Saturday, April 05, 2014
Pope Joan (Brunswick East) 04/2014
We paid for our meal and have no relationship with Pope Joan or Colin Fassnidge and are unaware of any conflict of interest.
Starting as a breakfast and lunch cafe a few years ago Pope Joan expanded into the next house, opened up a court yard garden, and began to operate as a restaurant. It remains extremely popular.
On this occasion Books for Cooks organized a promotion of spunky chef Colin Fassnidge's latest book with a four course dinner and matched wines.
Fassnidges reputation has been growing rapidly with his appearances as a guest judge on the TV cooking show My Kitchen Rules. It is likely to be further enhanced if he takes over from Peter Evans who is leaving the show at the end of this series.
We arrived too early and had a pre dinner drink at the bar and a serve of crinkly cut chips with ketchup. These proved to be excessively salty and we were pleased when the barman had them replaced.
Eventually we got to our table and the first course arrived. Crispy ham and cheese balls, mustard and creme fraiche. Excellent when hot and crisp the mustard added an extra dimension to the taste. We were pleased to be offered a second round though they were not quite as good as the first lot. The accompanying Los Hernandos 'Saludo al'Txakoli, 2012 was an extremely pleasant wine and a good match.
This was followed by three starters; smoked eel and Beetroots a good combination of tastes and textures,
Tuna 'Bresaola', buttermilk curd & celery, which I enjoyed,
and a fresh fennel, pea, fetta and yoghurt salad which looked nice but was rather tasteless.
Crittendon Estate Fume Blanc, 2013 would be welcome with any salad.
Bread was very sweet, served with creamed butter.
The main course, described as confit lamb breast, miso eggplant puree & red pepper jam was very disappointing. Far from being a nice piece of lamb the meat was shredded, wrapped in crumbs and dry. The eggplant was not a puree but a tiny wedge. This was a meal that Fassnidge would have been very critical of it had been served to him by an amateur MKR contestant. The side serve of 2 hour cooked buttered baby leeks and lettuce & lovage certainly did not stand out as a chef's dish.
Los Hermanos 'Homenaje'Garnacha/Mataro/Tempranillo 2012 was a soft and gentle wine low in acid and tanin. Although it was pleasant enough the lamb could have done with a heavier Shiraz style wine.
Dessert, lemon verbena parfait, apple and ginger, honeycomb was lovely, perhaps the best thing at the dinner. A sauterne would have been great but Crittendon Estate'Pinocchio' Moscato, 2013 was a benign acceptable sweet wine.