Sunday, September 11, 2011

Albert Park Hotel 09/2011

Some years ago this popular gastro-pub was making a name for itself serving barely cooked pigeon. Not any more. I has transformed into a specialty sea food bistro attached to the hotel.
Last week they advertised a crab degustation five course meal ($55) which was sounded to good to resist. It was sparsely attended. The split level room is furnished with a long central table

and a scattering of smaller tables was pleasant
but despite it's lobster pot light shades and a long aquarium above the kitchen the decor barely carried any essence of a sea food restaurant.
It still remained a pub serving sea food.
Called Spring Graze, after a

chile spiced guacamole, the menu featured
sweet corn and spanner crab laksa. Here the spanner crab was just detectable but was much to delicate for the, again, chili spiced laksa.
The next course was crab croquetta with Romanesco sauce. There was minimal sauce and this was quite a dull dish.

Soft shell crab taco, spicy tomatillo salsa looked attractive but it did not do the crab justice.
My favourite was the blue swimmer crab gratin with morels and asparagus. This was a very nice combination where the crab was not overwhelmed by other tastes. The morels were a little lost both for texture and taste. They are another fine ingredient best eaten with simple dishes.
Mud crab noodle roll with black beans and young ginger was treated with a fairly heavy hand.
Sadly I felt the meal lacked the delicacy needed to get the best out of the crabs. I doubt that without seeing the menu, anyone could have guessed that we had four different crabs, let alone what they were.
Because of her allergy to chili Sandra had two dishes off the menu

a chicken and prawn salad with pomello, which was super
and a whole flounder with tatare sauce ($35). This simple dish was excellent, very fresh, just cooked and mouth wateringly succulent we would be happy to go for their ordinary menu any time.
Desserts, ($14) were sugar hits.

A souffle for two was more like a meringue and not to our taste.
Another guest, who actually invited us to join them at this dinner, emailed us the next day as follows

I was thinking earlier today about last night - as I said this morning the 'pastry' or hor fun in the last dish was way too thick to my taste,
but the 5 courses did not have the light and shade one expects from a degustation dinner, and the lack of balance/contrast/hot/salty/sour/sweet/etc was not there.
I was also disappointed that the croquette and hor fun roll were a similar shape, frankly it was an abysmal attempt at a degustation, really disappointed - but the company was great:-)!
We are both on the same page on this one!
Score 12.25/20 for the degustation, 13/20 for the menu stuff, brought down by the desserts.

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