Monday, June 09, 2008

ezard at the Adelphi - again

Down a wheelchair unfriendly staircase, below street level, one enters a dimly lit room with an air of quiet sophistication. It immediately feels like ‘a good place’. Carpeted, comfortable seating, everything about the place says quality. The maitre d offers drinks and the menus. There are several degustation menu’s, with or without matched wines, or a la carte dishes if you wish.
As usual we go for the degustation but choose wine by the glass.
A small tray bearing spices to flavour bread after dipping it in the heavy extra virgin olive oil proves to be so good we have to ask for more. The sesame seed, sea salt dashi, bonnito (dry fish skin flakes) and nori and the sweet salt combinations are specially appealing.
The first course, an oyster shooter in a lightly wasabi flavoured mirin, is accompanied by a mini nori roll and an amuse bouche, a small tasty dumpling. The whole lot is but a mouthful but it’s full of unusual and interesting taste sensations
This was followed by kingfish covered by about eight other ingredients including sesame custard, lime caramel and pear salad with a few of drops of a sweet and a tart sauce decorating the plate.
Out of curiosity after the explanation of the complex combination before me I asked the waiter how he would eat an offering like this (actually not much more than a mouthful) He was probably surprised by the question and suggested deconstructing the dish to get the separate flavours. and textures After the trouble the kitchen has gone to to plate this up as it was presented I rejected this idea and greatly enjoyed the kingfish plus all the rest. A delicate serve. Steamed prawn dumpling with cauliflower cream, curry oil, celery cress and yarra valley salmon roe would grace any restaurant
- the fine taste of the delicate creamy cauliflower the contrasting cruchy bits of salmon roe and the prawn producing a wonderful dish
This was followed by a dish which would be unidentifiable without the assistance of the waiter, which was the case with most of the offerings. Anchovy crusted swordfish with beetroot, pomelo and Persian fetta salad with salsa verde.
I loved it.
Another textural experience, not for the peanut allergic, was provided by the rice crusted korobuta pork cheek with spiced apples, yellow bean soy, tamarind and peanuts.
A great combination of crisp, crunchy and gelatinous
Next came wild mushroom tortelli with a slice of wagyu salami, crispy lotus root and soft herb salad.
Sichuan peppered duck with coconut rice, stir fried silkmelon and tumeric caramel was as pleasing a way to eat duck as I could ever want
After a tarte palate cleanser
the final dish was a bitter sweet dark chocolate torte with mandarin sorbet.
After all of this we decided to skip the opportunity to try the dessert tasting dish for $15 per person

This is a colourful meal, far to complex to consider for home cooking. Every aspect of the meal is at an extremely professional level. Definitely one of Melbournes’ best restaurants with French international background to delicately south east Asian additions making unique tastes and textures .
Wines are expensive
Price Degustation $135 with wine $235 A la carte starters about $26, mains about $45
Score 17/20

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"A small tray bearing spices to flavour bread after dipping it in the heavy extra virgin olive oil proves to be so good we have to ask for more"

I very much enjoyed your review of this fine establishment.
The oil you mention is a delicious parmesan, garlic and rosemary infused creation that is available to purchase from the restaurant. As you mentioned, it is great with some yummy bread, and is also wonderful used as a dressing, drizzled over pasta etc. Last time I dined at Ezard I walked away with a bottle for myself and a couple to give as presents as well!

Elliot said...

So very true. I too bought a bottle of this house creation $30) On loking back at the review I was about to revise it to add the details of the herb infusion when I saw the above anonymous comment

Anonymous said...

My wife and I went to Ezards a few nights after your review (though not because of the review specifically!). We went for a special occasion, and had a $200 voucher for the restaurant to spend. We chose degustation, and my wife went for the vegetarian version thereof.

I have to say, I disagree with the significant elements of your review.

I liked the ambience and service, and also enjoyed the bread, olive oil and accompanying spices. I also enjoyed the presentation of the dishes.

My over-riding feelings from the meal were 2 things: the tastes were totally overwhelming, and the prices unjustifiable.

It was clear that the chefs have a very strong knowledge of the power of flavours, and the smallest amount of certain ingredients (eg lime syrup)would literally explode with flavour. But to me, over 7 savoury courses, there was no relief from sweet and salty strong flavours. So much so that I think a highlight was the tarte palate cleanser.

On the flipside, I thought that the inventiveness of the vegetarian degustation was incredible and really quite unique. Few places are able to do that much without meat/fish.

On prices, as I said, I had a voucher. But for 2 degustations, a half bottle of ordinary french wine ($48 for roger sabon chateauneuf-du-pape) and some water, I thought $350 was unbelieveably steep.

Elliot said...

Anon
I am sorry your experience wasn't up to your expectations
The first time I went to Ezards I thought his dishes too fussy and the tastes too strong with an excess of coriander (you would have hated it then!) but I didn't feel that to be fhe case last time BUT we did ask them to have a minimum or zero chilli in our dishes.
I feel that any more than a touch of chilli destroys my palate for the night and makes wine a total waste of money
As for prices I am a little schizophrenic. I deeply resent huge mark ups on wine but I have some sympathy for anyone trying to run a really good restaurant.
They have considerable wastage, they need good staff, and a lot of them both in the kitchen and on the floor, the eating public can be quite fickle and overheqads are ever increasing.
Ultimately, people go where they can afford to. Invention doesn't come cheap. If I was limited to inexpensive eateries I would rather miss six ordinary dinners for one special one and although i'd be very put out if it was a flop I'd still try again. Bit like a blind date!
I'm very pleased for your comment, perhaps we might get a few more opinions

Kelvin said...

The dishes that you experienced and reviewed were slightly different from the ones I tasted late last year.

I kind of agree with a previous poster, strictly speaking about my last meal there, that some of the flavours are overwhelming. For my last visit, the problem was ginger. It was apparent in a few major dishes. 2nd problem was soya sauce was used in numerous dishes in the dego. Having said that the latter problem seems to have disappeared going by what you had.

The biggest problem for me was that, the 'cooking' itself wasn't very perfect, especially for the meat dishes. It had heavy reliance on sauce as well as herbs, which is usually no problem as long as the food is cooked right.

Attica meanwhile gets the cooking done perfectly for each dish, as a comparison. I will give it another try 1 day. Price is kind of expensive for the quality though in Ezard, though not as steep as VDM and even Bistro Guillaume (crappy food for 6 star hotel prices). *_*

Elliot said...

Hi Kelvin
I prefer Attica to ezard both for the food and dollar for dollar it is much better value. Ezard is rather more complex and as a result perhaps failure prone on an individual dish on occassion. It hasn't got all that high a returnablity factor in my book either - there are a lot of places I'd rather go to but I did get a very good meal and would not hesitate to put ezard high on the list of Melbournes best restaurants.
You might like to see the review of pre theatre dinner at ezard by Melbourne Foodie. there's a link to it on my blog