Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nuevo 37 (Melbourne Sth Wharf) 09

Melbourne has a very sophisticated restaurant clientele. It requires more than the backing of a celebrity chef for a restaurant to remain popular and there are too many venues of every kind to make a place successful unless it has other qualities. Novelty alone will not do. Position is important. Atmosphere very significant. Specially important are the food and to some extent the perceived value.
Isolated from the main restaurant areas in the Hilton at South Wharf Nuevo 37 has either to cater for passing trade who visit the nearby Convention Centre or to become a destination restaurant for the locals. The very high ceiling room with a cathedral feeling is impressive, not that I'm expecting a religious experience. Wood lined there are large windows looking to the west with a pleasing light as the sun sets.
Spanish Michelin starred chef Ramon Freixa has designed the menu with the help of Phillipe Perrey and intends, I'm told, to fly over from Spain four times a year.
Regardless of the imprint on the food
it will certainly impact on his carbon footprint.
Entering the foyer of the hotel one is faced with very large wall decoration made from pot scourers in several colours.
More novelty is promised at the restaurant.
The staff, under the direction of assistant maitre d/sommellieur Josh Fraser, have the difficult task of presenting and explaining quite complicated dishes to guests who are frequently intent on their conversations. The food does not stand alone. It needs to be described if one is to have a clue about what is on the plate.
After a bowl of mixed olives and a Spanish version of a bruschetta,

a slightly crisp slice of grilled bread with bits of ham Doubtless they would call it 'jambon' on top we had a pleasant consomme, tomato I think,
with some codfish which could just as well have been prawn, lobster or calamari. Pleasant enough but not very special.
The first dish was called ''white with a black point'', ($27.5)

a central piece of very salty rather coarse cod was surrounded by a totally tasteless benign textured pillar of homogenized set cauliflower, a smear of garlic paste, a liquid almond gel and a second near tasteless gel and caramelized black garlic which we were advised to eat last for it's special flavour. Hardly a mesmerizing experience. we did come for dinner not some unconnected stroll through a variety of textures and unimpressive tastes. I found no logic to the dish Perhaps a more explicit interpretation of these flavours and there relationship to Freixa's Catalonian background might have helped, or perhaps not.
The next course was another weird one - both fish and fowl.
A breast and leg of spatchcock in escabeche, a Moreton Bay bug and a little vegetable mix with a skin of green rice for edible decoration.
We finished with a rather pleasing chocolate cake called

Chocolate 2009.2. ($20)
I found this a profoundly disappointing meal. It was quite expensive coming to $145/ head which included four glasses of wine - a Spanish bubbly, Segura Viudas, a Manzanilla, a Conde de Valdemar Temparanilla red (2004) and a Hidalgo "Triano" Pedro Ximenez super sweet sherry.

I was a little surprised to see that their web site www.nuevo37.com.au fails to mention Phillipe Perrey who, I gather is actually in charge of the day to day cooking.
Score:12.5 /20

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