Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Point - A Near Perfect Dining Experience

Aquatic Drive, Albert Park Lake
Albert Park 3206, Victoria
Ph: (03) 9682 5566
Website: The Point

It's not often that you get a perfect meal. I can say that to date, I would only consider one meal at a restaurant as being perfect, and that was my first meal at Vue de Monde. There have been other meals that have come close, from my second visit to Vue de Monde Part 2, Rockpool, Cutler and Co and Attica. For a perfect meal to occur, not only does the food have to be sensational, but a lot of other elements that cannot be controlled by a restaurant has to align. You need to feel really happy that night, you need to enjoy the company, and just little details like the toilet soap they use needs to please you. Looking back at my own posts, I think I scored Rockpool way too high, and was influenced by the absolutely fantastic service and the Wagyu steak that I overlooked quite a few things. For me though, the gold standard is still Vue de Monde. Even my three Michelin star meal at Pierre Gagnaire didn't match the two meals I had at Vue de Monde.

Recently, I went back to The Point after having visited the first time as a guest of Executive Chef Scott Pickett for the Beast on a Block event that he held for food bloggers. This time, before I went, I made sure I contacted Scott to see if he could arrange the spring lamb dish again. He obliged and said he would try his best to source a spring lamb just for my dining group. I guess having a head chef specifically source an ingredient for you does tend to bias your judgement, but as with all reviews, it's all about what I think anyway and I make no apologies for that.

So a group of 8 of us from work went to The Point for a celebratory team dinner. From the moment that we stepped into the door, I knew it was going to be good as I could sense the excitement amongst everyone already. Maitre d' Frank came and welcomed myself warmly and helped seat everyone. We were offered drinks menus and water while browsing the menu. Scott then came to greet us at the table and explain the Spring Lamb dish. Everyone was sold, with 7 out of 8 people going for that.

I was instantly relaxed from the warm comforting environment, Frank's ease, and the insanely beautiful view of the lake and city. We were first presented an amuse bouche of the most soothing and rich lobster bisque with truffles. It put me into such a comforting mood already. For entrees, there were choices of fish, game consomme with jamon, octopus and the Charcuterie board that a couple of us got. I tried the octopus and that was sensational. Those with the fish entree also loved it. The game consomme I didn't try but my work mate said it was ok, a bit too exotic for him. With my pick, I don't know every element in my Charcuterie board but it is the best I've had in Melbourne. It could be a meal all by itself. There were pates, cured hams, salamis, mousses, pickles, jams, dips and even a quail egg. I just absolutely loved every element on that board, which is a big deal considering how many elements were on that board. I shared almost every element on that board with two work mates and we were just "mmmmm" the whole time, no words spoken.

Look how much Jordan is enjoying his Charcuterie Board. He wouldn't share a single item with anyone.

The hero dish, Spring Lamb Assiette, was similar to when I was at the Beast on a Block event. There was an assortment of stunning cuts of spring lamb done differently. There was the most tender lamb cutlet you'll taste in your life, a back saddle cut, a tenderloin, a cigar filled with lamb, wonderful potatoes, some vegetables beautifully cooked and sauces and herbs to tie it all together. We all polished off the lamb so quickly and mopped up every last bit of juice with bread. Truly an amazing dish. Lamb will never taste the same to me again. I want spring lamb at every meal now. The one work mate who got a Steak said it was sensational, perfectly cooked, tender and flavoursome. But I think he missed out with the lamb, big time.

