In the current climate of food trends in Melbourne, the scene is trending towards more casual dining, with emphasis on simplicity and sharing. The alarm bells are being sounded that fine dining is finished. I think, like most trends, things come and go, and regardless of the trends, those businesses that provide a service/product that that is desired by customers will still survive. Cupcakes for example are supposed to have gone past being trendy, but a good cupcake will still be enjoyed by people indefinitely. I think fine dining fits into the same category. If a restaurant provides something that no one else can provide, it will survive. For me, I still love fine dining. I will say that I used to go out to fine dining establishments a lot when I first got a job. That has slowed down as financially it is just not possible, but for me, I still want to visit fine dining places for special occasions and experiences. Long after I've forgotten many other good casual meals, the truly transcendent fine dining experience still lives long in my memory. So while the fine dining sphere in Melbourne may be reported as dying, I believe that those restaurants who can provide memorable experiences will still survive. It is still an aspirational event.
If you're interested in both discussing this topic and eating some amazing food, an upcoming Good Food Month event known as Is Fine Dining Finished? will be held at The Point Albert Park. It will feature food from Justin Wise of The Point Albert Park and Luke Croston of Gazi and hosted by Dani Valent.
What: Four course meal comparing street food to fine dining.
Justin Wise from The Point and Luke Croston from Gazi will both cook the meal.
When: November 26th, 6:30pm
Where: The Point Albert Park
Cost: $145 which includes matched wines and cocktails. Tickets can be purchased here.
I was fortunate enough to attend a preview dinner with some fellow bloggers and George Calombaris. For the dinner, we tried:
Soft shell crab souvlakakia
Beef brisket souvlakakia
Pan seared foie gras and pear
2007 Max Ferd Richter Braunberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese, Mosel Germany
Macleay Valley rabbit, guanciale, pithivier and broad beans
2010 Domaine Geantet Pansiot Bourgogne Rouge, Cote d'Or France
Mastic musk stick, loukoumi, loukamades, hone and sunflower.
The souvlakakia from Gazi were really good. I absolutely loved the flavours of the soft shell crab one, with the secret sauce containing the identifiable honey, but also surprisingly fish sauce. According to chef George Calombaris, Greeks used to use fish sauce a lot in their cooking. The already famous pita bread was soft and the soft shell crab had really good flavour. The beef brisket souvlakakia also was tasty but not as exciting in flavour.
Next up, a luxurious pan fried foie gras with pear from The Point was pure indulgence. The soft butteryness of the foie gras was so good. If this is what fine dining is about, I'd happily eat it any day.
The rabbit mains from The Point showcased not only the skill of the chef in the cooking method, but in pairing the flavours. There were many contrasts of textures and flavours all brought together with a beautiful sauce. The pithivier may seem old skool but when executed perfectly, it was melt in my mouth stuff.
Lastly we finished with desserts of loukamades served with a mastic musk stick from Gazi. I felt these loukamades were a bit doughy for my liking, compared to my favourite ones from Oakleigh. The mastic musk stick (there's a tongue twister for you, trying saying it 10 times while eating one) was rather powerful by itself but paired nicely with the loukamades.
Petit fours of chocolates, pate de fruits and shortbread biscuits were served with tea or coffee.
The meal was really delicious and I think the topic is very interesting. I'd recommend attending the event and trying the food for yourself and getting involved in the discussion on whether fine dining is finished.
Thanks to the quiche Tink PR for inviting me and to The Point Albert Park for hosting me.