Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I was making fun of TimmyC that we were going to somewhere called ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ for lunch despite having booked months ahead. It wasn’t until I read the definition of the ‘dinner’ on the wall did I realise that maybe dinner didn’t mean what I thought it meant.Drinks~

Cider gimlet Calvados Domfrontais, acidulated butter, cider cordial ($24.00).Peter Pipe’s pickled lemon lemonade lemon juice, lemon brine, lemon sugar, soda ($14.00). My mouth is watering just thinking about this drink again. Man it was intensely lemony and tangy.Complimentary~

Bread and butter.Starters~

Meat Fruit mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread ($38.00). This was spectacular, visually and texturally. This seemed like the obvious choice for a photo but I really enjoyed tasting this even though I’m not a huge fan of pâté like objects. The mandarin gel covering was subtle and melted away almost at an instant when it hits the tongue. I was completely blown away by how creamy the pâté tasted and the airy light texture, which was a sharp contrast to the crunchy grilled bread.This is truly a work of art.Rice & Flesh saffron, curried kangaroo, red wine and amaranth ($38.00).Savoury Porridge garlic and parsley butter, grilled abalone, pickled beetroot and fennel ($36.00). The texture of the oats along with texture of the fennel reminded me of the snail porridge from Fat Duck. TimmyC said he thought that some of the elements of the dish seemed odd but when you put everything together, it all paired perfectly.Mains~

Slow Cooked Pork Belly Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce ($58.00). I have never had pork belly that was as white as the clouds that tasted like a Christmas ham. It was absolutely incredible. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my main, I leant over and helped myself to the pork belly.Chicken cooked with lettuces grilled onion emulsuion, oyster leaves and spiced parsnip sauce ($58.00).Specials~

David Blackmore Waygu (marbling score 9+ 200g) served with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips ($120.00 yes you read that right). I know what you’re thinking, if a ‘special’ is so special, why isn’t it on the menu? The only reason that it isn’t usually on the menu is because the steak isn’t always available so now that it was, I jumped at the chance!

I think there is nothing more sad than when a steak sits alone on a plate but seriously – this needed nothing else because it was perfect just the way it was. I didn’t even eat the mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips after tasting them (I hear you all gasping!). It was the nicest steak I’ve ever eaten; it was well seasoned but the meat itself was very flavoursome and it almost didn’t require chewing because it melted in your mouth. The only downside is that it has ruined me for other steak.That marbling- WOW!The triple cooked chips were really crunchy.Desserts~

Tipsy cake spit roast pineapple with a freshly baked brioche ($32.00). When the waiter was describing how the pineapple was prepared by spit roasting while being basted in an apple salted caramel sauce, I was sold! What really surprised me about the dessert was the amazing freshly made brioche; it completely blew me away. I spent a lot of my time sniffing its intoxicating scent, it reminded me of stepping into a bakery. The brioche is finished off with brandy and Sauternes cream which was like an amazing bread and butter pudding on another level. I would have this every day if I could.Want a bite?The beautiful pineapples slowly being spit roasted while being basted every now and then.Chocolate bar passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream ($30.00).The Lamington cake raspberry jam, toasted coconut, rum and vanilla ice cream ($30.00).A little something something~

Just when we thought the experience was about to end, we were given an extra little something sweet before we left. Chocolate ganache with carraway seed biscuit– the ganache was extremely soft and smooth and the biscuit was the perfect accompaniment because it offset the sweetness.We found the service to be very attentive, efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t wait for a special occasion, just come here and experience fantastic food.Venue: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Address: Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Valley Grill

Some people found it odd that I went from Biota and Tetsuya’s to eating at my local Southern Cross Club at the Valley Grill with my family for my birthday, but what they didn’t know was that I was trying out their new menu to eat a beef cheek that I had been craving since Peppercress shut their doors.

Since the closure of Peppercress, some of the menu has been adopted down stairs at the casual dining area of Valley Grill. It is family friendly (it even has a kid’s gaming area), has decent prices and can cater for big numbers.

