Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vue de Monde (Melbourne) 28/05/2011

Some how Shannon Bennett has managed to spread himself across the world and manages to run, in our virw, the best restaurant in Melbourne by fair margin. Every aspect of the food is outstanding, as is the service and Alex, their Canadian sommelieur, served fine matching wines with each dish we ate. Since it's the best we don't have to name any of their competitors. They are simply better than the rest. Everything may change when they move in a few weeks to the 55th floor at the Rialto. It could be even better! Their currently very crowded kitchen
will be much larger. The view will be magnificent to but the table cloths will be gone!.
For now everything is for sale, their show plates ($250)
that match the painting on the wall in the entry hall
and even the painting itself.
The meal we had was superlative. After three small Amuse bouche we had a series of dishes each better than the last until the coup de gras, if you can say such a thing, an unbelievable smoked chocolate souffle. Only one dish failed to reach the highest standard, a tuna which had been cooked through rather than seared. The waghu dish and the cheek were mouth watering, tender and full of flavour. Just simply a spectacular meal.
Here are the dishes and the menu.


Smoked eel




Spanner crab, broccoli, beetroot

2009 Feudi di San Gregorio ‘Pietracalda’ Fiano di Avellino DOCG Campania, Italy


Mushrooms, walnuts, consommé

2009 Tenuta delle Terre Nere ‘Etna Rosato’ Etna Rosato DOC Sicily, Italy


Marron, beef tongue, brown butter emulsion

1994 Best’s Riesling Great Western Victoria, Aus


Fried duck egg, lamb sweetbreads, pickled onion, truffle

2002 Moët & Chandon ‘Cuvée Dom Pérignon’ Épernay Champagne AOC, Fra


Cucumber sorbet, elderflower granite, frozen lime


Blue fin tuna toro, pork fat, spiced pear. The only dish that failed as the tuna was not just seared but cooked through.

2009 Carrick Pinot Noir Central Otago South Island, New Zealand


Kangaroo, cabbage, raspberry

2007 Cristom Pinot Noir ‘Sommers Reserve’ Willamette Valley, Oregon, United States of America


Blackmore wagyu beef cheek, radish, dill, caper, anchovy sauce

1998 Dalwhinnie Shiraz Eagle Series Victoria, Australia


Assortment of cheeses, bread, condiments

2009 Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise AOC Rhône Valley, France


Frozen lolly, popping candy, house made lemonade


Lemon meringue ice cream, white chocolate, parsley, served with lemonade


Tonka bean soufflé, smoked cocoa ice cream


A selection of coffee, teas, infusions & petits-fours

Score: Peerless 19.25/20

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jaques Reymond (Prahran) 05/2011

Jaques Reymond offers two degustation menus, a vegetarian and a ‘Taste of our Degustation Menu’ for omnivores. Both are designed to ‘feature the finest of Australian produce to reflect the flavours of the season’. Knowing that we could share everything we ordered both menus.

This is what we had.

Menu Vegetarian
Soy milk, corn and watercress soup, potato foam, shiitake kakiage and panko cheese
2008 Champalou Vouvray Sec, Vouvray France

New style gazpacho with pure natural tomato jelly, beignets of Australian bush tomatoes, cucumber and melon, a champagne foam
2008 Pouilly Fumé Tonelum, Loire valley France
Flavours of Autumn: cannelloni of beetroot and red cabbage relish, Mount Buffalo hazelnuts and orange oil, saffron rouille dressing
2009 Toolangi Jacques Reymond Sélection Yarra Valley Vic

Lacquered marrow zucchini in masterstock, exotic mushrooms and fresh pappardelle. Tasmanian wasabi espuma and ponzu juices
2008 Durandal Grand Cru, St Emilion Bordeaux France

Steamed silken tofu like a Waldorf salad, crispy enoki, spiced walnuts and compressed apples, oloroso sherry vinaigrette
2008 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula Vic

Egg white omelette of turmeric carrots and pickled chokos, grated daikon
and chilli, our ketchup sorbet
2006 Dalwhinnie Jacques Reymond Selection Cabernet, Pyrenees, Vic

Iced coffee and chocolate martini, Tahitian vanilla, caramelised nuts Deconstructed cheese cake: galette of fresh Timboon fromage blanc l artisan,
warm fruit pudding, mountain bush pepper berries ice cream
2006 Pressing Matters Riesling R139 Coal River Tasmania

