Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Point - Old vs New Degustation

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

I have become a massive fan of The Point ever since Executive Chef Scott Pickett took over the reigns. Read about my previous excellent experiences here, here and here. I was thinking about going to The Point's Old vs New event with my cousin Allan during the Melbourne Food and Wine festival, so imagine my utter delight when I received an invite to attend the event. Obviously I said yes.

The idea of the event is that it would be a degustation dinner featuring a battle of old techniques and new techniques. Scott would be cooking with old techniques, while Ryan Flaherty, ex chef from The Fat Duck, would be using new techniques. They would use the same core ingredient to cook with. It sounded like an excellent idea and the execution proved to be just the case. To start, here is a photo of Scott and myself. You know I'm a chef groupie so I had to get a photo.

I was seated at a table with my fellow food bloggers Ed and Jess, along with Julia from Julia Tink PR and Mark Best, food writer from The Age. I had a great time all night chatting to them whilst eating the amazing food.

Suckling pig croustade, white onion gel – the collaboration
NV Pommery Apanage, Reims France
2006 Yarrabank Cuvee, Yarra Valley

The first dish of the night was a collaborative effort matched with two wines. The croustade was delicious, with soft pork encased in a beautifully crispy pastry. Both wines were very good, favouring the Pommery slightly.

Egg (old): Poached egg, white polenta and black truffle
2009 Domain Mittnacht Riesling, Alsace France

Egg (new): 63c egg, blackened corn and jamon
2009 Christmont Riesling, King Valley

The next two dishes were of the humble egg, but cooked in the most delicious fashion imaginable. The Poached Egg by Scott was truly mind blowing. It's such a classic combination paired with the truffle and was always going to be hard to "beat". However, Ryan's 63C egg came close. The texture was sublime and went well with the jamon. It was an excellent dish but I think this round went to Old. As for the wine, I actually preferred the King Valley Riesling.

Whiting (old): Grilled whiting, golden raisins, pinenuts and beurre noisette
2008 Chablis 1er Cru Fourneaux (Louis Moreau), Chablis France

Whiting (new): Smoked whiting, fennel and bacon
2008 Red Hill Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsular VIC

Two whiting dishes were served next. Scott's old dish of Grilled Whiting had me impressed already as I thought the fish was cooked perfectly. I liked the burnt sauce but I didn't quite like the raisins in it. Ryan's new dish of Smoke Whiting was perfection. The texture topped that of the grilled whiting and the flavours were better. The foam, as wanky as it looked, actually tasted nice. For the wines, I liked the Chardonnay much more than the Chablis.

Duo of pasture fed beef – two different techniques
2003 Chateau Balac Cru Bourgeois, Medoc France
2004 Ainsworth & Snelson Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra SA

The duo of beef really highlighted the two techniques. Both steaks were served just as, cooked and salted just the right amount. On the left is Ryan's new style steak while Scott's old style steak is on the right. Both steaks were really delicious, and I liked the texture of the sous vie steak more. But you can't beat the charred caramelised edges of a great grilled steak and that won me out in the end. Mains were served with very old skool mixed leaf salad and extra creamy mashed potato. For the wines, I preferred the Cabernet far more.

Apple (old): Apple tart and hokey pokey ice cream
2007 Chateau Gravas, Sauternes France

Apple (new): Apple, cinnamon, yoghurt and honeycomb
2009 William Downie Petit Monseng, King Valley VIC

Lastly, dessert, my favourite part. The "old" style apple tart (served in a very modern flat slice) was stunning. It was quite sweet so paired well with the ice cream. The new style sous vie apples definitely had a wow factor and zing, having been cooked in apple juice to amp up the flavour of apples. As good as it was, I like the comfort of the apple tart and would eat that time and time again. For the wine, how can you go past sauternes, a classic.

So by the end of the meal, I'm not sure who won the night. There were elements here and there that each technique managed to do better than the other. Cooking is not about using one technique anyway, it's about combining different cooking methods to produce the best final dish. I think sometimes molecular gastronomy can go too far and be more about the technique than the food, but Ryan's food was definitely to do with taste and flavour rather than just purely technique. Scott's food is always great and he uses some classic flavour combinations to cook great food and pairs them with other ingredients to give them a modern edge.

With the wines, whilst I prefer some of the old school wines, I was informed they cost 3-4 times the new school wines, some of which I actually preferred. Maybe it's because I'm used to the flavours but if my money was at stake, I'd be buying new school wines most times.

Overally, I had a wonderful night and it was a wonderfully run event with sensational food and wine. I can't wait to go back to The Point again for more sensational food.

Thanks to Julia Tink PR for the invite and I dined complimentary of The Point.

The Point Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Awesome experience! I have yet to check out The Point. Another one on the list. :)

  2. This is really your favourite place to go isn't it? It seems like your love for this place knows no bounds.. I must make this on my list too!

  3. What a great idea for a degustation. That apple tart definitely has my vote!

  4. What a fun idea for an event and great idea for a degustation! Everything looks so goooood! :) Great pics! Will make it there eventually...

  5. Penny, you know you have to go to The Point.

    I-Hua, it's one of my current favourite places.

    Susan, it was a sensational meal and the tart was brilliant.

    Ashley, great meal indeed. Pics got worse as it got darker, but managed to salvage a few that were lit by candlelight.