Mains~

Char Grilled Camden Valley Chicken Breast succulent corn fed chicken breast, marinated with oregano and garlic and served with Tassie thick cut chips, tossed green salad and a creamy mushroom and brandy sauce ($24.00).
48 Hour Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek rosemary and thyme marinated Wagyu beef cheeks gently braised in red wine and served with Parisian mash, sautéed mushrooms, smoked bacon and a red wine jus ($27.00).It is still the tender ‘meat cloud’ that I remembered it to be. I was worried that there was be a slight variation between transferring this cuisine downstairs but they didn’t disappoint. Yum, yum, yum!
Vegetarian Mediterranean Strudel char grilled farm fresh vegetables, halloumi cheese and baby rocket pesto in a filo strudel, served with tossed salad leaves and tomato couli ($20.00).
Porcini mushroom risotto porcini mushroom risotto served with crispy sage leaves, toasted pine nuts and freshly shaved grana padano cheese ($20.00). I almost got food envy when I got to try this. It is a creamy, rich and cheesy risotto that is definitely a winter warmer.
Chicken schnitzel premium chicken breast schnitzel rolled in Panko breadcrumbs and served with Tassie thick cut chips, tossed salad leaves and fresh coleslaw ($19.00). We were shocked to see that the schnitzel didn’t come with gravy (!!!), so we had to ask for some before we started eating. It was a nice succulent piece of chicken but I prefer traditional breadcrumbs on my schnitzel and a thicker gravy.
Chicken Parmigiana premium chicken breast schnitzel rolled in Panko breadcrumbs, topped with Napoli sauce and cheese. Served with Tassie thick cut chips and tossed salad leaves ($21.00).
Even though I was eating from the new menu, it seemed like everyone else chose their meal from the more traditional club menu. Everyone generally enjoyed their dinner but I preferred the new additions to the menu over the club favourites.

Seriously, the plating was a bit OTT, I found the ridiculous pots holding the salad and chips almost as useless as a deconstructed coffee (see more ridiculous plating here). It made the mains look very small in comparison and they were very hard to eat out of.

Sure, this isn’t fine dining on the south side but there are food good options for those who are dining with large numbers or lots of children and no one wants to do the dishes.

Venue: Valley Grill

Address: Southern Cross Club

Access: A member needs to sign you in

Phone:  (02) 6293 7200

Valley Grille Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tetsuya’s rerun

I had the best time with other foodies at the Food Lovers Trivia Night for Oz Harvest; it is such a wonderful cause and another bonus was when TimmyC surprised me by winning the silent auction that allowed us to have a degustation at Tetsuya’s with matching wines.

We quickly decided that we would go for my birthday and we booked several weeks in advance. I love where Tetsuya’s is located, it is a very unassuming building amongst all the hustle and bustle of the city.We were seated near the window on the ground floor to overlook their beautiful peaceful garden. They were very accommodating when we explained that we don’t drink wine (I know, I’m such a waste TheFoodMarshall) and they suggested we could get the tea pairing.Tetsuya’s set degustation menu ($230 per person normally)

Complimentary bread and whipped truffle butter.Pacific oysters with ginger and rice vinegar. I remember when I had my first dressed oyster from Tetsuya’s, it was incredible and the same overwhelming feeling came across me as I had it 5 years later. The dressing enhances the flavour but you can definitely still taste the natural oyster. What a wonderful way to start the meal.Tuna with kohlrabi. It was a perfectly dressed tuna that was so super fresh, I wanted more than the three pieces given to me.Warm octopus salad with fennel & shiso oil. A simple salad with remarkably soft tender octopus.Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple & unpasteurised ocean trout roe. This is Tetsuya’s signature dish, it is stunning visually and tastewise. I don’t want to describe it, I want you all go to and taste this for yourself. It has been on their menu for over twenty years and for a good reason!Grilled Shio Koji toothfish with fregola and roma tomatoes. I loved the texture of the toothfish as it reminded me a cross of mudcrab and scallops but without the sweetness.You could have easily mistaken it for scallop meat when you take a spoonful.Miso cured duck breast with pumpkin and cauliflower. This was well executed but I didn’t think it was anything special. It might sound pompous but I think it was because everything had been so great up until this point.Beef tenderloin with mushroom cream. I was hoping for a more flavoursome beef, it was very tender but I feel that the seafood items were much much better. Lychee granita with strawberries and coconut. A beautiful clean refreshing dessert with all my favourite fruits. I’m very tempted to make a variation of this at home for summer.Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake. This had the most beautiful mirror finish but I had to move TimmyC away from the table because no matter what angle I moved my camera, I could see his reflection on the cake. I was so impressed with the neat presentation of such a delicate dessert. The chocolate glaze encased a beautiful soft not OTT chocolate mousse, a real delight to eat.All gone!Petits Fours vanilla macaron dusted with bee pollen and a mango filling along side a perfectly delicate toffee chocolate with a biscuit base. Both made really well but the chocolate blew us away with the flavours and intricate detail.The discs were so delicate, so much effort for a little petit four.Tea pairing~

It was amazing to have a tea pairing with our degustation, I’ve never had one before. The teas varied from hot and cold and also carbonated.  Each tea was chosen especially to compliment the food from darker teas for meat courses and the most sweet-smelling concoction served with dessert. I loved it all (although as a result of so much tea, I did go to the bathroom a lot) but my favourite might have been the cocoa with matcha as I’ve never had anything like it.

