After contacting and seeing the venue spaces at The National Portrait Gallery, we told them our views on tasting food before deciding on a venue and they were very friendly and open to the idea. They were flexible with the dates (as long as it was a weekday) and organised it rather quickly with no fuss and therefore it was the first venue we had a wedding tasting at. We were invited to choose 6 canapes, 3 entrees, 3 mains and 3 desserts from their menu selection.
The day of the tasting came. We didn’t know what to expect as this was our first official one, but you gotta start somewhere I guess! We were led away from the bustling cafe to a sectioned off area in their Terrace room. Inside was a singular round table with a place setting for two facing the window where we watched kids run past with their parents chasing after them.Crisp white linen, a fancy napkin ring and the table set for three courses. I guess this helped us to envision our wedding day. We were offered beverages but we politely declined and stuck with chilled water.Canapes x 6~
They didn’t waste any time bringing out the food. A large board was placed in front of us and I liked the ease of each item being eaten with minimal mess, this is definitely what I look for when looking at canapes for a function (not that I’ve turned down a chicken wing while holding a drink and clutch during a cocktail function).
Moroccan spiced chicken tartlet, coriander cress. The tartlet shell seemed a little fragile but it held up when I bit into it. The flavours were very nice and the chicken pieces were the perfect size.Pork belly, apple puree, crackle (gf). I love me so pork belly so I was super keen to try this but I found it really underwhelming and disappointing. The pork was really dry and was on the verge of being pork ‘jerky’, while the apple puree tasted like it came from a can. It was a shame as a good pork belly can be amazing!A closer look at the dry pork.Salt & pepper king prawn, lemongrass, chilli dip (gf). The prawn itself was really salty, it wasn’t until I ‘rinsed’ it in the chilli dip that it became easier to eat.Roast pumpkin, chives, pine nut tart, harissa (V). TimmyC did not like these flavours at all, I think it was mainly because of the harissa. I didn’t mind it but I didn’t go out of my way to finish the rest of his.Poached corn & gruyere croquette, tomato jam (V). This was one of my more exciting choices from the menu as I love croquettes, corn AND cheese although with this I couldn’t taste the corn nor the cheese. It was more of a tasteless mush with a crispy coating. The tomato jam was lovely and sweet though.Peking duck pancake, hoisin sauce. I liked the duck pancake, I just thought it was unusual that they had bean sprouts in it.
Seared Tasmanian scallops, pumpkin, beurre noisette, crisp capers. The pumpkin was amazing with the buttery taste from the beurre noisette and the crispy capers added the perfect amount of salt, I could have licked that plate clean. What would have made it absolutely perfect would be if the scallops were seared just a tad more.
Crisp pork belly, beetroot, witlof, coriander cress, merlot vinaigrette (gf v). The pork was more moist then the canapé version but the crackle wasn’t crisp enough and kept getting stuck in my teeth. For something that had such vibrant colour, the beetroot wasn’t overwhelming and complimented the protein rather than overpower it.
