Ezard is one of those restaurants that just “has it”. It’s sexy, it’s romantic, and – most importantly – it serves damn good food. It’s no wonder Ritsy chose to come here for her birthday dinner (Well, actually, she chose George Calombaris’s The Press Club for something different, but they were booked out for Saturday nights until August…)
Located down a small flight of stairs at The Adelphi hotel on Flinders Lane, past the not-so-private room (glass and see through curtains means you are eating there to be seen) is the long and narrow restaurant space. Tables of two are gently separated along the banquet-chair lined wall with small, rectangular cushions that divide the territory between you and your next-door diner.
Upon sitting down, the wine list, the menus, the water, the freshly baked bread, the beautiful olive oil, and three bread dipping accompaniments (Prickly Ash, Yellow Rock Sugar and Chilli, Wakame and Bonito flakes) arrive in quick succession. We ordered two glasses of the Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne ($35 each, and quite delicious!) while we pondered the night’s menu.
There are two options on Friday and Saturday nights – an 8 course tasting menu (non-vegetarian $140/ vegetarian $125), or a 3 course option based from the a la carte menu (again, non-vegetarian or vegetarian, both priced at $95). As we have had the opportunity of having the tasting menu a few times now, we opted for the 3 course meal.
For entree, Ritsy went with the “Steamed Queensland Tiger Prawn Dumplings, Seared Baby Abalone, Japanese Plum Wine Dressing”. The dumplings looked quite a lot like the ones we made from his book, albeit with a different filling. The plum wine dressing (more of a broth) went very well with the dumplings, adding to the natural sweetness of the prawn meat.
I ordered the “Char-Sui Quail with Manadrin Pancake, Lime and Cucumber Salad and Roasted Rice”, which was also very good. I guess it’s their take on peking duck pancakes, and a good one at that.
The mains were next to arrive – I had the “Master Stock Fried Pork Hock, Chilli Caramel, Spicy Thai Beanshoot Salad and Fragrant Jasmine Rice”, and Ritsy had the “Eight Score Sher Wagyu Beef, Creamed Truffle Potatoes, Asparagus, King Brown Mushrooms, Sticky Shallot Sauce and Mache Salad” for a $20 supplement (it was, after all, her birthday!). As we were both having heavy meat dishes, we ordered 2 glasses of the “2005 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon” ($27 each) from Leeuwin Estate, which was one of the wines we had the pleasure of tasting at the Leeuwin Estate dinner at Maze Grill late last year. Needless to say, the wine was great!
The pork hock was a bit different to the last time I had it – the sauce was too runny, and (as you can see from the photo below) there was way too much fat on this piece of pork – I ended up cutting some of it off. It was still a good dish, but it was not quite at the same level as when I had it nearly two years ago. The bean shoot salad was, as advertised, quite spicy, but was a nice counterpoint to the overly fatty pork hock.
Ritsy’s wagyu beef smelled absolutely amazing – the truffle aroma was quite powerful, but the truffle-to-mash ratio was spot on. We both loved this dish – given my slight disappointment with my main, I even felt a little bit jealous of her at this point!!
Ritsy was feeling a bit full after all that meat and potato, so she ordered the “Mascarpone and Frangelico Mille Feuille, Glazed Fig, Coconut and Chilli Sorbet” with the expectation she wouldn’t be able to eat it all. She was right! She didn’t care much for the pieces of pastry on top (without which, I guess, this dish couldn’t have been called a mille feuille), but thoroughly enjoyed the rest. I thought the coconut and chilli sorbet was a nice touch.
I had the “Honeycrunch Icecream, Toasted Gingerbread and Sugar Swirl” as I had been pondering making it ever since I bought the Ezard book all those years ago. I was not disappointed – the icecream was rich and creamy, the sugar swirl and gingerbread layers giving a nice textural dimension to the dish.
You can’t get much better food and service than you do at Ezard. They still go to the trouble of calling you back a few days after the meal, asking for feedback so that they can continue to tweak their already well oiled machine. 11 years and counting, it’s still one of Melbourne’s best, most consistent restaurants, and I’m sure we’ll return again for another special occasion treat