Thursday, October 27, 2011

Embrasse

You my remember that a few months ago, Sandra and I were treated to a magnificent birthday dinner at Vue De Monde by our good friend An.  Well, when his birthday rolled around we also wanted to take him to a fabulous restaurant, preferably with a degustation menu.  And after much deliberation, we chose...


Embrasse
312 Drummond St
Carlton VIC 3053
Ph: (03) 9347 3312
Website

I had read many good reviews of Embrasse in blogs and newspapers, and was very excited to visit.  It is a small, unassuming restaurant, located on a quiet street in Carlton.  I was also aware of the protests (and apparent threats of violence) that surrounded their decision to serve horse meat for a very brief period.  I didn't quite understand the fuss, or why horses deserve special attention over say, cows, chickens or sheep.  Horse meat is often served in other countries - in Germany, for example, Pferdemetzgereis, or horse butchers, are not uncommon.

However, back to the topic at hand:

In addition to an a la carte menu, Embrasse have both 5-course ($95) and an 8-course ($125) degustation options.  Being a special occassion, we splashed out on the 8-course option.  And because I didn't have to drive (yay!) I also splashed out on matching wines for an extra $95.  Sandra and An aren't big drinkers so just ordered a glass of wine each for the meal.

And speaking of splashing out...
Kir Royale - $26 each
We started with a round of kir royales.  These are one of my favourite pre-dinner drinks, and were a lovely start to the meal.  At $26 a pop they were pretty pricey - I assume they were made with real champagne - so I've since 'invested' in a bottle of crème de cassis so I can make kir royales at home.  (You can safely assume there's always champagne in my house, hehe!)

Before the procession of courses commenced, we were brought some little amuses bouche served on individual spoons.

I was amazed by the intensity and the purity of flavour of those little mouthfuls; a theme that would be repeated throughout the night.
Beetroot, black sesame seeds, apple

Cauliflower
The breads on offer were olive, and smoked wheat - both warm, crusty and delicious.  These were replenished throughout the night.

The butter was perfectly soft and spreadable - a small detail but so important!  I loved the cute block for butter and the wooden butter knife too.

Now, let's look at the procession of courses.  I'm not going to say too much about each course individually - suffice it to say they were all fabulous and the wine matches were great too!  I love how beautifully composed each plate was.

First Course
Souvenir of Laguiole….our way
Meli Melo of vegetables, emulsions and purees, home grown and foraged herbs and flowers
Suze Cocktail – Gentiane, Cassis and tonic



Second Course
Dory, smoked olives, stinging nettle juices, old way pickles, malt bread
2010 Polperro Pinot Gris – Mornington, VIC


Third Course
Squid cooked in red wine, zucchini and family, fromage blanc froth, meyer lemon and bergamot
2010 Wittmann Riesling – Rheinhessen, Germany

Palate Cleanser
Rhubarb and Rose Tea

This was a rather interesting little palate cleanser, with a unique sour taste that we all thought tasted absolutely distinctly of McDonald's cheeseburgers.  (You know, the sour pickle/onion tang?)  I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it was so unexpected and really cool!

Fourth Course
Pork fillet- roasted and glazed with an anise syrup, mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, flame grilled potato, chicory, Dijon mustard
2008 Bella Ridge Chenin Blanc – Swan Valley, WA

Can you see the little mushrooms on the left hand side of the plate?  How adorable!  I thought this plate was like a composed woodland scene - gorgeous.

Fifth Course
Wagyu beef, smoked rice vinegar, asparagus, ink, caramelised butter, pomme croquette, plantons, wild garlic
2008 Domaine du Vieux Chene Côte du Rhône – Rhône, France

Mmm... rare beef and a crunchy, creamy potato croquette: bliss.

With our final savoury course, I thought that now would be a good time to mention that all the little leaves and flowers on courses weren't just for decoration, but were actual edible components of each dish, adding texture and flavour.

Sixth Course
Cheeses from here and over there
2009 Mas Amiel – South-West France

Pre-Dessert

The pre-dessert was an adventurous flavour combination: dark chocolate, and a red capsicum sauce.  Our waiter informed us it was a love-it-or-leave-it combo - I loved it, Sandra and An weren't quite as enamoured.


Seventh Course
Banana, nougatine, desiree potato, olive oil, sheep’s milk yogurt
2009 Pichot ‘Le Marigny’ Vouvray Moëlleux – Loire, France

Potatoes in a dessert?  A thousand times, yes!  The little potato noodles were appealingly mealy (y'all know I love dough), and combined with a lovely smooth yoghurt, crunchy nougatine and little sweet bursts of banana.    Just wonderful.

And rounding up the meal was Embrasse's famous forest floor dessert.  I've seen and read about it on innumerable blogs, and I was ecstatic when it was brought out!

Eighth Course
Chocolate & hazelnut parfait, forest floor, sorrel mint granita
1982 Toro Albala gran Riserva Pedro Ximenez – Xerez, Spain

I know it's a 'forest floor', but I think it also looks a little 'under-the-sea', don't you?  My favourite part of this dessert was the 'mushroom' with its meringue stem and chocolate parfait cap.  Wow!

And as it was a birthday, our lucky An got a little salted caramel and chocolate petit four.


I'm so glad we chose Embrasse for this special occasion!  The food (as you can see) was amazing, the atmosphere was lovely, and the service was fantastic - warm, professional, efficient and well-informed.  Our dietary requirements were easily accommodated (we'd informed them when we made the booking that one of us didn't eat seafood and only liked meat well done; I felt that it was only fair), and all our other needs were taken care of without us even having to ask.  No problems, no worries - it was such a perfect, enjoyable night!

Happy birthday An!

Embrasse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

5 comments:

Esz said...

Embrasse is awesome isn't it! Good to hear you really loved it too. Next time you go, you must try the aligot - a simple side dish it may seem but it's SO GOOD.

And that forest floor desserts is so amazing.
They *are* fancy-pants French but without that stuffy atmosphere and the service is so good.

Esz said...

Embrasse is awesome isn't it! Good to hear you really loved it too. Next time you go, you must try the aligot - a simple side dish it may seem but it's SO GOOD.

And that forest floor desserts is so amazing.
They *are* fancy-pants French but without that stuffy atmosphere and the service is so good.

Sophia said...

Oh the food looks AMAZING. I've been wanting to go there for AGES and I think I might have to now after your pics :p

Cindy said...

Glad to see your meal at Embrasse was so good! We've had a couple of nice experiences there. The chocolate/capsicum thing was divisive amongst our group too - I liked it.

I've never seen that potato dessert before, it looks really cool. :-)

Nic@diningwithastud said...

Oh wow it all looks really great. Next time we're in Melbourne we'll have to stop past :)