Disclosure: I attended and dined courtesy of Cecconi and AMPR.
I suppose we’re officially in winter now, aren’t we? Well, let’s pretend that we’re still in autumn (I’d like to pretend that we’re not in winter anyway) as the other month I was invited to Cecconi’s for an autumn menu tasting.
Cecconi’s has been in the city for quite a long time now: apparently almost a decade, so it’s terrible that this was my first visit to the Flinders Lane location. I actually remember the Cecconi’s that was at Crown, quite a long time ago now – Alastair and I ate there with Annette and Terry not long after we moved to Melbourne.
They must be doing something right to have been around the Melbourne dining scene for so long and I was excited to finally pay them a visit.
The restaurant is located in a basement off Flinders Lane, and walking down the stairs was a surprise. Inside, it’s larger than you can see from the street, and split into two sections, with an open kitchen in the middle. It’s decorated in neutral colours and is all very quietly classy.
We started with a drink and then it was time for food. Note that these were all tasting portions (thank goodness, otherwise we would’ve been completely stuffed) and don’t reflect the proper size of the actual dishes.
Before we begin, I need to make mention of the bread. It was delicious, and even though I knew there were nine courses coming up I still ate one (or two) pieces.
Caramelised scallops, crispy pork belly, shaved fennel, blood orange dressing
We were off to a good start with the first course. The scallops were sweet and meaty, and the pork belly was cooked brillantly – tender but with crunchy, salty crackling. The fennel and blood orange helped cut through some of the fatty richness.
Seared tuna salad, kipflers, green beans, parmesan cream
This was one of my favourites of the night – the tuna was served still a lovely shade of pink, just seared around the edges, and the kipfler potatoes had some nice crisp edges and the aroma of truffle and parmesan.
Potato gnocchi, blue swimmer crab meat, bisque, cherry tomatoes, chives
Now I know potato gnocchi is different, but ever since I’ve been making the ricotta gnocchi, I hold all other gnocchis to a higher standard. This dish was good – it had some good flavours from the crab meat, and the potato gnocchi wasn’t bad, I still prefer the gnocchi I make.
Beetroot salad, burrata, candy beets, spiced hazelnuts
LOOK AT THIS. It was both beautiful and incredible. The cheese was very creamy, which contrasted really well with the tangy beetroots and sweet spiced hazelnuts.
This is probably something I wouldn’t normally order based on the description and I was really blown away by how good it was.
Autumn mushroom risotto, taleggio, fried sage
Oh man, oh man, this was delicious too. Very earthy and mushroomy, the risotto was great and not gluggy, and the taleggio was the perfect topping.
John Dory, black mussels, saffron and smoked cod broth
Sadly this course suffered from coming after the beetroot and risotto. It was fine but couldn’t outshine the ones that came before it.
Roasted duck breast, confit leg, brussel sprouts, bacon, chestnut spaetzle
And finally, the last savoury course. The duck and chestnut spaetzle at the bottom reminded me of san choi bao for some odd reason. I did really like the chestnut spaetzle, which had a lovely nutty flavour and the confit leg surrounding it.
Lemon yoghurt cream, cassis jam, crispy meringue, vanilla sugar
We finished with two desserts. The first was a lemon yoghurt cream served in a jar – seemingly simple, light, not too fancy, but on point.
Giandjua cheesecake, hazelnut nougat, oreo crumbs, chocolate sorbet
The second dessert was definitely one for chocolate lovers – a chocolate cheesecake with dark fruity notes, a very rich sorbet, and popping candy scattered around it. I always love popping candy in desserts.
Dinner was truly very good and I was quite impressed. They were all well presented, each individual component went well together flavourwise and texturally, and there were several stand outs on the night. Now I can see why Cecconi’s has been around for so long, they deserve it.
61 Flinders Lane
Phone: 03 8663 0500