Offering me their seasonal degustation menu as a birthday present (complimentary with at least another full-paying diner), it was too good an offer to refuse. Blowing in from the wind, we find ourselves seated at the spacious but quiet bar for cocktails before the meal.
|Hand made grissini from Alio, Baptist Street, Surry Hills|
With matching wines to our 10-course degustation, the first three courses arrived in a flurry following the rather celebratory Chrismont Brut Reserve Sparkling from Victoria’s King Valley.
Hand-made grissini could hardly be called a course, but it was served with a gorgeous, pillowy rosemary focaccia, marinated organic olives and some seriously good nubs of 40-month old Reggiano Parmigiano cheese that’s excitingly refined.
|Potato and celeriac soup|
|Baked eggplant with buffalo mozzarella, basil and tomato salsa|
Served with (I think) a 25-year-old balsamic vinegar, oil-doused tomato salsa, chives and baby basil leaves, we could definitely have gone another three of these each; so well-balanced and scrumptious they were.
The Mas Donis Rosat Montsant from Spain came with an explanation from the sommelier and matched exceedingly well; a deep pink rose of sweet floral top notes followed with a pleasantly dry finish.
|Salmon gravlax with crostini and crème fraiche|
The deafeningly crunchy crostini was the perfect carrier for the thin, orange slices of fish, which had just a touch of fishiness towards the end of the dish, which was easy to ignore with more crème fraiche with each bite.
The crisp yet complex house white wine from Cheshunt, Victoria again matched well though arrived sans explanation or tasting notes (as did the rest of the wines for the evening).
|Pan fried salami with wet polenta and herb butter|
While the subdued, grainy polenta offset the flavour-packed salami rounds, it felt a little like a collision of a side dish and an antipasti rather than a dish proper. This was served with a gorgeous Corte Giara Pinot Grigio from Venice.
|Potato gnocchi with braised ox tail and parmesan|
|Lamb shoulder, slow cooked for 12 hours, with pea mash|
This was served with my favourite matched wine of the night: the Little Demon Cabernet Merlot from South Australia’s McLaren Vale which held its own against the robust lamb dish.
There were to be two dessert wines; the first – a pretty, saccharine Stella Bella Pink Muscat from Western Australia’s Margaret River – served alongside the in-house made mandarin sorbet, which was spot on and reminded me a little of these mandarin jelly lollies I used to be addicted to.
|Caramelised lemon tart with lemon ice cream|
In all, it was a little pedestrian but was lifted by the creamy lemon ice cream. The lightly fizzy Grani di Sole Moscato di’Asti from Mombaruzzo, Italy was a fun note to end on – sweet enough to combat both the tart and ice cream.
So, ten courses, eight wines and 27 years down, it was a relatively quiet birthday celebration this year, centred on three dinners and a lunch, a fair bit of wine – and not to forget a voucher for some pretty new shoes. That’s a combined offer I certainly cannot refuse.