Saturday, May 17, 2014

Anada (Fitzroy) 05/2014

As patrons of this restaurant we paid for our meal and have no relationship with the proprietors and are unaware of any conflict of interest.

This tiny restaurant 
offered us either 6.00 pm or 8.15 pm seating for dinner on Friday night to make sure they could get two full services for the night which did not suit but we wanted to go so we turned up punctually for the first sitting. Service was pleasant and we had no trouble finishing our meal on time. Great chunks of very crusty moorish sourdough bread with olive oil were irresistible.

The menu is split between Tapas and larger serves, Raciones. There is a reasonable list of Spanish and Australian wines by the glass or bottle but no French wines, including champagne, at all and no BYO accepted. We did enjoy their last bottle of 2011 Don Ramon Granache Tempranillo  ($44) which was a light smooth inoffensive red. A large blackboard announces their sherries.

Tables are bare and very close to each other but the noise level was low.

We started with tapas. Sobrasada bomba were  meat balls wrapped in something like mashed potato and deep fried. There was a smear of yoghurt and a spicy sauce on the plate. A coarse but pleasant dish. ($14)

 Charred eggplant with yoghurt & pomegranate was also pretty unrefined. The difference between charred and burned is a bit academic. These tended towards the latter. ($14)

I am a fan of cauliflower and this dish, fried cauliflower with hummus and flat bread, did not disappoint. ($14.50)

Prawn & calamari fideos, Spanish for spaghetti, was the dish of the night. The calamari as tender as you could want, the prawns so crisp they could be eaten from head to tail without the prawn meat being too dry and the thin pasta a fine accompaniment. ($18)

Chermoula chicken with bulgar & sumac is quite a spicy dish. It was OK but did not greatly appeal. ($18)

If the chicken was a little spicy the slow cooked pork shoulder with almond picada was totally bland. The shoulder had been well cooked and was very tender but I would never have it there again.

The dessert tasting plate, ($25 for two) was very nice although I could taste nothing in the Pedro Ximenez & muscatel ice cream of the Pedro Ximenez in the ice cream. The churros with bitter sweet chocolate were very good and the rest of the plate, pomegranate and orange blossom sorbet with sugared pistachios, crema Catalana, poached quince, honey labneh, hazlenuts was interesting without being of particular distinction. 

A single serve of crema Catalan ($12) had very creamy custard.
The success of this place is because of a combination of being at the right place at the right time and creating a pleasant bistro style atmosphere.
Score: 13.5/20

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vue de Monde (Melbourne CBD) 05/2014

* Click on pic's to enlarge them
For what it's worth readers should be aware that Vue de Monde made no contribution to the cost of this meal, or the drinks.
There is no question that Vue is one of the big occasion restaurants in Melbourne, and just as you can not step into the same river twice, we have never really had the same meal there twice although some courses are repeated.
An interesting feature of the restaurant is an ancient Miele butter churn 

 which is used today.

On this occasion the meal began with several deceptively simple amuse bouche.
A small bowel of chips and a dip cam first.

Salt cured wallaby. Extremely delicate.

 Rolled up at the table
 Jellied apple

 Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar. An old favourite.

Duck tongue, mountain pepper

BBQ lamb hearts

 Spanish Mackerel, potato, chicken, caviar

Flinders Island lamb, oyster, wild herbs

A herbal infusion
 Duck, corn, octopus

Cucumber, wood sorrel,

Frozen at the table with liquid nitrogen

crushed with a wooden mortar
 and finished with cucumber ice cream. An astonishingly well matched flavoursome dish

Marron, pine mushroom cream. The most delicate of crustaceans

Soft shell crab, tarragon. Beautifully presented

 Beef tongue, beetroot, bone marrow. I would happily have had a whole meal of this.

Assortment of cheeses, bread, jams, ready for service

 Kale, celery, coconut

Palate cleansers

Chocolate soufflé, quite excellent.

 A selection of petit-fours


Jelly two up coins!
  These just look like lamingtons they contained a soft meringue

Only the shells facing upwards were chocolate.
We drank 2004 Veuve Clicquot ‘Ponsardin’ RosĂ©, Reims, Champagne AOC, France and particularly enjoyed 2011 Martinborough Terraces Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand
Every aspect of this meal was impeccable. It was exquisite, delicate and beautifully presented. Staff were attentive, efficient and helpful. I could not have asked for anything better. 
In our book certainly the best restaurant in Victoria, the equal of any in Australia and as good as many three Michelin star restaurants at which we have eaten.
Score:19 /20

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Silks (Crown Entertaiment Complex, Melbourne) 05/2014

Silks has always been a place of great beauty with it's impressive silk tent, used as a bar until recently, dominating the main room of the restaurant. It's expensive and the food has always been good. Well spaced elegantly dressed tables, 
comfortable seating and first class service make it an excellent venue for special occasions. As well as an a la carte menu they offer a series of banquets for lunch from $45 to $128, dinner banquets from $108 to $158 and a vegetarian banquet for $99, which I am looking forward to trying soon.

On this occasion we took the top of the range dinner banquet.  
While waiting for the first course of coral trout fillet embedded in minced shrimp, pepper shrimp we were offered a dish of crisp sweet coated peanuts.

This course would not be out of place in a three star restaurant. It looked fantastic and it tasted as good as it looked. The coral trout a delicacy, beautifully prepared and the shrimp, which I would normally call a prawn, was well seasoned. The dish had everything, taste, texture, variety and presentation.

We were next served a selection of dim sum in a steaming hot bamboo basket. After we started eating it we noticed that this was not on our menu. Our waiter glossed over his error offering it as an extrafrom the chef! They were excellent. The Shanghai dumpling contained a flavoursome soup and fine pastry, and the three other dumplings, chicken, prawn and seafood were equally fine. An unexpected pleasure.

Stunning baked crab shell with crab meat, onions, coconut milk, cream, butter and cheese, brilliantly presented, was also something special. Very unusual, it is a fusion of western and Chinese cuisine. It is a dish of great delicacy with plenty of crab in the mixture.

Peking duck was the classical dish. The pancake was too thick and it looked a little lonely on the palate. The flavour could not be faulted.

Wok tossed lobster with mushrooms and vegetables was another very fresh and delicate dish with a good serve of lobster. There was a little too much ginger, which slightly dominated the taste of the lobster. I would also have preferred the broccoli, which was cooked beautifully, with crisp stems and soft florets, to have been served in smaller pieces as the chunks did not fit well with the fineness of the rest of the dish.

Pan fried Patagonian toothfish, with soy sauce and peas came next. This came from Canada. It is an extremely fine deep sea white fish. It is now being sustainably farmed at Heard Island, a bit of Australia, and I wish it had come from there. I would have liked a thicker fillet a little less cooked but one can hardly complain about such a delicacy served with a very light sauce.

Pan fried lamb cutlets with cumin scented abalone sauce were remarkably meltingly tender. The sauce was again very light. Not very Chinese but very delicious!

Fried rice, with scallops, chicken and Chinese wine was served with this, which was the last course before dessert.
Crispy mango rolls with flaked almonds ended the meal. These had been deep fried so as to make the outer pastry cover crisp, but not too oily, without melting the mango custard.

A couple of things irritated me. I thing a surcharge on credit cards at expensive restaurants is unreasonable. I would prefer it if they simply increased the price of the meal by $5 or $10. When we booked our table they insisted that we would have to leave by 8.15. Again I find this unacceptable if one is having an eight course dinner at considerable cost.
We both feel that the food, which, is now Western influenced Chinese, is that not the way of the world, was always good but now it is very very good.
Score: 16/20