This is an unusually elegant looking cafe/wine bar in a 'village' that might reasonably be called a suburb of  Burnie being only a few kilometres from that town. It's on a side road separated by a little grass from the Bass Highway and The Bass Strait.

The clean modern lines of the exterior are mimicked in the L shaped restaurant.
There is a small open lounge area.

The remainder of the restaurant has good sized bare tables with paper serviettes and basic settings.
It was oddly discordant to have a 'Caution Wet Floor' sign in the middle of the restaurant, especially as the floor was not wet at all!
I started with a selection of deep fried dumplings which came with a sweet chili sauce and a sweet sour sauce and a small salad.

While the Soy sauce was very good with enough but not too much chilli the sweet sour sauce was only sweet. The salad had a pleasant sweet dressing. The spring roll and dumplings belonged in a fast food take away cafe.
Scotch fillet, 300 gm, 
was accompanied by an excellent mushroom sauce, I could have chosen a pepper, pan or smoky 
BBQ sauce. The potato chips were outstanding, hand cut they were hot and crisp. The steak was thiner than I would have liked but the chef managed to cook it very rare and much to my taste.
There is a cabinet with a good selection of cakes and biscuits.
A glass of Ghost Rock Pinot Noir added to the pleasure of the meal. The menu, and the wine list are small but quite adequate and from what I experienced, and saw they serve good size generally good looking food.
An oddity is a cabinet with small handbags and women's accessories. Evidently people do buy them.
I would be happy to come here again to try some of their other dishes. 
Score: 13.75/20