Sunday, October 26, 2014

Estelle Bar & Kitchen, Northcote

"Where should we go in the weekend, son? Can we go somewhere that serves truffles? I'd really love to try some," says Mum.

I was more than happy to spoil her Mum when she made this request one Thursday evening when she was here for a visit in September. To be honest, Mum and Dad have dedicated their entire lives to give my brother, sister and I the very best opportunities in life and the tools to achieve all our goals. Now that I am working, I especially love it when they make requests like these because all I want to do is shower them as much as I can because they deserve every bit of it.

It was a bit tricky to find a restaurant that still served truffles at first as truffle season was pretty much over at the time. After ringing around, I was happy to find that The Estelle still served truffles at the time. Great. I've heard so much about the food there so I was glad to use the opportunity to try too.

Off we went one fine Saturday afternoon for lunch. As soon as we sat down and were shown the menu, the waitress asked if we would like some prosecco to start. Umm... YES!!! I thought they'd never ask... What better way to kick start the meal.

We both went for the 5 course for $80 meal option, which I thought was pretty great value to be honest as most fine dining places would charge 3 course for the same price. However, mum opted to add the manjimup truffle for $25 whilst I decided to swap one of my courses with the kangaroo island marron for an extra $20.

Soon after the head FOH guy saw me with my camera, he asked whether or not I was a blogger (a question that still, to this day, makes me feel squirmish to the core). I feel incredibly uncomfortable with any form of attention, even on my birthday. I told him yes as I confessed in slight embarrassment to which he jokingly replied, "well, you've got everyone in their best behaviour now".

The walkway to the newly renovated courtyard dining area. Love the hanging plants

This covered seating area at the back is just stunning. I can imagine how amazing it would be to dine here at night too, just beautiful...

Complimentary Starter:

Veal crackling with caramelised onion foam, mille feuille with olive tapenade with roasted capsicum gel, chickpea soldiers with smoky powder

This was a superb start to the meal. So much better than getting your standard bread basket!! Each starter was interesting and tasty, definitely built a level of excitement for the meal to come. 

Course 1:

Celeriac in burnt hay ash on a bed of whipped Persian cheese, celery and radish salad, burnt chive oil

The texture of the celeriac was lovely. It was soft and collapsed in your mouth but held together by the creaminess of the cheese. There was a zing from the salad and the oil was fragrant. A nice, light and fitting dish for the start of the meal.

Course 2 (a):

Poached marron, Tassie mussels, broad beans and sea microherb, cauliflower puree, dashi stock, pickled cucumber

Everything on the plate was so delicately sweet and subtle. There were a number of flavours going on in the dish, but none of them overpowering but worked silently in harmony with one another. The unctuous dashi was definitely addictive and had a great earthy balance.

Course 2 (b):

Pickled spanner crab, parsnip custard, parsnip chips, avocado and lime, seaweed and tapioca wafer

This dish was simply fantastic. It had all the elements of the sea with notes of sweetness, sourness and saltiness in each mouthful. Such magnificence and beauty on a plate too. Mum and I were just in awe by the presentation and flavours of this dish. So beautiful.

Course 3:

Smoked hen's egg, toasted spaetzle, toasted corn, freeze dried corn, puffed rice, creamed corn broth, iberico ham

It was nice of Head Chef Josh Pelham to come to personally bring this dish out to us, Mum and I couldn't wait for him to reveal what he had under the glass bowl. The dish was bang full of flavour from the first bite. Rich corn and toasted flavour throughout with a nice chewy texture from the spatzel. 

Recommended Italian wine to go with the next pork course... Amazing

Just before we were served our next course, we were asked if we wanted to try this wine as we were told that it would go really well with the dish we were about to eat. So nice of them!

Course 4:

Crispy pork jowl, mustard jus, red cabbage puree, pickled and buttered kohlrabi

Can I just say that this dish was AMAZING! I honestly cannot stand the description "melt in your mouth" but this was exactly what happened when we put the meat in our mouths. The crackling was fantastic too. Thick but felt super thing and crisp with a slight charred flavour to it too. The puree was so velvety and smooth too that it was almost gleaming on the plate. Mum and I were still talking about this dish later that night. As for the wine, it was robust in fragrance but light in flavour, definitely went down a treat with the wine. Loved it.

Course 5 (a): 

12 hour braised Wagyu cheek, red wine jus, dried and shaved bone marrow, king mushroom and truffles

I only had a bite of Mum's dish and found the flavour profile to be very layered and complex, but in a good way. It had lots of similar tones which complemented the wagyu well.

Course 5 (b):

Venison with venison jus, homemade venison sausage, charred pear, creamed onion, cherry and blood sausage jelly

I enjoyed this dish very much too. The venison was tender as it can be and I admired the way they cooked it. The meat was also a great vessel to showcase all the other ingredients on the plate too like the rich blood jelly, creamy onion, salty jus, cherry jelly. Best part was how the sweet, smokey pear finished and completed the dish. So delicious.

Course 6 (a):

Yogurt parfait, jellied frozen and dried rhubarb, mandarin

Because I don't have a sweet tooth, I always prefer for my desserts or cocktails to be more sour than sweet, which this was. The tartness definitely livened our senses but was softened afterwards by the jelly and delicious parfait.

Course 6 (b):

Charred pineapple in caramel, apple cucumber sorbet, white chocolate mousse and green tea crumb

Again, Head Chef John was nice enough to come out of the kitchen to serve and introduce this dish to us too. The caramelised pineapple had a dark note but counter balanced with the slightly sour and refreshing sorbet and also the creaminess of the white chocolate. 

Complimentary petit fours:

Currant marshmallow, hibiscus jelly, raspberry and balsamic chocolate

Complimentary recipe card as a sneak peek to Scott Pickett's upcoming cookbook...

Suffice to say that by the end of this dish, Mum and I were sooooo full but happy from the meal as were truly found it to be an incredible dining experience from start to finish. We've had our fair share of fine dining experiences in the past but must say that this meal at The Estelle is hands down our favourite yet. We later found out that Chef Josh Pelham was recently awarded "Best Young Chef of the Year 2015" by The Age Good Food Guide. Impressive! I'm happy for his recognition as I thought it was a very well deserved accolade.

Overall, I thought that the menu was clearly designed by someone who had an immense understanding of food and flavours, as it really showed in each dish. I also liked how they didn't reveal the entire menu to the diners at the start of the meal, keeping us on our toes as we had no idea what to expect but knew we were in great hands. It was almost like an ethereal dream of a dining experience as we almost felt transported by each dish.

Besides the execution of the food, I just thought the meal was just amazing value for money. Again, 5 courses for $80 and it kinda looked like we had more than that too. Most places would already charge 3 course for $80 and nowhere close to getting this sort of quality and creativity. Mum and I chose to come for lunch and I would definitely recommend it too. The places was not busy at all and you get to dine at a very relaxed pace and environment. They typically focus more on dinners but because the entire team is there during the day to prepare all the food for the evening anyway, they decided to open up the restaurant to public too. 

I'm glad to have tried The Estelle and would highly recommend people coming here to try, especially if they're looking for a place to go for a special occasion without breaking the bank too much. Great meal overall.

Estelle Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

No comments :

Post a Comment