Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Attica (Ripponlea) 11/2013

* Click on the pic's if you want to enlarge them.
Sometimes it seems that some of us are completely out of step with the rest of the army of Melbourne restaurant patrons. There is a lot of subtle pressure to get right back into step quickly, before too many people notice but we're prepared to resist the temptation to conform. 
Despite my irritation at having been compelled to pay a 10% gratuity last time I was at Attica a few weeks ago we decided to try it once more. Many dishes were the same and some of them have been on the menu for years. There were a number of small dishes before the eight course tasting menu ($180 per person) began. Two of these were old timers, the walnut purée which is delightful, served in the walnut shells and decorated with tiny flowers,
and the crumbed fried mussels served on a plate decorated with a hand painted muscle shell, which looks much better on the plate than this pic suggests. Apart from the shell this is very ordinary.

A bunch of edible leaves was greatly enhanced by a corn purée which was so good it did not really need the leaves.

Another taste delight was produced with, what I presumed was a pickled, Jerusalem artichoke.

Snow crab and Sorrell was the first course of the main meal. The crab meat was delicate and sweet under the sorrel leaves. A simple but very nice dish.

Meat from the Pearl Oyster is another product which was on the menu last year. It is a chewy textured meat, actually slices of the muscle with which the oyster closes its shell. It is reminiscent of abalone and most notable because it is so unusual.

Marron and ground greens was a very simple dish. Lightly cooked fresh marrons are always a delicacy and need only the lightest of saurces, even butter alone, to make them memorable. Of course, if you can get the product, this hardly displays the finest of chefs skills.

A simple dish of potato cooked in the earth it was grown has been a signature dish of Attica for many years now. It is a great dish the first time you have it and a very good dish for quite a while after that but eventually I feel it should be replaced.

Cucumber, Holy flax, sauce of Burnet is a dish that I have not had before. It is nicely presented flavoursome and shows nice variety it tastes colour and texture. For all that it still seemed to lack some finesse.
Wallaby with herbs tended by the hands of our cooks seems a little odd since presumably everything on the menu has been tended by the hands of their cooks. This was served with a quandong fruit and a bunch of green leaves and small flowers which, to me, tasted a little like eating grass. As Sandra is reluctant to eat Skippy she was given a lamb dish. With my eyes closed I could not really tell the difference between these two meats although ordinarily I find lamb to have a most distinctive taste.
Blueberries, vinegar and a fresh cheese was a colourful presentation with a mass of white chrysanthemum leaves. This was quite an interesting and origional desert and I liked it but if it was on a regular desert menu I doubt that I would order it.
The final offering, raw strawberry jam was very sweet and acidic, I could not finish it.
At one point during the meal we were invited to visit the herb garden at the back of the restaurant. There chef Ben's Shewry was serving licorice ice cream which he dipped in chocolate and crushed rasberries. This was accompanied by a glass of cider which had been spiced and seasoned. It was a nice opportunity to talk about the restaurant which is now so very popular that it is largely booked out for the next three months. This is a remarkable turnaround as they struggled to survive in their early years.
I do not know why it is that I and the people with me felt so dissatisfied with this evening. There was nothing wrong with it and plenty right with it but it failed to ring those bells that chime when one experiences a truly excellent meal. It lacked excitement.
Although the staff did their very best to please the service was quite slow. After I requested the bill I had to wait so long that eventually I took my credit card down to the cash register myself.

 Score:15 /20


John Salisbury said...

Very interesting review Elliot.
You always tell it as you see it.
A distinguishing aspect of your reviews.
Wendy and I have not eaten at Attica so we really appreciate your assessments.
Best regards John

Elliot and Sandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elliot and Sandra said...

I was really disappointed. I would have had a marvelous experience but it did not quite get there

Elliot and Sandra said...

Iintended to say I would have loved to have had a marvelous experience but it did not quite get there.