So how do you follow up a truly stunning main dish, with a dessert that two work mates said were "the best dessert I've ever eaten". I have to agree that it was truly amazing, and I can't think of too many other desserts as good off the top of my head, maybe the Cutler and Co violet dessert as I totally adore violet, or the Vue de Monde pistachio souffle hiding a lava of chocolate inside and swimming in a silky custard. But let me say, this Salted Peanut Caramel Parfait with chocolate, caramelised banana, caramelised popcorn and ice cream is stunning, Jennifer Hawkins and Miranda Kerr stunning. From the first bite of that perfectly textured parfait that has crunch from the nuts and chocolate, saltiness from the parfait itself, aromatic sweetness from the banana, more texture from the caramelised parts of the banana and popcorn, more saltiness from the popcorn, to that final hit of cold ice cream, perfection. Some may compare it to Philippa Sibley's famous Snickers, and yes there are definitely similarities. But I think this dessert has the edge because for me, the caramelised banana and popcorn just give it that extra punch. There will be long drawn out arguments amongst food lovers I'm sure, but I think you can't go wrong with either.

The other two desserts were very good and ok respectively, and simply no match for the Salted Peanut Caramel Parfait. The Marshmallow Souffle was very good, paired with chocolate ice cream, marshmallow and a donut. The Quince was a bit overspiced for me, but the biscuits and ice cream were good.

Not every dish was perfect, but those that I chose were. So for me, this dining experience ranks way up there. The drinks we had throughout the night was expertly served by our sommelier, and Frank came round to check on us a few times. The service was very efficient and totally unnoticed. The room had a great feel to it, relaxed and just full of happy diners I felt. It doesn't hurt that the view is so magnificent, such that whenever you felt a bit bored, you could turn your gaze outside and just get drawn to the lights of the city.

For me, those three outstanding dishes of the Charcuterie Board, Spring Lamb Assiette and Salted Peanut Caramel Parfait will live in my memory for a long time. And anytime even one dish can do that, I think the restaurant is really good already, so when there's three, I would say its near perfection. I know that some of you will moan when I say why I'm deducting a half point from my score, but I really dislike dark restaurants, and the corner of the room that we were in had one section of table that was quite dim, and it did annoy me a bit. Otherwise, a super dining experience which has been backed up by The Point being elevated to two chefs hats in this year's The Age Good Food Guide awards announced about two weeks after I had this meal.

Overall Rating: 19.5/20, An amazing dining experience with some ultra memorable dishes. If only I knew the head chef at every restaurant I dined at, maybe all meals would be this good.

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.

The Point Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow, what beautiful food and photos! The Point is on my list of places to visit, I should make it there soon!

    The desserts look so freakin good!!

  2. Sounds spectacular! I wonder if they'd allow me to stop by just for dessert... or perhaps 3 courses of dessert. :-P

  3. i've waited so long for this post...that i;ve forgotten about hahaha.
    god.... as if not post this earlier, especially when you describe it as near perfection!!!! wonder if i'll be able to ever try that spring lamb sigh...
    charcuterie - i dont seem to be a very big fan of cured meats... seem to be too salty for me =(

  4. Fab post! Very interesting to read and I could sense the excitment and thrill you went through. I like to know every head chef too!

  5. April and Cindy, you both must go for the desserts alone. You will love that parfait I'm sure.

    Allan, sorry it took so long, seeing as I have to work and all haha. Ring up and ask if that lamb is still on the menu. I'm the inverse of you and love charcuterie, my favourite things.

    Penny, if only we could know more head chefs and get served special meals, ahhhh.

  6. Argh, I haven't eaten at the Point yet either (April - maybe we should go together??). So many places to eat, and such limited time and money and stomach space. I must go though!

  7. Agnes, I couldn't agree with you more. There are way too many places that the eyes and brain wants to eat at, but definitely limited time, money and stomach space. You must must go to The Point though, it is sensational. Go with April and make her pay. That way you cut out one of the three limiting factors hehe.

  8. I believe this post denigrates my generous character :P

    I agree that the meal was excellent. Definitely one of my favourites.

  9. The place seems to have a very relaxing atmosphere. The lake view gives the restaurant a serene environment. It’s perfect for couple who are looking for a romantic place for dinner. I can’t wait to try having dinner there! And I want to taste the Spring Lamb dish that you are talking about!

  10. Daphne, the atmosphere and view are excellent and great for a romantic dinner. The spring lamb dish is a must.