Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Three, One, Two (Aug 2007)

The excuse to return, taking the man that nobody likes and cares about for his birthday. Least there was one person that did that night… charming, knowledgeable, confident, casually suave, extremely handsome (female Sydney friends Dec 2006) … that’s just the maître d'. These are qualities also embodied in Andrew McConnell’s amazing restaurant in Carlton. Military netting drapes the front, Dalmatian spotted floor, Bentwoods and an energy inefficient multi-globe chandelier epitomise the chilled yet funky vibe.

Degustation begins, with oysters from Bateman’s Bay, dressed with a tangy preserved lemon vinaigrette, cucumber balls and salty crunchy seaweed. A gentle way to refresh the palate as McConnell points the barrel of a gun in your mouth and pulls the trigger releasing an explosion of flavours. Seared scallop with tuna also touching the hot plate momentarily on one side fantastic in its natural state with nuttiness from a sprinkling of sesame oil. Normally the anger vein on my forehead would be popping if a plate without meat is served, but not apparent after consuming a wonderful mixture of pillowy cubes of pumpkin, carrot and mushroom with a softly sour labna, fenugreek shoots and slivers of almonds. Pearl barley cooked in a seasoned broth (texture not too dissimilar from slightly undercooked brown rice) accompanies booby and succulent thigh of a guinea-fowl, flavour like its brother turkey. Premium venison hailing from Cervena, NZ is cooked to a medium rare, the lovely gamey flavour of Bambi lovingly assaulted by a harmony of pumpkin puree and coffee oil with an “I’d be impressed if you could make that at home” potato mash foam.

A wickedly mild blue St Agur perfect to be sweetened by poached quince and ginger snap transitions one to desserts. Lovers of Earl Grey will go googly eyed over this magnificent piece of culinary ingenuity in an oversized shotglass, this tea jelly strewn with sweet, crispy fresh diced apple and hints of a liquorice foam float atop. You think it’s yummy until you encounter the deliciously tasty deconstructed chocolate ganache, the rich sponge finger with a silky mousse on the side, accompanied by a dark chocolate sorbet, bitterness further highlighted by a dark beer stout jelly.

On that fitting note, it’s over. Thinking of my next excuse to do it all again, I need someone to console me. I feel a comforting hand on my aching back, it’s the maître d'… “There there now, there’s always next time… so what’s your Sydney friend’s number?” (Note: the preceding event is completely fictious)

4 / 5 yums!


Where? 312 Drummond St, Carlton, VIC

What? 7-course degustation $110, Matching wines - $70

Left to Right : Clair de Lune Oysters; Seared scallops & sashimi tuna; Winter vegetable salad with fenugreek shoots & air dried sheeps milk cheese; Poached guinea-fowl with pearl barley pilaf & savoy cabbage; Seared Cervena venison with pumpkin and coffee; St Agur with poached quince, toasted walnuts & pain d’epices; Earl Grey tea jelly with fresh apple & liquorice; Chocolate ganache with stout jelly, chocolate sorbet and bay leaf cream, house cakes

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