Poached crab, avocado mousse, seared bean sprouts, apple gel (gf). I think I just saw the word ‘crab’ in the description and chose this dish. The crab was served cold but upon reviewing the description I guess it would be, if I had known this I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. I got a bit of shell in my portion and I couldn’t taste the crab meat but the avocado mousse was very smooth. I don’t see how (again with the apple puree) the apple went with it all, between the puree, mousse and the soft crab mixture, it felt like I was eating baby food.Main x3~
Pan roast barramundi, bacon lardons, braised savoy, celery cream, puy lentils (gf). I thought that the barramundi was extremely dry and probably would have been better if it was steamed or served with more of a sauce. The lentils didn’t help with the ‘dryness’ either but I did enjoy what little there was of the celery cream. Knowing I had other mains to try and dessert yet to come, I didn’t finish this dish and was really disappointed.Roast duck breast, pearl barley, pea puree, madeira sauce, pea sprouts. The duck looked delicious with its skin and nice layer of fat but I felt there wasn’t enough salt on the skin or in the meat and I expected more flavours from the skin.I didn’t really enjoy the pearl barley and pea puree so this is what was left of my plate. I didn’t really enjoy the meat overall, I think I just had the mentality that I paid for the meal so I thought I’d finish it off.Beef fillet, porcini puree, confit of garlic, pommes anna, port jus (gf). The steak was cooked perfectly, the porcini ‘puree’ added that extra kick of salt and the potato balanced it all out. You could really taste the flavours of the beef and it was well seasoned. The perfect dish to serve at a wedding as steak is usually a crowd pleaser, if they can do this uniformly across the alternate serve it would be great! Cooked perfectly, well for me it is anyway.They said that during the wedding function that each table would also get a bowl of mixed salad greens. I was too full to get around to eating this but they looked fresh and well oiled.Dessert x3~ Towards the end of the mains, the event sales coordinator informs us that since we had last spoken, the head chef had been moved to another position within the Trippas White Group but the new head chef specializes in desserts and one of her specialties is panna cotta. I couldn’t wait to dig in. When the deserts came out and I returned from the bathroom, I had found that TimmyC took the liberty of ordering me a tea and himself a flat white. I took a deep breath as I looked across three plates of dessert and a selection of petit fours, I could feel myself getting full.
Vanilla bean panna cotta, mango gel, almond tuile (gf available). I nudged the panna cotta with my spoon. It didn’t really move. That can’t be good. The whole thing felt a bit ‘stiff’ and solid. I looked and Tim, we were not impressed (it probably didn’t help that I ate the best panna cotta of my life just days before), I think we stopped eating it when we hit a ‘cyst’ of vanilla beans which looked like they came from a vanilla bean paste rather than from a pod. If this was going to be the chef’s specialty, I wasn’t too keen on try her other desserts.It almost had the consistency of softened cream cheese. Not what I look for in a panna cotta and finding this cyst of vanilla beans didn’t help either.Passion fruit curd tart, compressed pineapple, vanilla cream. I really enjoyed this tart (phew), it had the right amount of tartness balanced with the right amount of sweetness. The tart was on the bigger side but it was delicious enough to devour it all if you didn’t just eat 6 canapes, 1.5 entrees and most of 3 mains. A generous serve but would be delightful especially in the warmer months.Chocolate mousse, chocolate sponge, crispy praline, anglaise (gf). I dislike desserts that are OTT and have so much sugar and chocolate thrown together to make any chocoholic buckle at the knees and give them instant diabetes. Most people don’t finish desserts like that, but this, this I could keep eating. Despite all the chocolate components with the addition of an anglaise, it wasn’t overwhelming which I find very rare in any chocolate-y dessert. A++, would eat again!Timmy C said that the petit fours looked they came straight from a fridge and he was right. I sampled one and it was stale, dry and tasted like old cake that had been stored in the fridge without cling wrap. I proceeded to taste each one just to make sure I didn’t just choose a bad one but unfortunately they were all the same.We mainly only saw the event sales coordinator during the tasting. She lead us to our table and she brought our food, at no point did we meet any kitchen staff. She was very polite and allowed TimmyC and I to enjoy our food in privacy. When I enquired about payment for the tasting on the day, she said not to worry and that she already had my credit card details and that she would email me in a few days. I thought it was a nice touch as this meant that we really just focused on food for the duration. They allocated 1.5 hrs for this tasting but probably hadn’t encountered anyone that eats as slow as me, for us the duration of the tasting actually took closer to 2.5 hrs. I thought since we had to select so many options that we would just get a ‘tappas’ version of that dish but instead we got 3 entrees, 3 mains and 3 desserts all at the quantity that would be served during a function. Needless to say I was stupidly stuffed after that tasting and if I had worn pants, I probably would have unbutton them on the drive home.
Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the food and even though we hadn’t tasted any other venues, it was easy to see that we wouldn’t consider having our wedding at the National Portrait Gallery with the Trippas White Group.
Potential wedding venue: The National Portrait Gallery
Caterer: Trippas White Group
Time of tasting: 1pm
Price of tasting: $75.00 pp. this cost would be deducted from our bill if we chose to book our wedding at this venue.