Melbourne 3000, VIC
Ph: (03) 9639 6811
Ezard has been an institution of Melbourne dining for many years now. Despite very little press on its head chef Teague Ezard, the restaurant has a constant stream of admirers both in the media and amongst food bloggers. I was excited to finally go and find out more about Ezard’s Asian influenced dishes when Ling organised a dinner there for her aunt’s birthday.
As it was a late-ish booking, about two weeks away (top Melbourne restaurants are just so popular now and so hard to get in), we could only score a pre-theatre booking. That means you have to vacate the table by 8pm, and this was reminded to us when we sat down, although the staff were pre-empting that we would stay over our allotted time and told us we have to vacate by 7:30pm.
The restaurant is very beautifully laid out, with a big full length bar along one side and tables set out in quite a regimented fashion on the other side. We scored a table with one side of booth seating. As I was about to comment that I liked the lights, they were all turned off. My biggest hate at restaurants is dark dark rooms. Nowhere is this appropriate in my opinion. Even for romantic mood lighting, you need adequate lighting to read a menu. If you can’t see a menu without switching on your iPhone flashlight app, that’s a fail in my view. The dark lighting did not put me in the best of moods. Combined with my headache, I don’t know if I got to experience the full Ezard effect. I would say that I still enjoyed the experience, but maybe not as much as others have. I must go back to reassess it.
We decided to order a la carte instead of the pre-theatre menu. Three of us, including myself, all went with a quartet of the famous Ezard Oyster Shooters for entrée. Ling’s aunt decided on the Open Wagyu Beef Burger with quail egg, onion jam, cresses, smoked tomato and truffle oil mayonnaise. The oysters were definitely delicious, slipping down the throat with a silky smoothness accompanied with soy and mirin jelly. The Wagyu Burger looked sensation, stacked to a gravity defying height. I was amazed how the waitress managed to bring it to the table in one piece. I managed to get a photo before London Bridge came tumbling down. I’m sure it didn’t affect the taste, but seeing it as a lump on the plate was a less appetising sight, again proving that we feast partially from the eyes. Ling’s aunt said the burger was good.
Above: Amuse Bouche
Left:Open Wagyu Beef Burger with quail egg, onion jam, cresses, smoked tomato and truffle oil mayonnaise.
Right: Oyster Shooters
For mains, I went for the Roast Duck with green chilli and shallot sauce, stir fried garlic shoots, silkmelon and coconut rice, another Ezard “classic”. Ling and one of her aunts went for the Roasted Coral Trout with moreton bay bug ravioli and spicy coconut laksa, while the birthday lady went for Pan Fried Local John Dory with seared scallop, roasted jerusalem artichoke, broad beans, caviar and chive oil. My Roast Duck was sensational. I thought I had tasted enough Chinese roast duck to not be surprised anymore, but here was a dish that was familiar, yet different. The duck meat was so tender and the combination of flavours with the chilli really worked for me. I love that kick in the roast duck, why hasn’t any Chinese restaurant combined those two flavours as they are standard Chinese flavours. I also really liked the silkmelon, with the coconut just tying the whole dish together. If there was a small note, I did find it a tad salty. Ling and her aunt both liked their Coral Trout, especially the coconut laksa part, where they were drinking up the sauce. Finally, Ling’s other aunt also liked the John Dory, with the fish tasting fresh and matched well with the other ingredients.
Above: Roast Duck with green chilli and shallot sauce, stir fried garlic shoots, silkmelon and coconut rice.
Left: Pan Fried Local John Dory with seared scallop, roasted jerusalem artichoke, broad beans, caviar and chive oil.
Right: Roasted Coral Trout with moreton bay bug ravioli and spicy coconut laksa.
For desserts, I decided to have the Caramel Parfait, salted popcorn, confit apple and passionfruit sauce, after tasting the most sublime Salted Caramel Parfait with Caramelised Popcorn the week before at The Point. Unfortunately, it may have been due to feeling quite unwell by this stage, but I didn’t like most of the desserts. In fact, I’d go as far as saying I disliked some of them. My Caramel Parfait was rock hard, and didn’t really taste of much. The centre contained chocolate, but again, I didn’t really find the flavours that good. Then when I tried it with the popcorn, it made it worse. The popcorn was super salty, and tasted bad with the parfait. Unlike the dessert at The Point, where the popcorn was covered in a beautiful caramel crunch and gave a hint of saltiness when eaten with the other elements, making a magical combination, I wasn’t getting those same results with this dish.
Ling and her aunts went for the dessert tasting plate to share, which consisted of all the dessersts. What I did thoroughly enjoy was the Ezard classic dessert of Five Spice Honeycrunch Ice Cream. That pairing with the toasted gingerbread and delicate sugar swirl sculpture was perfect, giving many distinctive notes around the tongue. The rest of the tasting plate, I wasn’t particularly fond of. I thought the Chocolate Tart was all wrong, with way too many things going on that confused my palate. I like quince, a lot, but didn’t like it with the pannacotta strangely. Finally, the Pistachio Frangipane was quite good, but didn’t work with all the flavours combined. As I said, I was feeling less well by this point, so must go back to taste again to be sure.
Clockwise from Ice Cream: Five spiced honeycrunch ice cream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl.
Five spice pannacotta, poached quince, palm sugar syrup and vanilla fairy floss.
Pistachio frangipane, lemongrass glazed pineapple, fromage frais sorbet, sesame wafers and saffron syrup.
Caramel parfait, salted popcorn, confit apple and passionfruit sauce.
Warm chocolate tart, raspberry chilli caramel, mint sorbet and chocolate croquant. Mascarpone and frangelico mille feuille, pressed paw paw, vanilla ice cream and almond crumble.
The service throughout the meal was really good, with the staff sounding knowledgeable and our three different waiter/waitresses being very friendly and likeable. However, one small note was that since it was Ling’s aunts birthday and she wanted to send a photo to her other niece, the gentleman at the next table offered to help us take a group photo. Since the restaurant is so dark, I set the camera to have the flash on since he had to be quite far away and even my low F1.8 lens couldn’t handle no external lighting. He took one photo and gave me back the camera, in which time a staff wearing a suit walked over to me and told me that they don’t allow flash photography in the restaurant as it disturbs other patrons. I wasn’t upset, but more perplexed. Surely the other patrons around us could handle one flash photo for the sake of an old lady’s birthday. Besides that small incident, the ambience in the room was quite good. As the night wore on and more and more patrons occupied the space, it did fill out better and there was a small buzz.
Overall, I would say that I still liked the meal, but a few aspects (such as dark lighting, desserts not mind blowingly good and the camera incident) made it a good meal but not a great meal. I’ll definitely be going back to assess it again as I’ve heard such great things about it.
Overall Rating: 15/20, Some delicious items but some that failed to delight. Must go back to reassess.
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.