We had an opportunity this Friday for a nice dinner and were searching for a place that offers degustation menu. We found Ezard while browsing through the Net and it was also advertised in our Greater Melbourne 2010|2011 Entertainment Book™ ;). As expected, as we only called in a couple of days before, we managed to secure a table for the Pre-Theater Tasting Menu that starts at 6pm, to be completed by 7.30pm. Apparently, the Degustation Menu which last for three hours was fully booked – ‘welcome’ to Melbourne CBD.
We were the first to arrive and were assigned a table with partly booth-style seating. The interior setup was neat and classy, with a stretched bar counter on the right and tables settings on the left. The lighting was dim though, but was supplemented by tea lights on each table. I foresee myself having difficulties in getting good shots as I didn’t carry my flash-gun!
As usual, we took a while browsing through the menu and had lots of questions too. Our waitress was very, very attentive to all our queries. I went for the Pre-Theater Tasting Menu ($65) and Additional Wagyu Course (surcharge of $35) while Ms. L had the Three Courses Menu ($95) with Wagyu (surcharge of $20). We knew that the courses included appetizers but wouldn’t want to missed out on Ezard’s highly-raved Japanese inspired oyster shooters ($5.50 each).
Firstly, we were served freshly baked bread with rosemary-parmesan-garlic infused olive oil and three types of condiments at the side – dashi salt, yellow rock sugar with chilli, and prickly ash (Szechuan pepper). I’ve tried many versions of infused olive oil and this was the best so far. Dipping the bread with oil followed by the sides ‘jump-started’ our taste buds, in preparation for the courses to come. Of the three dips, the chilli rock sugar was my favourite. The oyster shooters came shortly. The waiter gave us a quick summary of the shooters and guided us to work from right to left. On the right was a very refreshing amuse bouche in a form of a light froth mixture (which I can’t figure-out what it was!). Next was a mini soba-nori roll; followed by the shot glass filled with a composite of mirin-sake-soy-wasabi. Floating in the concoction was a fresh Tasmanian Pacific oyster . I was busy taking my shots and was given a reminder by the waitress to not spend too long on the entree as there are ways to go and we’ll need to leave by 7.30pm. Anyways, the shooters were really good, can’t really describe the experience but the taste was one of a kind – a must if we return!
My Pre-Theater Tasting Menu started with a steamed Queensland tiger prawn dumpling with seared baby abalone. This plate was served with the Japanese plum wine dressing drizzled in front of me. I reckoned it’s to make sure that the dumpling tasted its best and not over-soaked in the dressing. Indeed the dumpling tasted gorgeous, full of flavours from the prawn and abalone and matched well with the dressing. I remembered gulping down some of the dressing and even dipping with bread! Ms. L.’s Three Courses Menu started with the five spiced bangalow sweet pork belly with celeriac and apple remoulade and mustard sauce. The pork belly melted easily in the mouth together with a stingy portion of crackling. At the bottom was a wedge of apple that tasted ‘okay’ – could be further cooked.
My second dish was the crispy fried white polenta with sauteed mushrooms, peas, poached egg, truffle oil and soft herbs. I can’t recall much about this plate but it was ‘okay’. Next was the Chinese roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and asians green. The roast duck was fantastic – very soft and moist. The combination with the coconut rice was an interesting savour.
My fourth dish and Ms. L.’s second dish were the mains. These two dishes were the highlights of the evening – both the same, just that mine was a smaller version to make sure its portion fits the overall pre-theater menu :(. Its the eight score sher wagyu beef with creamed truffle potatoes, asparagus, king brown mushrooms, sticky shallot sauce and mache salad. Our wagyu beef slices were perfect, medium rare. I took a shot of Ms. L.’s slice to show how it was done. The high scored wagyu slices melted so smoothly and flavourful! The sweet shallot sauce at the side was worth matching with the wagyu although most like it as is. This was a wonderful and unforgettable dish for both of us.
The desert took awhile to arrive, guessed that they had meticulously composed and arranged it judging by how they were presented to us. Ms. L.’s plate was the bittersweet chocolate torte, five spiced cumquats, praline ice-cream and vanilla macarons. She really loved the chocolate torte piece and the macarons were great. Unlike the Three Course Menu where you are allowed to pick the desert from the à la carte menu, mine was fixed – honey crunch ice-cream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl. This desert was just ‘okay’ for me.
We will return for the oyster shooters and the wagyu beef, and if we are able to plan a couple of weeks in advance, we’ll definitely try Ezard’s Degustation Menu.Ezard 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000 Victoria, Australia.
Recent Award: Two Chef’s Hat – The Age Good Food Guide 2012