312 Drummond St
Carlton VIC 3053
Ph: (03) 9347 3312
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|
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|
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.
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
Dory, smoked olives, stinging nettle juices, old way pickles, malt bread
2010 Polperro Pinot Gris – Mornington, VIC
Squid cooked in red wine, zucchini and family, fromage blanc froth, meyer lemon and bergamot
2010 Wittmann Riesling – Rheinhessen, Germany
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!
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.
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.
Cheeses from here and over there
2009 Mas Amiel – South-West France
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.
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!
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!