Buddha’s tears brewed with spice and orange peel.

Single estate organic sencha green from Kyoto stirred with lime.

Gently infused darjeeling with thyme, rosemary and basil served chilled with bubbles.

Yunnan red from one of China’s most ancient tea growing regions.

Orange pekoe brewed with red fruits and vanilla pod.

West African red cocoa with soy milk and macha.
The staff were very attentive and very knowledgeable which always adds to a good experience. Our 4 hour lunch just flew by with incredible food, drink and company.

See my first experience with terrible photos here.

Venue: Tetsuya’s

Address: 529 Kent Street, Sydney 2000

Phone(02) 9267 2900

Biota re-run

I could not visit Bowral without going to Biota, the restaurant holds a special place in my heart because that is where TimmyC proposed to me. We have been there multiple times; the first visit was an eye widening, jaw dropping meal as we had never had that kind of dining experience before. The second time, I didn’t love it as much and I was starting to wonder if they were doing unusual things for the sake of being avant-garde and the third was a casual encounter on the bar side trying to eat as many croquettes as I could.Keen to add it to my birthday dining list, TimmyC booked weeks in advance so we didn’t miss out.Cooler months Five courses ($110.00 pp)

Snacks~Pear and cheese. This reminded me of a sheep milk cigar I had at MoVida, the outer layer is chewy and sweet which offset the tartness of the cheese.Kangaroo and Acacia jerky This was really tough jerky (but I guess most of them are), but the kangaroo flavours were subtle which is good because I don’t usually enjoy the strong aftertaste of kangaroo.Tasty Dory roe fish smoked roe with charcoal lavosh bread, garlic oil and salsa verde. I could not believe how much I enjoyed this. When I ran out of lavosh bread I started slathering it on the rye loaf.

Molasses and Rye loaf with cultured butter. I found the crust a little too tough and chewy but that is my personal preference.  The soft bready centre created a wonderful transportation system to get all the tasty dory roe into my mouth.

The bread is hiding in the fur pouch.Mains~

Creamed eggs, spanner crab and persimmon. This was perfection. The richness of this dish reminded me of the delicious crab dish from Noma but the flavours reminded me of a burnt butter sage pasta.Whipped potato, hen yolk and cabbage buds confit hens yolk, whipped potato, garden Brussels sprouts and egg white pearls. I was really surprised that the cabbage leaves were more sweet rather than bitter. The whipped potato was light in flavour and texture which went well with the rich yolk and refreshing cabbage leaves.Peek-a-boo, there is the egg yolk!Pastured fed beef cooked over coals beef cooked over coals with leeks and potato. My favourite things on a plate. The beef itself had lots of flavour but the leeks and potato it to another whole savoury level. I would have preferred a bigger portion but that’s just me being selfish.Dessert~

Sheep yoghurt and our honey. Tim was ready to hand over his plate when they said sheep yoghurt, but he was probably glad that I prompted him to try it first as he was scraping the last of his bowl while I was finishing up with my photos. There was no strong aftertaste that I usually find with most sheep dairy products. The tartness of the yoghurt was sweetened with the perfect amount of honey and I loved the abundance of the finger lime. It was so ridiculous how good this dessert was even though it was so simple, it was just a perfect balance of flavours.Mandarin and goats milk custard. The mandarin powder coating had a slight bitterness to it but it quickly dissipated as the delicate sweetness of the meringue and centre hits the palate. The softness texture of the ball with the icy sorbet reminded me of the snow egg from Quay.

It is so sweet that they put a candle in for my birthday.Beverages~ I ordered the non-alcoholic juice pairing which was really good and I loved how complex the flavours were ($50.00pp?).

Lemonade, smoke apple and pear juice, red grapes with cinnamon cloves and bitters and ending with caramelised pomegranate and grapefruit. 
I loved how the menu keeps evolving and changing almost every week to encompass local fresh produce. We really enjoyed our meal and the service was perfection. Ingredients are not puréed, chopped or foamed, they appear  whole and are paired perfectly with each other. It is almost like there was minimal cooking (but a lot of talent) and it was showcasing the best produce.

