Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ezard at Adelphi, Melbourne

Eating out:
As much as our blog focuses on the foods of sunny Brisbane and it's surrounds, Bev and I do travel around once in a while. This is our first post on a restaurant outside of Brisbane/Queensland.

I was in Melbourne for a few days last year, during the Christmas season. There, I met up with my cousin, Becky whom I hadn't caught up with for a couple of years. Seems like she's doing pretty well for herself, seeing that she was recently appointed a senior position at work. So in light of the joyous occasion, we decided to dine at Ezard at Adelphi.

Ezard's a pretty well known Melbournian restaurant, always staying at the forefront of the dining scene. Teage Ezard, the chef, had just recently released his second cookbook, Lotus: Asian Flavours, which was quite a hit with foodies and critics alike.

Given that it was a weekday and we hadn't made any reservations, we were rather fortunate that they managed to fit the two of us in.

The restaurant was dimly lit, but I managed to take some decent pictures of the food. So here's what we ordered:

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Blue swimmer crab tortellini with verjuice and citrus butter sauce, crispy leeks and Yarra Valley salmon eggs.

This dish was a winner right from the first bite. No wonder foodies and critics rave about this restaurant. This could possibly be THE best tortellini that I have ever put in my mouth! The skin of the tortellini was silky and soft, unlike any other that I've eaten; encased within them were generous pillows of lusciously fluffy crab meat. The sauce was well composed in it's flavours and the salmon roe added explosive bursts of saltiness to every mouthful. The petite salad of fried leeks and micro-herbs that crowned the tortellini contributed an additional textural dimension to the already refined dish. I can't believe I'm still raving about it till today. Flawless, absolutely flawless.

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Beer battered zucchini floweres stuffed with herbed ricotta, panzanella, and herb oil.

This was Becky's dish. The batter was light and crispy, not cloyingly oily as most beer batters are infamous for (thanks to many a fish n chip shop). The olive oil used in dressing the panzanella (bread salad), I believe, was evidently of premium quality, displaying unadulterated fruity tones. The panzanella had just the appropriate amount of acidity to cut through the richness of the fried batter. Another very well conceived dish.

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Crispy fried pork hock with chilli caramel, spicy thai salad and jasmine rice.

Possibly one of the most photographed and replicated dishes in the food scene today. Every other local restaurant seems to feature such a dish. I cannot safely say who was the first to innovate or recreate this dish in Australia, but I can certainly bet that Teage Ezard's version was one of the first; even till today, many people still see his as the 'original' chilli caramel pork hock. Would appreciate it if anyone who knew better could leave a comment to differ.

Well, back to the dish. I liked the duo of textures; meltingly soft on the inside, crispy and sticky on the outside. However, the whole dish was drowned in a sauce so ridiculously sweet that every mouthful tasted exactly the same as the last. In this case, even the pungent Thai herbs and beansprouts couldn't save the sauce from overpowering everything else. The rice which was served separately in a small rice bowl was rather hard to tackle, especially so given that I was only armed with a fork and knife.

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Wagyu rump braised in Asian masterstock with Crispy shoe-string taro chips and jasmine rice.

The beef was very well braised and tasted every bit like what it should have tasted. The taro chips were indeed very crispy and obviously freshly fried to order. I really like their integrity with using the word 'crispy' unlike some other restaurants I've been to. The big let down however, was the addition of pak choy to the dish. Isn't pak choy soooo passe by now? It really gets to me when I have to endure with such pieces of oh-so-overdone ingredients in restaurants. Could someone please kindly add pak choy to that list of dreadfully misrepresented 'Asian' ingredients which currently consists of wasabi, nori, mango, sticky soy (excuse me, I believe it's called Kecap Manis?), sweet chilli, chilli jam and the likes?

Anyway, besides those few hiccups, Ezard @ Adelphi is still a restaurant very much worth visiting in Melbourne. Do remember to make a reservation though, as they are fully booked on most evenings. And finally, may I insist that if the tortellini dish is still on the menu, go for it- it's jaw-droppingly good.

Ezard at The Adelphi
187 Flinders Lane
Tel: (03) 9639 6811

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