Saturday, December 20, 2008

Matteos (Fitzroy North)

Matteo's has long been an outstanding restaurant. Years ago it served excellent Italian influenced modern European dishes. That's all changed now except for the quality which remains excellent. At 533 Brunswick St. the restaurant is little changed with well spaced very good sized tables in three rooms. White cloths, well weighted cutlery and copy cat Villeroy and Bosch crockery set a quiet sophisticated tone. As always the staff are courteous and efficient. What's really different is the food. Chef Brendan McQueen has introduces a strong element of Asian fusion, particularly Japanese and done it very well. I started with a 'Pithivier' puff pastry pie filled with minced turkey, pork belly, 'lup cheong' sausage crushed peas and red currant sauce.
The name comes from the French town of Pithiviers where this domed pie was traditionally served as a Twelth Night pastry (filled with broad beans) for X'mas. For those in search of further knowledge the lup cheong is also known as a Chinese sweet sausage. It is air dried, not cooked, usually made up of pork, pork fat, salt. honey or sugar, soy sauce and Five spice ( It was a fantastic start to the meal ($20). There was a slight mix up with the Tempura zucchini flowers with chevre, watermelon, radish and coriander salad. ($18)

however the absence of the watermelon hardly seemed to matter. Others at the table thoroughly enjoyed a Japanese seafood plate with Hiramasa kingfish, Ocean trout tataki and teriyaki glazed smoked trout with suitable Japanese sauces ($24)For mains the roasted, five spiced, Chinese style duck breast, spring roll with creamed leeks and soya beans, fresh cucumber, coriander and peanut pesto, hoisin duck sauce sounded very elaborate but the flavours melded well in this substantial sized dish ($40).

The milk fed veal loin rolled in porchini dust, taro and root vegetable rosti, spinach and feta and leek cannaloni with crumbed herb butter was frankly delicious. ($39). Sides ($8) were a little unusual too. Asparagus spears in oyster sauce, large wedges of Desiree poatoes with lemon thyme and garlic and Iceberg salad with tomato, bocconcini, toasted pita bread, dried black olives lemon and oregano dressing deserved recommending.
They also have a tasting menu ($99) or $159 with wine. Desserts and cheese, all $18, all looked good but we had only the warm dark chocolate fondant pudding, coconut milk gelato - rich and lovely.

Order it early as there is a 12 minute wait. I strongly recommend Matteo's for a special night out.

Wine: They have a good list including some quite inexpensive We enjoyed a Chandon NV bubbly ($50) and a $35 New Zealand white.

Score: 16,5/20

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