When my FIL visited over Christmas, one of the few things he requested to do was a degustation.
I mean – we could’ve taken him to see the Melbourne sights: the beautiful Yarra River as it glints brownly in the sun, the finger biting excitement of a hook turn in the city, the half finished Docklands wheel overlooking Costco and the cargo ports ** – but having a nice meal sounded much more fun to me.
(**I say all this in jest! I do love Melbourne, really.)
So we booked in dinner at the Estelle. You may remember that Alastair and I had lunch there in mid-2012.
So if you’re familiar with Estelle, you’ll know that there’s no a la carte menu. Instead, you select however many courses you’d like to eat.
For dinner, the options are:
5 courses $70 per person, classic wine matching $45, adventurous wine matching $55.
7 courses $90 per person, classic wine matching $55, adventurous wine matching $70.
9 courses $110 per person, classic wine matching $65, adventurous wine matching $80.
We decided to go for nine courses (may as well do these things properly, right?) and I choose the adventurous wine matching, while my FIL had the classic match.
We started with a trio of snacks:
Jerusalem artichoke with Persian feta
Fake chicken skin with yoghurt
All good and interesting, and a nice start to the meal. I do wonder what the fake chicken skin was made from. It did seem just like chicken skin.
The first course was a cured salmon gazpacho. Underneath the foam there were cubes of cured salmon and cucumber that had been treated with Hendricks gin. I’m in two minds about this dish – I’m not sure about the foam, and the cucumber was quite bitter with the gin treatment, but the gazpacho was strongly flavoured with onion, garlic and paprika and quite delicious.
The next course was one of my favourites. Two beautifully juicy and sweet scallops with a miso beurre blanc, topped with salmon roe and seaweed.
Crab mornay was our third course, and this is one I’d eaten before. The last time, I thought that the curry was too overpowering for the crab, but this time it was much improved and the spice seemed to have been pulled back. This dish has the crab meat and shredded carrot in a creamy sauce, with a lingering spiciness and just a touch of curry. Really nice.
It ended up being quite a seafood themed meal (which I heartily approved of) and our fourth course was Morton Bay Bugs. It was served with a smear of squid ink mayo, dill and pickled red cabbage and was very enjoyable – sweet, salty, sour, and creamy in one hit.
And our final seafood dish was cooked snapper with green red pepper, onion, pea puree and kombu shavings. Very Asian inspired. I liked the crunchy vegetables though mostly ate around the pea puree (you all know my disdain for peas by now).
Moving on from seafood, our sixth course was pork jowl served with caramelised cauliflower and date puree.
What can I say? Swoon.
And our last savoury course was an amazing lamb trio – cutlets, a lamb roll, and sweetbreads. This came with nettle puree and sweet and young spring onions.
We then moved into desserts.
Our first dessert was one that I had really enjoyed previously – salted caramel, olive oil sponge, frozen sour cream and pepitas. I loved it at lunch and I loved it again. Something about it just totally appeals to me.
And the second dessert was a chocolate soil with smoked chocolate ice cream, cherries, chocolate twigs, honeycomb crackers.
We finished with a cleanser – little glasses filled with berry mascarpone and berry compote – very jammy with a slight rose flavour.
I was really quite impressed by this meal. While I had enjoyed lunch there several months before, I hadn’t loved it, but dinner was really quite exceptional. It was spot on, delicious and interesting, plus I really liked the drink matches. The adventorous drink matches wasn’t all wine – I had a couple of simple cocktails and a glass of amaretto plus wine.
The Estelle is amazing value for what you get. Highly recommended.
Read about our previous visit to Estelle here.
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Estelle Bar & Kitchen
243 High Street
Phone: 03 9489 4609