Monday, May 14, 2012

Albert Street Food and Wine - Simple Food Executed Perfectly

Philippa Sibley may be referred to as the "Dessert Queen" due to her stint in Masterchef where she presented a number of drool worthy dessert challenges. But I think that is really diminishing all the food skills that she has to offer. Having had the opportunity to speak with Philippa personally, she actually enjoys eating savoury food far more than desserts. With Albert Street Food and Wine, where Philippa is Executive Chef, she has been able to show the full range of her repertoire in an environment where people are going for her food. I think her stint at il Fornaio was a mismatch for her, as the cafe/restaurant was torn between what it wanted to be and what the drawcard for people was. Was it a cafe serving coffee and sandwiches for early morning passing traffic? Was it a bakery selling good pastries? Was it a dessert bar? Was it a full on restaurant for casual dining? All this confusion meant Philippa's food got lost. Finally though, we get to taste her amazing food, both sweet and savoury at this wonderful new location.

Albert Street Food and Wine brings a level of casual elegance to the Sydney Road food scene. This is reflected in the beautiful fitout of what used to be an old bank I think. The beautifully polished light wooden floorboards are really inviting. Exposed ceiling beams and brick walls give the room an industrialised look that is all the rage. Very distinctive light fittings and coloured focus tables finish off the effect. A large space is bordered by an equally large bar, and neighbored by a wonderful food store. There are lots of gourmet food items worth checking out. I love the pickles and fig jam and have been back many times to keep buying them.

The menu is split into a number of categories, from starters to pizza, from the grill, pasta, mains and dessert are a few of them. The menu is mainly based around sharing and that's what Hien and I did. We started off with a Grilled Haloumi with Pickles. I cannot tell you how exciting this dish is. I've had grilled haloumi many times, but the addition of this zingy pickle made this dish super awesome.

Mackerel on Toast with nuts was again so good. It had an acidic kick from some vinegar and the varying textures of this dish was so lovely. A special of Grilled Wagyu Skewers with white anchovies again married so many flavours and I loved it.

Also from the grill section, we ordered a Grilled Quail with Grapes and Pedro Ximinez. I'm not a big fan of quail but this dish made me love it. Perfectly grilled quail were moist and tender and served with a fragrant sweet/tangy sauce. A mains of Pulled Lamb with Gnocchi, which initially I thought would be my favourite dish was actually my least favoured. The lamb was soft and tender, but lacked a bit of flavour compared to all the previous amazing dishes. The gnocchi was well made.

For dessert, we ordered a Pistachio Clafoutis and the famous "Snickers". The clafoutis was beautiful and served with a vanilla ice cream and some chocolate soil. However, how can I go past the Snickers. It is a stunning dessert. Smooth caramel parfait is layered with a biscuit base, thin crisp slices of chocolate, smooth chocolate mousse and salty peanuts in caramel. Each mouthful is pure bliss, at least for a massive sweet tooth like me. I warn you, it's sweet so don't order it and complain about how it's too sweet.

Service was very good, although we did go early and the room was quieter. Later on towards the night, obviously we didn't get as much attention but still got our requests dealt with in short time. I love the ambiance in this beautiful space. With the sunset coming through the large windows and a variety of different table heights and group sizes all chatting happily, I felt the vibe of the room while still feeling enough privacy to chat with my dining partner. I would highly recommend visiting Albert Street Food and Wine and sampling through the great menu. When you've finished eating, make sure you thoroughly browse the food store for some fantastic items to take home.

Overall Rating: 16/20, Loved the simple food with wonderful flavours. Ambiance was really enjoyable.

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.

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  1. They're still selling the Snickers dessert?! I thought that was limited-time-only when they first opened. I've clearly got to shuffle over there again to try it out.

  2. Michelle, the super delicious Snickers.

    Cindy, they don't officially sell it. Some days they may make it and will put on specials menu but there's no knowing when. I actually tweeted them to ask them to hold onto one for me specifically haha. So I suggest you try that as well or else it's hard to know when it's on the menu.

  3. The mackarel sounds fantastic, Thanh! What a great meal. And yes, Philippa really is one of a kind, isn't she. Will need to try my luck for the Snickers dessert, sounds very well worth it =)

  4. Love that first photo :)

    Sounds like a great meal. The food sounds really good. I think I will stay away from the Snickers dessert, because I would definitely complain that it's too sweet. ;)

  5. Argh! So jealous you got to have the snickers! They didn't have it in when I went! :(

    Food still looks fabulous. Will have to pop by again sometime.

  6. Winston, all the dishes were great. Philippa's food is really good. Yes you may be lucky and get the Snickers.

    Agnes, inception. Was an excellent meal and the Snickers was my highlight. It will be too sweet for you for sure.

  7. Ooh, I'm going here in a week's time with some friends and we all can't wait! That iPhone - inception style first pic is really cool :)