Coffee and petits fours

$135.00 without wine

$230.00 with wine

The general degustaion dishes often looked quite similar in appearance and ended with the same desserts.
Tea smoked chicken and watercress soup, potato foam and tempura wakame oyster, azeite dende
2008 Champalou Vouvray Sec, Vouvray France

Gazpacho of tuna oriental style, dashi and pure natural tomato jelly, native Davidson red plum
2008 Pouilly Fumé Tonelum, Loire valley France

Flavours of autumn: deep sea rockling with anchovy and coffee, Mount Buffalo hazelnuts and orange oil, saffron rouille dressing
2009 Toolangi Jacques Reymond Sélection Yarra Valley Vic
Western Plains young pork shabu shabu in masterstock, fresh pappardelle, Tasmanian wasabi espuma and ponzu juices
2008 Durandal Grand Cru, St Emilion Bordeaux France

Gippsland white farmed rabbit and crispy squid, spiced walnuts and
compressed apples, oloroso sherry vinaigrette.

We had pheasant instead.
2008 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula Vic

Wagyu beef rump and oyster sauce, egg white omelette of pickled chokos, grated daikon and chilli, our ketchup sorbet
2006 Dalwhinnie Jacques Reymond Selection Cabernet, Pyrenees, Vic

$175.00 without wine
$270.00 with wine

There are a lot of good things to say about this restaurant in a fine old Victorian house. The lovely ground floor rooms exude quiet sophistication, a further reminder of Victorian times. The pleasant lighting, the white clothed tables, the solid cutlery and good crockery produce a fine ambiance supported by impeccable service. This is a fine setting for a three star restaurant, it only needed food to match.

First, it must be said, it was a beautiful meal. Every dish was a picture but it was far from being a really excellent meal. Reymond seems to have gone foaming mad. Dish after dish was topped with foam, sometimes referred to as espuma but the greatest deficiency was in seasoning. The ingredients were undoubtedly of top quality, though we would have liked a higher grade waghu. The vegetarian menu relied heavily on mushroom to add flavour to the food There were some not very commonly used ingredients, for example watercress soup and pickled choko. This is all very nice and mostly his combinations went well together sometimes they really seemed to be mismatched. The most extreme example of this was the egg white omelette. This contained a mixture of lightly cooked julienned vegetables the coarseness of which contrasted unpleasantly with the delicate omelette. On the other hand the steamed silken tofu was a super dish. The two things we both agreed as the best of all on the night were the bookends of the meal, Jaques signature gruyere flavoured gougeres,
a French choux pastry cheese puff, which are the best Sandra and I have ever eaten, and the deconstructed cheese cake which was delicious. In conclusion it was a meal that looked great had great textural variation and showed enormous skill in technique but failed to impress in the ultimate taste test because of the blandness of the dishes. We drank wine by the glass. Generally wines were about $18 a glass. A Moet was $28!

Score 15/20

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bo Innovation (Hong Kong) 05/2011

Find your way to Shipp St. in the Wan Chai area of Hong Kong and take the lift, from the street, to the second floor to find this extraordinary restaurant.
Michelin gave them two stars,and Restaurant magazine rated them 64 in the world. I would be tempted to rate them higher. I know very little of the fine dining possibilities in Hong Kong but I have no doubt that, for food, this is one of their finest restaurants. It occupies one modest size second floor room with additional tables on a terrace. Very simply furnished with minimal decoration, the seating is very comfortable with white clothed tables set for about 40 diners
with another eight at a bar facing the kitchen. Oddly two adjacent apartments look straight down into the restaurant
but no one is the slightest bit concerned.
They have two menus one with 13 courses for HK$1280, (about A$160) and another which includes additional courses: caviar, foie gras and abalone for about HK1640. 13 courses sounded fine to me. Wines are about HK$110 upwards by the glass or can be matched for an additional HK$600.
It started with an amuse bouche, variation on a traditional Chinese dish, a slightly sweet pastry containing a smidge of English mustard and Spanish ham in a paper bag.
Strange but pleasant. Then dinner began.

spring onion, lime and ginger snow was presented over a grated bowl pouring out smoke reminiscent of the smell of the sea.

