Monday, March 21, 2011

Ezard & Margaret Xu

Man, I so wanted to love this dinner. I so so wanted to love this dinner. Margaret Xu does everything I love, the notion of farm to plate, of slow food and of doing things from scratch. This is how I roll. I repeat, I so so wanted to love this dinner.

But I didn't love it. 

The dinner was part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and for a 6 course tasting menu with matched wines was held at Ezard for $295pax (so it wasn't a budget experience).

The menu was basically:

1. Tofu Blue Water
2. Sung Dynasty Crab
3. Hong Kong Style Sampan Custard
4. Fish on Heat
5. Red Hot
6. Men are Red and Women Are Green

The first dish was tofu, made from scratch (with nigari as opposed to gymsum) with red cabbage and mussel(s). The dish was served san "blue water", with it being poured at the table by the wait staff. The two layer tofu having had an incredible subtle flavour but the blue water was a bit over powering given the subtleness of the tofu.

Next was the sung dynasty crab. It was a served as a carved orange with swimmer crab meat, with shaosing wine, ginger, black vinegar and limoncello. Nice delicate flavour, sweetness well matched with a citrus undertone. The wine that went with thios dish, the 2008 rippon gerwurztraminer from central otago NZ, was unbelievably amazing - UNBELIEVABLY amazing. 
Third  was the hong kong style sampan custard which was particularly good, with ultra soft custard which was explained to us that there was a higher % of consomme in the mix to give it the ethereal texture.Similar to a brilliant chawanmushi.

However, you will note, the servings at this stage as still very much in bite sized.
Fish on Heat - the fish was great but we were slightly disappointed with the overall composition - "crispy glass noodles" that were incredibly hard to eat and "organic vegetables" which was really - just a piece of daikon (just one). With the abundance of produce available in Melbourne, including organic and biodynamic produce, it was just disappointing. The fish however, was amazinging cooked and flavoured.

The hero of the night, was the roasted pig with homemade cumquat marmalade and braised bok choy. The crispy pork was excellent with the deep citrus flavour of the cumquat marmalade being perfectly balanced. I loved it (even the white rice, and I rarely eat white rice). The bok choy was...however, a bit of an odd match. It was a whole bok choy...seriously a whole one.

The final dish was perhaps the biggest disappointment, and looking at the table next to us, was also a disappointment to them too. The red and green bean yokan way too bland, and flavourless. The ice cream however, was...bitter. This was a major let down, but perhaps it is the style of cooking that I am not used to. I don't want to be too critical, but I just didn't like this at all.

I was hoping the dinner would be a memorable experience, but for the price point, and the servings, and perhaps even the style, it didn't feel like it was that memorable. The wines however, were brilliant - but I did get a little drunk and had to lay in my car for a bit...just to "recover". It was indeed, a shame.

Having said all that, I would still totally eat at Margaret Xu's Yin Yang when I'm in Hong Kong (if I could even get reservations!) - because what she stands far outweighs a single isolated experience.

Ezard, the restaurant, however, is a brilliant occasion restaurant. Prior to this dinner, I had eaten at Ezard on several occasions, including their degustation, (albeit, quite some time ago!) so to compensate for the other poor photos, below is a picture for your enjoyment from my last visit. A real freaken dessert plate. This is for you, my friends!

Ezard @ the Adelphi, 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Ezard on Urbanspoon

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