Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ezard, Melbourne

187 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph : (03) 9639 6811
Open Weekdays 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm; Sat 6pm-10:30pm

I was fortunate enough to have spent a quick weekend in Melbourne recently with a friend to celebrate her birthday. Our only criteria was that the restaurant needed to be open on a Monday evening. After much searching, we were recommended Ezard. This Melbourne establishment has been around for the last decade, and we looked forward to trying the degustation that was created by Teage Ezard and the head chef, Sharn Greiner. Talking to the maître d', it seems Teage Ezard is more of a menu consultant than being on the ground, cooking.

The restaurant is partially hidden on Flinders Lane, with the entrance below ground level. Initially we walked passed it without realising, but soon enough we found the restaurant. Being such a well-known establishment, it doesn't need to "shout and draw attention" to itself for patrons. We were greeted warmly at the door and efficiently, we settled into our table. The surrounding was semi-dark, and romantically lit with table-top candles. The ambience is one of warmth and sophistication.

We chose the 8 course degustation and the sommelier was accommodating to customising matching wines to our specification.

The bread was an interesting experience. The bread is dipped into the garlic and parmesan infused olive oil and three different dipping salts, first the bonito and kombu, second the chilli and sugar, and third condiment being Szechuan spice. This was a taste sensation, I overloaded on the bread with all permutations of the olive oil and the condiments!

Our amuse bouche was Salmon sashimi with coriander and soy sauce. Taken in  a single mouthful, I was met with a mouthful of carefully balanced sweetness from the salmon and the coriander. This was indeed a delight.

The first course of the degustation, which arrived with the amuse bouche, was Oyster cooked in sake and mirin with dash of wasabi. Again, a delightful dish with the natural sweetness of sake coming through in harmony with the buttery oyster. These two Japanese-inspired dishes were perfectly matched to a glass of non-vintage Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.

The Japanese-inspired dishes continued with Black sesame crusted kingfish with wasabi, edamame puree and lime custard. Again, the freshness of the sashimi could not be ignored here, but what I admired was the balance that was achieved between the Kingfish and the dressing without the Kingfish flavour being overwhelmed. For this dish, this was matched to a 2009 Grace Gris de Koshu from Katsunuma (Japan). The wine was a pleasant surprise, as I have never tried japanese white wine before and koshu is not a varietal I am familiar with. In addition, because of the recent nuclear disaster, we were informed it will be awhile before another vintage is released.

By the third dish, I was beginning to wonder whether I was in an Asian restaurant rather than Western restaurant but again, the Steamed Queensland tiger prawn dumplings with seared baby abalone in Japanese plum wine dressing was fantastic. My slightly criticism here was that the plum wine was slightly over-powering of the delicate flavour of the prawn and abalone.

The fourth dish was Crispy fried white polenta with sauteed mushrooms, peas, poached egg in truffle oil and soft herbs. Another beautiful dish that was perfectly matched to a 2009 Luke Lambert  Nebbiolo from Heathcote in Victoria.

The fifth dish was Baby Barramundi with caramelised eggplant and lime salad in yellow curry dressing. A beautiful dish with the barramundi steamed perfectly and not over-cooked. I was  particularly impressed that the curry flavour complimented the sweetness of the fish rather than over-power it, as curry can sometimes do.

[Sorry, but there's no photo of the Barramundi. We dug in and didn't realise that we'd forgotten to take a photo until we we'd eaten half of it. Oops]

Our sixth dish was the Five spiced Bangalow sweet pork belly with yellow bean and peanut dressing and apple slaw salad. How awesome is this pork belly. This dish was matched to a 2009 Gamay from Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly.

The last savoury dish was the Chinese roast duck with green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and Asian greens. Can I say this is a fantastic way to have my duck! An interesting interpretation of the Chinese way of cooking duck. The duck was tender, absolutely succulent, and matched well to the coriander and carrot garnishes.

Lastly, the dessert, Bittersweet chocolate torte, five spiced cumquats and praline ice cream. No complaints here from myself or my companion. A totally satisfying way to finish our dinner.

Ezard is a gem amongst the Melbourne dining establishment. The food was fantastic, the wait-staff helpful and efficient without being intrusive, and we left Melbourne with a lasting memory of a great night. Their 8 course degustation is a very interesting contemporary Australian menu with a variety of influences from many Asian cultures/ cuisines which reflects the multiculturalism of the modern Australian society.


Ezard on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Sigh. Looks so good. [AP]

5pandas said...

guess I am going to have to fly down to Melbourne now to give this a go. what a gorgeous variety of dishes. very nice piece dear. thanks.

initialjh said...

thanks 5Pandas! all good and I hope you can go and enjoy the place - plus a w/e down in Portsea or Sorento with day spa and pinot noir :)