Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Aria (Brisbane) 05/2018


*Click on pic's for enlargement. Aria, according to Google, is a long melody with an accompaniment, usually an orchestra. That's a very appropriate name for Matt Moran's Brisbane restaurant. Although there is no orchestra they serve a long and complicated meal which somehow fits the definition.
The restaurant on Eagle Pier, looks over the Brisbane river across the Story bridge, towards the city. A great scene both day and night.
A comfortable bar is separated from the adjacent restaurant by a wall of wine.

The restaurant occupies an elegant split level room with curved floor to ceiling glass wall. 
Well spaced tables are minimally set with white linen cloths. Extra cutlery comes with later courses.
One rather ordinary abstract painting adorns a wall but there is little wall space for decor.
The seasonal tasting menu offers four courses for $135 (/matching wines $190 or  premium wines $235) and seven courses $185 + wines $270 or premium wine $350. For the wine buffs it should be noted that they have an impressive wine list. A little out of step, as usual, I had saki with my meal.
It began with a lovely chef's amuse bouche-  a fig with cheese and a puffed grain
giving a great taste and textural variation.
Sourdough bread came with a caramelized butter as well as the normal butter. 

Kingfish, sea urchin, parsley, kohlrabi
Well disguised I now find sea urchin very palatable
Gold beetroot, sesame cheese, pear, witlof
A pretty dish but I'm not sure why all the ingredients are there.
Spanner crab, black rice, avocado, wasabi leaf
The delicate crab was rather lost with all the rest plus a little too much salt.
Wagyu bresaola, parmesan, eggplant, fried bread
A super palate cleanser.

I love wagyu  but drying it for a few weeks and serving it up like prosciutto really didn't cut it. 
Smoked pork, turnip, mustard
Simply the best dish of the meal
Roast duck, carrot, orange, wood ear mushroom

Equally as good as the pork.
Plum, gingerbread, yoghurt
Petit fours

 This was a beautifully presented meal, every dish a picture. I began to think of the problem of justifying everything that was being served. Would simpler have been better. The more ingredients one puts on a plate the more likely it is that someone will find something not to their taste. In this meal nothing offended my senses but the taste of many ingredients was diminished  so that some dishes became quite bland. Regardless you'd go a long way to get a better meal.
Score: 17/20

Thursday, April 26, 2018

La Luna (Nth Carlton) 04 2018

* Click on pic's to enlarge them.
It's almost ten years since we last came here but it has been on our mind to come back time and again. That's because we enjoyed it so much. See: https://1001dinners.blogspot.com.au/search?q=La+Luna 
It's different now. The meat room has been moved and the restaurant has been enlarged but it retains the sort of basic Bistro character. Plain bare wood tables, simple settings and not very comfortable chairs. 
Glassware is marked with this sort of cosmic symbol.
You still have to ask for it if you want bread and butter, no change there.
The menu is bigger. Set out as Small Goods, like prosciutto or salami, all about $15, Small dishes like house smoked salmon, crispy pig's ears or spinach and feta filo pastry pie all around $21, Main plates like fish, confit duck leg from $28 to $43 with slow cooked lamb shoulder $89, for two. There's a chef's feast for the table (Chef's choice) $107 pp. Then there are the Beef cuts $$41 to $58 the usual sides $9.5, Sweet treats about $17 and a mezza plate of desserts $32 and cheeses from $11 to $16.5/ 30 gm depending on how many you choose.
We got through a variety of dishes.
Freshly shucked oysters, champagne vinaigrette, $4 each
House smoked salmon, beetroot, horseradish cream.
Bull-Boar sausages, aoli, herbs.

Adrian Richardson, chef, meat and sausage officiando and TV host of Secret Meat Business, the proprietor of La luna has made his recipe for this spicy sausage available on the internet. Unfortunately I found the sausage rather dry and dull.
On to the mains.
Fish, rock flathead 

was delicate, sweet, moist unexpected in a meat specialty restaurant.
Scotch Fillet, spinach, mushroom,& roast garlic butter, (grass fed marble score 4) was cooked perfectly to my taste.
 A super dish.
Rib Eye, confit carrot, bearnaise sauce
was another perfectly cooked excellent dish. Unfortunately the jus was very reduced, heavy and salty.
 Fillet Mignon

came with the same jus and carrot.
The slow cooked lamb shoulder doesn't look as good as it should here. 
It's a substantial serve. 
Crushed potato with garlic and lemon (Kipfler) 

were great, as were the house fries.
Vanilla pannacotta, poached rhubarb, strawberries was pleasant
 but the vanilla bean creme brulee
was outstanding.
This is not a sophisticated venue but more a relaxed style bistro marked by really excellent meat cooked simply and really well. Service is friendly and not obtrusive. Fully licenced you can have BYO with $25 corkage.
We'll be back! 
Score: 15.5/20



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Kisume (Melbourne CBD) 04/2018

Kisume occupies three floors. At ground level a Japanese a la carte restaurant, above that a bar
where casual meals can be served
and on the top floor a fine dining modern degustation restaurant for 12 patrons, which is where we ate.. 
From the start there is a marked element of theatre about this place. 
We were advised to be seated by 7.00pm. There is a horse shoe shaped table from which guests see a curtained doorway through which the chef 
enters at precisely 7.15
This was not actually his first appearance but it looked great
He has a central bench where he plates some dishes, although many are prepared in the kitchen behind him and are ready to serve to the seated guests.
TOMATO CONSOMME, WASABI TOFU

Our first course, a sip or two of perfectly clear delicate palate cleanser.
PUFFED RICE, MENTAIKO EMULSION
A medley of textures, a beaut dish
UNICORN, UNI, CORN, CAVIAR

This pic shows a root of raw wasabi on  a board ready to be grated. The menu title is a little joke. The Unicorn may not exist but the food was real, but not so special.
OYSTER, UMESHU GELEE

The gold leaf on top was a nice touch. Sweet and plump I could have done with a couple more. GREAT BARRIER REEF, SPANNER CRAB, ABALONE, MUSSEL, SCALLOP, CALAMARI

Not much cooking in fact pretty much raw but the taste and texture of each element was distinct and I loved them all. Others didn't.
STORM SHELL CRAB AND BONITI SIPHON BROTH, SMOKED EEL
Made using an old style coffee maker where the heated broth is forced up to the upper compartment from where it infuses through the seafood ingredients. Cute to do it at the table.
SCAMPI, SASHIMI, NORI, SCAMPY ROE
Another almost raw dish.
EGGPLANT AND SWEET POTATO TEMPURA

Not quite as delicate as the previous fare, the batter had also retained a lot of oil.
SUNOMONO, GINGER, ELDERFLOWER

ABURI WAGYU, CHOPPED TORO
QUAIL YAKITORI, SMOKED LEEK,CARROT, KOMBU PUREE

This was, for me, the best prepared quail that i can remember.
BLACKMORE 9+ WAGYU, SHIO KOJI ZUCCHINI, FRESH WASABI



MOREL MUSHROOM RICE

PASSIONFRUIT, LYCHEE, FINGER LIME, PINEAPPLE TUBE 
You suck it up! Deliicious.
SUMMER DAIFUKU

Comments: This was as much an entertainment as an Interesting and unusual meal. The chef was amusing, full of fun and happy to share cooking, and other information during the meal but he would not tell us exactly where he goes to eat out!
The meal was excellent but the dishes were not exquisite. Except the quail, for me, we did not feel that we could rave about them, nor that any, individually would remain forever in our memory. For an experience in Kaiseki we would highly recommend it.
Score:16.5 /20