Monday, September 30, 2013
Pei Modern (Melbourne CBD) 09/2013
This relatively newcomer to the restaurant scene has a fine reputation after being selected by The Age Good Food Guide as the best new restaurant last year.
It's a big place with a large area for outside dining in the forecourt of the Sofitel on Collins St.
They have a large basically decorated bar. The inside dining area is austere with white unclothed tables, and good quality very comfortable white plastic chairs.
Lighting, which is dim, is supplied by attractive simple overhead lamps.
The place is very open and very noisy.
The menu is quite small but includes meat, fish and poultry. The dessert menu was particularly unusual and interesting. Pries are on the high side of average. They have a very modest range of beers wines by the glass or carafe. House made sordough bread was very moorish. Our waitress told us that their business manager said they should stop making it but we were glad they ignored the advice!
I love sweetbreads but rarely see them on the menu so I was happy to have the lamb sweetbreads for entree. It was a very good dish served with well cooked carrot and and what I took to be a white radish in a tasty vadouvan sauce the crumbed sweetbreads were excellent.
Sandra's chicken livers served with smoked pui lentils , onion and rocket were also in a pleasing sauce and were cooked excellently, just beyond rare. The lentils were exceptional.
For mains I chose the Hanger steak which was served with beetroot two ways, boiled as usual and strips of pickled beetroot, onion and caramelized youghurt. Cooked rare the steak was surprisingly tender, in a little light sauce and the beet a very good accompaniment.
Sandra chose John Dory was delicate with mushroom anda light dashi consomme. With a bit more broth it might have been a fish soup, and a very tasty one at that.
Two side dishes were also extremely good. Unpeeled chips were crisp and nicely seasoned. They were further improved with some aoli we requested as a dipping sauce.
A serve of brussel sprouts was also excellent. the outer leaves had been stripped off and fried until crisp giving the dish additional taste and crunchy texture.
Desserts were unusual and unusually good.
A sauterne custard, unique in my experience, was very light with that special flavour of sauterne, covered with a sweet sauce and accompanied by crostolii. It reminded us of the sauterne apple jelly that Tetsuya produced many years ago.
A candied brioche with Valrhona chocolate and cognac cream was also quite excellent. The brioche, sweet and moist, the chocolate dark and bitter and the cream fluffy and lightly flavoured all combined to make an apparently simple but fine display of technical skill that tasted great.
The whole meal was distinguished by a simplicity the obscured the excellent quality of the design of the dishes and the excellence of their preparation. Flavours and textures were varied and well matched. They were deceptively good, indeed very good.
The cafeteria style furnishing, the rather slow service and the noise were negatives but it was a very fine meal.