15 Glenferrie Road
Malvern VIC 3144
Phone (03) 9500 0665
A work mate had suggested Maris as a place I should try. So, I decided to give it a try. It's a fine dining restaurant on Glenferrie road just off Prince Highway. It seems a bit out of place on that end of Glenferrie road but we turned up to find a packed restaurant with most of the customers dressed nicely in their smart casual wear. I was wearing my Hawks polo. Compare and constrast.
The restaurant has a very cosy feel, as it is narrow and long in length. The interior decor consists of electic art such as wooden toys, tapestry and legs of ham hanging in the window. I liked it all and felt really comfortable.
We were seated, the wine was poured, and then we waited, and waited. Finally, after about 10 minutes, we waved a waiter down and asked for the menu. Here is Sey Veng, Jo and I waiting for the menu and snapping some photos.
Before the entrees, we received some deliciously warm bread served in a cute straw basket shaped like a chicken. Offers for more bread were accepted but quickly forgotten and we never received more bread.
An amuse bouche started the meal. But again, this was a while ago and I've since forgotten what it was completely. I only remember that it was good and did indeed cleanse the palate.
The first entree to share was a Prawn and Calamari dish with pasta with tomato, rocket and native lime foam. This contrast with the tanginess of the lime worked well with the seafood. I really liked this dish.
The second entree was Grilled Quail with barley, soft duck egg and shimeji mushroom. The creaminess of the duck egg enveloped the quail meat and gave it a beautiful silky feel. I wasn't completely sold on the barley.
For mains, Jo got the Yellow Tail Kingfish with crispy Spanish ham, baby leeks, almond and mushrooms. It definitely looked spectacular with the foam and flower petals, but the taste was all a bit strange and didn't work.
Kin got the King George Whiting with braised rice with chorizo and cuttlefish and mussel sauce. The whiting were cooked to perfection and beautiful. But again, the accompanying flavours didn't work well with the fish.
Sey Veng got the Slow Cooked Beef with Swiss chard, olive oil and Parmesan. This dish really worked with the beef so soft and falling apart. The simpler accompany flavours helped compliment the beef instead of overpowering it.
The best mains would be the Free Range Suckling Pig with smokey potato cream and pickled vegetables that I chose. The skin on the pig was crisp without being chewy. The meat was tender and gelatinous in places. The accompanying potato was great with the pork. The pickled vegetables provided the occasional sour contrast. A great dish overall.
Between mains, we waited for them to ask us about desserts. Twenty minutes later and still nothing. We were happy to sit there and talk, but not a single waiter walked over to ask us if we wanted desserts. The waiter who cleared the table didn't ask, our waitress for the night didn't ask, nothing. Finally we asked for the dessert menu, twice.
Before desserts, we got another palate cleanser, which I would have happily had as dessert. It was a Peach Ice Cream with Passionfruit Curd and Passionfruit Pulp. It would seriously have to be one of the best sweet offerings I've had all year. The flavours and textures just worked so amazingly well, and it was only suppose to be a palate cleanser.
Hence, my expectations for dessert was extremely high, and it did not disappoint. The trio of desserts we shared definitely has been the best offering from any restaurant this year so far.
So firstly, there was the Vin Santo Pannacotta with macerated figs and apricots with almond biscuit and ice cream. The texture of the pannacotta was a nice soft smooth feel, with a hint of the wine. The figs and apricots gave the occasional fruity bite, and the ice cream complemented with pannacotta. A fantastic dish.
The Quince and Amaretti Crumble with Moscato jelly, peach ice cream and vanilla was another triumph. Quince crumbles are always good, but this one was amazingly good. The amaretti crumble already lifts the quince, but when you ate it all with the moscato jelly and peach ice cream, the contrast in textures, heat and flavours makes it a near perfect dessert.
Lastly, the Valrhona Chocolate Roll with chocolate ice cream, rum soaked prunes and bitter sweet orange again had me going mmmmm a lot. You can't go too wrong with chocolate, but the rum in the prunes again gave it another dimension. And then to contrast it with the rather bitter orange, genius I say.
Well, how to sum up. It was such a mix bag. I love the ambience and that nice cosy feel. The service was rather shocking. The wait staff looked really confused and were running all over the place. There didn't seem to be a head waiter controlling things.
As for the food, on the whole it was really good. Apart from a couple of the fish mains, everything else was excellent. The desserts were a clear standout for me, but I am more partial to sweet foods. I would go back anyday of the week to eat the suckling pig and desserts again. I would forgive the service as well just because the food was so damn good. This place could easily be a two hat restaurant if only the service was better.
Price wise, the cost is very fair I believe. Mains are around the $30 mark and entrees and desserts between $15 - $18.
Overall Rating: 16/20, Food was spectacular, but service let things down.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.