74 Glen Eira Road
Ripponlea 3185 Victoria
Ph: (03) 9530 0111
For a work dinner, I suggested that we go to Attica. Much has been said and written about Attica of late. I guess when you're doing such innovative and delicious food such as what Ben Shewry is doing, word will get around. Before going to the dinner, I did my research. Firstly, I read the article in The Age. That had me salivating already and my expectations were extremely high. Obviously, I looked up blogs as well to get some more views. You can read about Attica at Melbourne Foodie, Eating Melbourne, Melbourne Gastronome, Taste Buds Galore, Tomato and Doublecooked just to name a few.
Since we had a booking of more than 8, we had to do the degustation or a parred down menu with fewer options. I don't like being forced to do the degustation or a reduced menu for a large group booking but I guess it's fair enough since it is extremely hard to coordinate so many dishes all at once. We chose to go with the reduced menu, which had three options in each category as opposed to six. Thankfully, all the dishes I wanted to try were in the reduced menu.
Not wanting to be late, we left work promptly and got there a bit early. So we walked the street to waste a bit of time and stood around waiting. Jordan, Hien and Esther happened to be standing around and I snapped a photo of them. All dressed in black, they looked like a three piece blues band posing for an album cover.
Here is the work team mid dinner, waiting for dessert.
The amuse bouche consisted of spring garlic that the staff had picked themselves from somewhere around the restaurant. The appetisers consisted of olives, organic almonds, salsa and house made butter. Seriously, I think this is the best butter I've tasted at any restaurant around Melbourne.
Jordan and I agreed to share our dishes so that we could taste more of the food. The first entree was "Snow crab". I didn't try this, but was told it was very nice.
Jordan got the "A simple dish of potato cooked in the earth it was grown". The whole menu is written in such simple terms, a change from the usual complex menus that are seen around other top Melbourne restaurants. The wait staff do explain the dish when it arrives, such is the modern fashion that one must know every single ingredient in a dish and how it was cooked. This dish consisted of a potato that was cooked for 8 hours. I thought the potato did taste good, and did indeed have an earthy flavour. The texture too was very nice, with the accompaniments enhancing it. However, unlike The Age article, I wasn't totally rapturous. It tasted like a well boiled potato at the end of the day.
I got the "Smoked trout broth, crackling, basil seeds, fresh smoke". Indeed there was smoke, which was displayed at the table by the waitress. Then, the broth was poured over the dish, and you got a visual, aural and olfactory sensation, all preparing the brain for the oral sensation to come. And it was a sensation to behold. I can see why this was named dish of the year. The broth was so clear in flavour and just infused the trout. The pork crackling really works in the dish as well.
For mains, there was "Kingfish, squid, almond". The dish looks so simple, and according to the others, it tasted really good.
The "Pork loin, morcilla, wild fennel pollen" was a lovely dish. I really liked the way the pork was cooked. Usually I'm not a fan of pork, but this was moist and tender. The black pudding was quite strong in flavour but I liked it. The apple sauce helped cut the flavours.
I got the "Lamb, spice, date, walnut". The lamb was done two ways, a roast medallion of lamb, which was good, and a confit of lamb with Morroccan spices, which was excellent. The date sauce again helped cut the spiciness of the spices.
So far, the meal had been good. But you all know I love desserts, and was awaiting the Terroir that I had read so much about. A quarter of the table went for the "Aged buffalo milk cheese, distilled red wine, walnut", which they thought was quite strange.
Another quarter went for the special, which was a Peach dessert. My memory fails me so I don't know what else was in it.
Half the table though, went for the "Terroir", which was mind blowingly good. The mixture of sweet and savoury and the texture combos really get your mind searching to try and pinpoint the flavours. There was beetroot, limes, berries sitting above some creme fraiche. I liked the chewy bits of fruit mixed with crunchy bits of something and the occasional savoury tones. I like to echo others by saying that this should have won The Good Food Guide dish of the year.
Service was what you would expect at a top restaurant, excellent. The service staff were efficient and also relaxed. They were slightly less attentive than the Vue de Monde staff, who I still rank as number one in Melbourne.
The ambience in the restaurant is very good. Surprisingly, it was a lot noiser than I thought it would be. The decor is very relaxing and the room is divided up nicely so that you don't feel like you have no space, but neither do you feel like you're isolated.
OVerall, the food was excellent, but lacked that extra little wow factor on some dishes that would make this a perfect dining experience. However, it is still right up there in regards to dining locations in Melbourne.
Overall Rating: 18/20, Excellent food and service. The Terroir is a must try.
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.