Friday, 6 March 2009

Can't read my Pokerface.... Momo...

Everyday the GFC is plastered all over the news, but the threat of recession and spiral into dire straits feels like a world away when walking up the corridor entrance of the new & lavishly refurbished Grand Hyatt. Our destination for the night, Momo (mark II) was accessed going “down” the lifts to level 5.

From the first moment, it’s obvious that the fittings of the restaurant have been paid a lot of attention, everything with a quality feel, from the crockery to the furniture to the decorations. However I can’t help but feel that the opulence takes away from the homely vibes that I love in Middle Eastern restaurants – and although you’re underground it’s hard to forget that you’re eating in a hotel restaurant in the middle of the city.

We started on a bottle of Pinot Noir. Unusually the sommelier recommended the cheapest one – a Gold Medal Winner from the Tasmanian Pinot Show (apparently one of the best around). From memory it was from a place called Kelveton Estate – and there were only 10 barrels of this wine made (a rarity! $67 a bottle). This set a great tone to the start of the night, excellent service and wine.

Opening the oversized menu you will notice there are three menus to choose from, Arabesque (2 choices of entrée, 2 mains and 2 sides - $100), Moorish (all entrees, 2 mains & all sides $140), and Epic (I made that name up as I have forgotten the real name) which must be ordered in advance and is custom made to tastes. As we knew we would struggle to fit all of the food in, we decided for the Arabesque menu.

The mandatory bread came out but with a twist. It was served with very tasty pomegranate and oil – along with some raw organic vegetables (Capsicum, beans, baby carrot & cucumber). An unexpected yet strangely refreshing start to our dinner.

The hardest decision of the night came when deciding on which 2 of the entrees to order. We decided on the Duck & Fig Salad with Eggplant (dip) and the Wagyu tartare served and to be eaten with bread, picked vegetables, mint & spiced yoghurt. (The other two options were stuffed quail, and softshell crab). The duck was cooked to a perfect pink. Each mouthful was a perfect combination of flavours; the strongly spiced duck mixing well with the sweetness of fig and smokiness of eggplant. Dish of the night. The wagyu tartare was a unique version of the classic – served with mint, pickled vegies and flat bread, very tasty– however I couldn’t help but regret not ordering one of the other two options.

For our mains we decided on the Fish Tagine and Pigeon, overlooking the Roast Lamb Rack and Braised Kid (goat). The Fish Tagine was made up of two types of fish and some stuffed mussels on top of a flavoursome lemony/peppery broth. The tenderly poached fish had taken on the broth it was cooked in very nicely, and the mussels were probably the freshest I have ever tasted. The side of cous cous with yoghurt that came with it was the perfect foil to the lightness of the tagine. The pigeon came shredded and wrapped in filo pastry served on a cold crunchy salad that had a coleslaw-ish feel about it. This dish presented a great balance of temperatures and flavours– definitely worth ordering again. Though, the side of peas we ordered along with it were too heavy and left something to be desired.

A palate cleanser of pomegranate & vodka sorbet with shaved melon first came out. It was a clean and refreshing – a perfect start to our final meal endeavours. Dessert was a platter of, chocolate Turkish delight tart, meringue with cream and rose, and macadamia custard on a puree of fig. They all tasted amazing – my favourite being the Turkish delight chocolate tart – delish! Complimentary petit fours of the traditionals (Turkish delight, baklava, strawberry marshmallow & chocolate truffle) were served with our coffee.

Momo definitely met all the heightened expectations that are placed on going to a restaurant headed up with a chef as famous as Greg Malouf. You wouldn’t have guessed that this was a restaurant that just recently opened, the food was cooked perfectly and the service issue free. All in all leading a very good night! Definitely worth a revisit – probably in a bigger group!

3.5/5 yums!

Where? Lower Level 123 Collins Street Melbourne
What? $90/$140 for food


L: Immaculate presentations, impeccable service, fantastic flavours from the Middle East. Momo is the Nanny, stylish, flair, it's there so go to Momo. Momo Momo.

4/5 yums!

Note: L's photos, menu slightly different to Y's.

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