So Attica must be one of Melbourne’s most famous and awarded restaurants. And I finally made it there thanks to Kat, who booked us into dinner for their Tuesday night Chef’s Table.
Run by Chef Ben Shewry, Attica has consistently been recognised as one of Melbourne’s – and Australia’s – top restaurants. Located on a quiet street in Ripponlea (at least, on a Tuesday night), the restaurant inside is quite understated: white linen tablecloths, black walls, and bright spotlights over each table.
Tuesday night is the night where they offer a 5 course degustation ($95) that consists of new dishes that they’re developing.
To start the meal off we were offered some lovely bread – rye sourdough flavoured with wattleseed. It came with olive oil emulsion topped with smoked salt, and cultured butter for spreading. Bread refills were offered through the meal, but I managed to limit myself to two pieces. Unlike Josh, who probably ate a whole loaf.
The first course was snow crab served with toasted buckwheat, torn sorrel and a smoked cold chicken broth. This was a lovely, lovely dish. Very understated and subtle, but it really let the flavour and sweetness of the snow crab shine, with just a touch of crunchy nuttiness from the buckwheat.
Next we had cauliflower cheese with 11 basils and smoked eel.
Underneath the rich and creamy cheese sauce were cubes of smoked eel and tiny chopped up bits of cauliflower. I would love a big bowl of this in the middle of winter.
As for the 11 basils, I’m not 100% sure what that means. Because I just counted the basil leaves in my bowl and I count 12… Some of the basil leaves seemed different to one another when I was eating it, so there *may* have been 11 different types of basil (plus a stowaway).
The third course was poached marron served with quinoa that had been cooked in cauliflower stock and cured pork fat and mustard leaves. Like the crab, it was a subtle dish and highlighted the quality of the seafood, contrasting with the tangy, nutty quinoa.
I really enjoyed the last savoury course, which was wild wallaby loin. The wallaby was served very rare, and had been glazed in syrup made with wild currants and hibiscus for a bit of sweetness, while the sea wormwood gave a touch of bitterness.
On the side, looking a bit like a forest floor, were dried mushrooms and wild currants, on top of a very savoury, unami packed sauce.
Finally there was dessert, which is exactly the kind of thing that I love. I REALLY loved this: caramelised banana, custard, liquorice leaves topped with kaffir lime powder. The entire dish was perfectly balanced – sweet, creamy, fragrant, salty (yup, just a bit). And the kaffir lime powder was so, so aromatic. It really made the dish.
We finished the meal with chocolate eggs that had been filled with salted caramel.
I have to say that I was slightly surprised by the food – it was much more subtle and pared back than I was expecting. I’m definitely not saying that’s a bad thing – just that my expectations were different (and I don’t know where my expectations even came from).
A regular (non-Tuesday) meal will obviously be different, but even with these test dishes there was a high level of finesse in the food. It wasn’t a meal that “wowed” me, but it was really, really nice and makes me interested to see how the regular degustation compares.
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74 Glen Eira Road
Phone: 03 9530 0111