Venue: Biota

Address: 18 Kangaloon Rd, Bowral NSW 2576

Phone(02) 4862 2005

Entertainment book: I’m so annoyed I forgot to use my Canberra 2016/17 book, I told TimmyC he will have to take me again.
Biota Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Katers restaurant 

We had just booked our accommodation in Bowral when I saw the Groupon voucher that was an absolute steal for Katers restaurant at Peppers Manor House. The deal included three courses and a bottle of wine for $85.00 for two people.

We were slightly amused with our waitress. She was an older woman who didn’t seem too fussed that the restaurant was really busy and had a very blasé attitude about everything as she casually pottered about.

Groupon voucher: three courses and a bottle of wine for $85.00 for two people, but I’ve written the prices from the menu.

The white and red wine options that are included in the Groupon voucher.Complimentary bread and butter~

The bread was served warm and there was plenty of butter, the perfect combination!Amuse bouche~

Rockmelon with goats cheese, ash and prosciutto. When I asked our blasé waitress about where the prosciutto was, she simply shrugged and said she would ask the kitchen but she never came back with an answer.Entrees~

Seared scallops and Rodriquez spiced chorizo, roasted cauliflower puree, squid ink meringue, coriander oil ($24.00). These scallops were much plumper than the ones we had at lunch and it has been a while since I’ve had such delicious scallops. The chorizo was also very nice, while the puree really help meld all the strong flavours together. We were very happy with our entree and were quite excited for what was to come.Confit quail terrine, toffee parsnip, spear, watercress, cumin ($23.00).Mains~

Pan seared duck breast, kumara, hazelnut crumble, cherry glaze, whiskey coffee gel ($40.00). My friend joked and asked where the rest of his carrots were as they mostly appeared to be the tops. I jokingly replied that they were on the lamb dishes.Maugers lamb back strap, braised baby leek, roasted garlic crushed, roasted Kipfler potato, eggplant caviar, chilli fig, rosemary jus ($39.00). I was really disappointed with the portion sizes; there was just two tiny pieces of lamb for almost 40 bucks, I’m glad we came in with a voucher. Marseille bouillabaisse, today’s market fish, cold water langoustine, scallop, saffron rouille ($40.00). I loved the intense prawn head flavour throughout the soup base and it had nice meaty seafood textures to compliment but it is these same aspects that made my friend not like her main. It goes to show each to their own.Desserts~

Chestnut bitter chocolate torte, raspberry egg, espresso and hazelnut ice cream ($21.00).Lemon panna cotta, rhubarb foam, coconut parfait, lime cannoli ($18.00). This had way too much gelatin in it, we could tell from the moment it was placed down in front of us with its stiff movement.Blood orange and almond pudding, lychee sorbet, pomegranate ($21.00). We had to remind the waitress that this dessert came with lychee sorbet and she rushed back into the kitchen to have it added.Toffee apple tea cake, camomile  ice cream ($18.00). I liked how the cake looked like a cross between a toffee apple and a real apple but made the cake very messy and difficult to eat. The cake’s sweetness comes from its sticky toffee coating which was balanced by the ice cream.House cheese: aerated Manuka honey blue, lavender Bergamot, rosemary and thyme labna, local Camembert, local goat’s cheese, selection of breads and crackers ($26.00). The last cheese platter I ate/stole from was amazing (see my post here) but I left most of this on the platter. I found some of the cheese bland while some of the other cheeses were pungent, especially the goats cheese.We definitely got our money’s worth considering my three courses was more expensive than the voucher for two people. The food quality was okay, but definitely nowhere near the calibre of which they had advertised to be (it is supposed to be a hatted restaurant by the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide). It was a shame because they started the night off so strong with our entrees.

I think everything sounded really fancy on paper but the execution missed the mark and therefore the prices are too high for the actual food quality. I wouldn’t come here again considering there is so much good food around the Bowral area.

Venue: Katers restaurant

Address: Kater Rd, Sutton Forest, NSW

Phone: (02) 4860 3102

 

Katers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Centennial Vineyards re-run

It had been years since my last visit to Centennial Vineyards and yet I vividly remember the beautiful surrounds, the amazing food presentation and the lovely company I was with. I wanted to share this experience with TimmyC and some very close friends, so when we found ourselves booking a weekend away in Bowral, it was definitely one of the first places that I booked.

The menu had many crowd pleasers and that made it difficult to decide what to order, but TimmyC chose all three of his courses within two minutes of looking at the menu. I adjusted my order knowing that TimmyC was a light weight and I would get to try his meals as well.

