Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nobu at Crown

The dust has settled and now you can quite often get a table on the night.
Most of us have heard enough opinions to have expectations about a meal at Nobu. The first is that it's going to be expensive. Beyond that most, but certainly not all, report very positively on the food. The venue and the service rarely get a mention and all for good reason. There is an upstairs bar with an L shaped area with tables and a large downstairs dining room. reputed to have cost $10mil to set up. I can only presume that the 7 kitchen areas spread around the periphery were awfully expensive. The low ceiling and wood floor and bare wood topped tables make this a potential noise trap. One table of inconsiderate raucous diners is enough to remove any skerrick of sophistication. Little better than an office cafeteria. The food is another story. We had a first class meal bypassing the degustation menu ($110) for a similar cost option of a range from the a la carte menu. Every dish was superb.We started with their signature dish of black cod in miso. What it lacked in size ($38 too) it made up for in taste - extremely delicate, very very fresh, moist and mouth wateringly tasty. This was followed by a tempura king crab claw ($29) with a rather strong dipping sauce. As good as tempura gets though not as fine a batter as you get at Tempura Hajime. We were part way through the remarkably good beef tenderloin ($43) when the next dish arrived a beautifully presented butterflied whole baby barramundi ($46) which tasted as good as it looked. I could not fault it. At this point our soft shell crab arrived due to a logistic problem of coordination between the different kitchens and a moment later the whole boned poussin ($25) turned up so we had four dishes at once, the table was overflowing with dipping sauce, rice, wine and water and plates of food. I told the waitress that we had come to dine not gobble a quick meal, that the food would be cold and could she bring the p0ussin back later. Initially reluctant I insisted that if the kitchen had messed up the order and timing they could fix it so back it went. George Orwells "Down and Out in Paris and London" makes me wonder about sending dishes back but for whatever the reason it was absoutely excellent when we eventually got it back. The manageress visited us later, explained the occasional timing problem and removed the charge for the crab which was the only 'ordinary' thing we had. Our last course was a California roll, 6 large slices' packed with tender raw fish, and avocado in a moist rice with dipping sauce ($18)
Dessert called "Spring rolls" was chocolate wrapped in a crisp deep fried thin pancake, some rather sour passion fruit sauce and a serve of coconut ice cream ($16)was pleasant enough, a cute idea, but nothing special
Wine: After a 'Lychinee' a lychee cocktail in a martini glass I drank the original Nobu sake - Daiginjo. Served cold 180 ml for $16 was very reasonable. A glass of Plunkett traminer reisling was presented a cm below the line marking the regular size serve and was apologetically removed and returned in full measure.

Price: This ended up at $298 before the gratuity which is expensive but we had an exquisite meal and I will be happy to go again

Comments: The quality of the patrons didn't come within cooee of the food. The standard dress was shoddy casual for the men, much better for the girls. The self absorbtion at the larger groups was such that shouted conversation, readily understandable 4 tables away and roars of laughter made it more like eating at a football match than one of Melbournes best restaurants. It could so easily have been so very much better!
Score: 16.5/20


Ed Charles said...

I guess Crown will atract those sorts - footballers perhaps? God to hear you enjoyed the fod and they did the right thing by you on the service. I too thought the food was excellent, the only fault we could find was that there was too month.

Anonymous said...

Hell Ed I thought you said you've stopped drinking
Even I spell better than that!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, how would you describe the barramundi, what sauce was it cooked in? it definately had ginger... I'm trying to review it myself, but can't remember, only the whole baby barramundi part of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Schalakid
Ouch. That was nine months ago and although I have a memory of the dish it doesn't go so far as to what the spices were - HOWEVER Nobu has put out a book of his recipes. You could have a browse around a bookstore and probably get the details you want. Good luck.