The ginger was frozen to the point where it lost some of the strength of its taste so as not to dominate the dish. After the smoke had cleared.
A masterful start.
a light foam covered a roll of ham containing some mushroom flavoured vermicelli.

Eaten in one mouthful the tomato foam made no taste contribution to this dish but it did look good and the rest was great.
presented like a garden with things that grow in the garden including a warm escagot, cold yellow watermelon,, watermelon jelly, garlic flower, porchini and chive

this was an illustration of contrasts of warm and cold, of delicately spicy with slightly sweet bland fruit. The rest added to the decor but not to the taste for me. Quite appealing to the eye and finely balanced.

bamboo pith surrounded the goose foie gras next to the shredded wood fungus which was finished with a very mildly vinegary pigeon gravy. Better and better.

lo mein, (noodles) chili, sage carabinero. (48 hour air dried shrimp), came with a shrimp oil and powdered shrimp to be added as desired. There were two prawns, one cooked and one raw looking like a slender cone. The cooked part had been wrapped in thin won ton pastry and briefly deep fried, the end being filled with a fine roe. It just couldn't get much better than this.

just that, one cherry tomato marinated in 'Pat Chun' a Chinese vinegar like a light balsamic, a smear of a tomato puree and a small half a tomato. Almost like a palate cleanser light and gently flavoursome.

hats off to Feran Adria. A full flavoured pork broth encapsulated in a fine skin vaguely like agar. Taken in one bite the flavour immediately fills the mouth while the surrounding skin fades away with no need to chew it.

a very odd combination of veal sweetbread, oyster, morel, Chinese leek and pan fried trout in an oyster sauce. The trout was over cooked and too firm. Each of the ingredients was tasty, especially the sweet bread but the morels were lost and the dish did not combine well to make something special.

half an piece of Alaskan crab claw was resting on a little mashed potato. It contained the lightly spiced crab meat covered by a roe souffle. I got a little excited and started eating this before getting a photo of it.

wood fungus, shitake rice cake, it really had a great mushroom flavour and two utterly memorable pieces of pigeon breast and a leg sat over a strip of pigeon gravy and a Chinese vegetable puree (choy sum). This was the dish of the night, though a poor photo. Perfectly cooked, tender and rich in tastes everything matched.
a jellied almond and sesame cube sprinkled with walnut. A sheet was withdrawn from beneath it letting the distinct and pleasant aroma of sandalwood fill the air. It achieved it's aims but was short on flavour.
another variation on a Chinese dish, a pineapple shaped bun here represented by a puff pastry disc, a butter ice cream and a stick of pineapple served with a white chocolate latte. Not the most exciting of dessert dishes.

completed the meal. This collection of Chinese petty fours was almost too much rich chocolate. An air dried dark mandarin chocolate, a chocolate cumquat, a dessert spoon full of little chocolate balls, a collection of Chinese sweets, a carrot cake a pina colada ball with a light dry custard filling and a sesame ball filled with chocolate like a fondant supplied calories for a week. Although dominated by the sweetness once again this dish demonstrated the major characteristics of the food here. Colour, texture, variety and respect for it's Chinese heritage.
Chef Alvin Leung is a character.

He presides in the kitchen, chatting, describing and serving dishes to those seated near him, slipping out to the terrace occasionally to enjoy one of his four daily cigars. He says his taste buds recover after a few hours and he does not smoke on days when he is creating dishes. Formerly an engineer he is self trained as a chef and has only been working as one for six years! He says he has a great memory for tastes and flavours, is meticulous and a perfectionist and has been called the Demon Chef. his food has been called X-treme Chinese cuisine. It combines aspects of molecular cuisine in an extremely successful fusion of French and Chinese cooking. This is beautifully presented with a few theatrical flourishes. He is careful not to overdo the theatrical bit because he recognizes that patrons do not want to go to the same show again and again. To keep his regular patrons he creates a new menu every couple of months so this is a must for my next visit to Hong Kong.
A guest at an adjacent table was also taking photo's and kindly sent these to me. Here is another menu.
Tomato, a better picture than mine.Foie Gras, again.
Suckling Pig.
Perhaps Black Truffle Soy, I did not get this dish.
More Iberico.
This was called Sex on the Beach, unless I'm having my leg pulled! I'm not sure why.
Score 18.5/20