Sunday, November 09, 2014
Mr Jennings (Richmond) 11/2014
Having enjoyed some of Ryan Flaherty's cooking when he worked with Scott Pickett at the Estelle we were keen to try his own restaurant. They offer either a la carte dining or a 5 course degustation menu. We invariably go for that - it saves so much decision making. They do not do a wine flight but will 'steer you in the right direction' from their small and slightly unusual list of wines.
From the moment we arrived we both felt this was going to be an awful evening. The noise was oppressive. We changed tables to try to escape from the worst of it but it was hopeless.
The venue is quite bare and austere. Tables are plain blonde wood
furnished with a white napkin under a knife and fork. Chairs are hard.
Offered sparkling or still water ($4) we choose tap water. We had to ask twice for ice and had to ask again when the first lot was finished. It took quite a while to get to the table. Bread and butter are available
but you have to ask for them and we also had to ask for salt which was brought but then removed as the course was cleared and had to be requested a second time. The point is that service was not good although Hamish, who greeted us on arrival was excellent.
The meal started with a boudin blanc/Dagwood dog on a home made very tasty tomato sauce.
Made from chicken with paprika salt it was a delicate and gentle start to the meal ($6)
The next course was crab, salmorejo, chili, black pepper.
This was a spicy cold soup, more a puree, a sort of hybrid gaspacho, half Spanish half Italian, It has a little celery in the crab which gave it some crunch, a couple of thin slices of chili and was dressed with a mustard leaf. The salmorejo totally overwhelmed the delicate crab making this a rather dubious combination. ($18)
THis was followed by sashimi of cobia, which we were told had been treated as a ceviche, and accompanied by cucumber and fennel salad, orange dust and a simple Asian dressing.
This was extremely bland. That was when we asked for the salt. The dressing was minimal and so was the taste.
Mulloway, a fish we rarely eat, with a sesame, spring greens and tofu dressing, was a very pleasing dish. The fish was excellent and was well matched to the dressing. ($21)
They next served a 350 day grain fed sirloin, cooked almost as requested.
This was an outstanding piece of meat. there was nothing else on the plate but a couple of mustards. Separately thrice cooked chips,
Heston Blumenthal style, were not very crisp, perhaps they need to look at using a different sort of potato, and a pleasantly lightly dressed lettuce salad.
Very plain, it was the best dish of the night. ($34/ 250 gm or $45 for 350 gm).
The final course was a Jaggery cake, apricot, double cream with wild fennel fronds. ($16)
Some people might love this but neither or Sandra are among them. The cake which was supposed to have been dehydrated to make it crunchy was only very little crunchy in part of the dessert. The apricot and double cream were fine but hardly a display of culinary skill and the fennel fronds did nothing for the dish. Jaggery is a sugar popular in Asia, often made from a combination of palm and cane sugar it is dark and unrefined.
Mr Jennings certainly has some good points but overall we found it disappointing. Possibly the a la carte menu offered better possibilities than the chefs choices. I think the people at the table next to us also felt that the meal could have been much better and the noise was overwhelming.