Amuse Bouche~

Curried parsnip soup. A nice way to start the meal. It reminded me of the curry pasta from Continental range, but it was very smooth and silky.Grazing~

Pulled lamb shoulder, flat bread, yoghurt and mint jelly (2 pieces $15.00).Entree~

The Centennial tasting slate salmon, pork terrine, goats cheese tart, cauliflower soup, rockmelon wrapped with proscuitto, chicken pate with a crouton ($24.00). An option for the indecisive, so I obviously chose it as my entree as it had a nice range of things to taste. I can sense that my taste buds are changing and now I’m more open to pate and the like but still my favourite was the tart or the terrine, while my friend really enjoyed the rockmelon wrapped with proscuitto.

Seared scallops, bacon relish, apple and radish salad ($24.00). A perfect combination of juicy scallops and bacon with a little bit of sweetness from the apple. Definitely my pick of entrees if I didn’t want to try a bit of everything.Pasta~

Rotolo pasta of braised lamb, feta, olives and eggplant, romesco sauce ($29.00). I have never seen a pasta served like this and from afar it almost looked like lamb served with a big bone in. My friend enjoyed his pasta but the serve was on the smaller side.Main~

Cider braised pork belly, caramelised applies, sage and onion puree, smoked ham hock crouqette, crispy crackling ($38.00). The crackling was super crispy as promised and it provided a good contrasting texture to the ridiculously tender fall apart pork. This was definitely a winter warmer dish with all the rich components and very filling portion.Butchers weekly choice cut (Sirloin) cooked to your liking served with watercress, cafe de Paris butter and onion rings ($40.00). I would have much rather a lightly dressed salad if they insisted on greenery but instead they chose watercress and a lot of it. I really enjoyed the onion rings, they were well crumbed and crunchy without being overly oily. The steak was okay, I didn’t think it was well seasoned but that’s where handfuls of chips between each bite came in handy. I think I had food envy from the people who ordered the pork belly.Slow cooked duck leg, Centennial Pinot Noir sauce, crumbed beetroot gnocchi, Tuscan cabbage and bacon ($37.00)Sides~

Cauliflower and cheese gratin ($9.00). A nice cheesy cauliflower gratin, what’s there not to like?

Fries with Dijon mustard mayonnaise ($9.00). Came out hot and fresh from the kitchen and definitely went well with my steak.Desserts~

Banoffee ice cream sundae ($16.00). This was a delicious dessert with generous portions but I would not have called it a banoffee anything. With all the different ice creams and caramel sauce, it really just reminded us of a sundae.Trio of chocolate mousse ($16.00). I felt that the milk chocolate mousse was so light and silky, it quickly became my favourite amongst the trio, although the dessert as a whole was visually stunning. It isn’t a large dessert for the price but my friend and I still had to share since the entree and main sizes were ample.Everyone really enjoyed all of their courses but for me it didn’t live up to what I remembered it a few years ago. I don’t know if they have changed chefs, but the food wasn’t as good even though it still stands for a stunning backdrop for a wedding (the main dining area is always set up for a wedding as it is a popular choice for a venue). The service was very attentive and friendly. Though they made several mistakes on the bill, they were more than happy to adjust it.

Centennial Vineyards Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Booking ahead

I’m more of a spontaneous diner but in one week TimmyC has booked several restaurants in anticipation for my birthday month. The list of restaurants includes:

  1. Biota
  2. Tetsuya’s
  3. Centennial Vineyards
  4. Katers restaurant at Peppers Manor House
  5. Dinner by Heston

and I also booked a Food Safari that my friends were nice enough to get for me for Christmas. It is going to be a delicious and busy month!

Attica – birthday promises

Ready, get set… Book!

TimmyC had promised to take me to Attica for my birthday next year; we rarely plan ahead but for meals like this we will. As it so happens, we have been given a generous offer of free accommodation with family until the end of the year and we jumped at the opportunity.

I told TimmyC to book Attica for around November unaware of their booking system. Apparently they only release booking blocks of up to three months in advance and new dates are released the first Wednesday of each month, which happen to be last week. From my blanket fort in the lounge room, I reminded TimmyC last week that he had to make a very important phone call at 9am. It turns out that all the bookings are made online and as soon as the phone message prompted him to go on the website TimmyC rushed online. Dates quickly became dashed from the calendar, TimmyC panics and fumbles for his mouse. The 21st of November was already dashed but he clicked on it anyway. Presto! He was able to make a booking for 3 people that night anyway.

WOHOO, we’re in! And now we wait…

p.s.
Yes I realise I have already been very spoilt this year.
p.p.s.
No this will no longer count as my birthday present TimmyC