Degustation

Amaru

7/24/2018 08:05:00 AM

Amaru Melbourne

You may remember that we used to have a birthday tradition with our friend An, where we'd buy each other a fancy degustation as a birthday gift. (Some examples: Estelle by Scott Pickett, Brae, Attica, Stefano's, Jacques Reymond, Royal Mail Hotel, Tetsuya's, Embrasse, Vue De Monde...) A couple of years ago, we decided to dial it back a little, as the dinners were getting more and more extravagant - flights and accommodation were involved, seriously! Since then, for example, one of our birthday dinners was at The Noble Experiment for a meal that was super fun and delicious, but not overly expensive.

Last year, however, we had to skip our birthday dinner as Sandra was away in New York. So, this year, An decided to combine two years' worth of birthday dinners into one - and treated us the full eight-course "Sensory" degustation menu at Amaru!

Amaru
5/1121 High Street
Armadale VIC 3143
Ph: (03) 9822-0144
Amaru Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I hadn't been following the new openings in Melbourne, so I have to admit I was completely unaware of Amaru before dining there. It was actually a lovely way to experience the restaurant - no expectations or preconceptions - and I was surprised and delighted by the dining experience! However, since our visit I have learned that the head chef, Clinton McIver, is an ex-Vue de Monde sous chef, and the degustation-only menu could loosely be described as modern Australian fine dining.

Amaru is located on a quiet strip of High Street Armadale (surrounded by high-end bridal shops), and is an intimate space that only seats 34. I loved the warm-yet-chic decor - it felt like being in the living room of a very expensive and tastefully put together home.

Wine glasses and decanters

We started with some aperitifs - I particularly liked the refreshing and lightly bitter contratto spritz, Amaru's house version of an Aperol spritz.

Contratto Spritz x 2 - $16 each

As per usual, rare-meat-and-seafood-avoider Sandra went for the vegetarian menu, whist the rest of us had the standard offering.

We started with a raft of delightful snacks - onion crisps topped with garfish and sheep's milk yogurt; duck ham and fermented carrot boats; sweet corn and chicken liver tartlets with pickled blackberry; and cute little deep-fried "dim sims" with black garlic and fermented yeast. The vegetarian versions of the amuses looked similar but (obviously) omitted the meat element.

Amuses-Bouches

Onion / Garfish / Sheep's Milk Yoghurt

Fermented Carrot / Lightly Smoked Duck Ham
Fermented Carrot / Air Dried Fig

The lightly smoked duck ham was replaced by air-dried fig for the vegetarian version.

Chicken Liver / Pickled Blackberry / Sweetcorn
Crème Fraîche / Pickled Blackberry / Sweetcorn

Dim Sim / Black Garlic / Natural Yeast

The first course proper was (for the regular menu) Port Arlington mussels, served with a mussel cream, charred broccoli, and different lettuces in an elderflower vinaigrette, and for the veggoes: onion with rocket oil and broccoli. (For most of the courses, the vegetarian and omnivore versions looked very similar, so I'll mainly just post one picture from each course).

Onion / Rocket Oil / Broccoli

The second course was particularly impressive - snow crab with muntries (a native berry), oyster cream and an apple granita. The crab was incredibly fresh and the elements all worked together really well. The picture below is of the vegetarian version, with fresh and pickled radishes replacing the snow crab.

Fresh and Pickled Radishes / Sea Lettuce / Apple Ice

The house-baked sourdough bread was a highlight of the meal. Chewy and sour, with an addictive crust; it was accompanied by light and fluffy cultured butter, and the unusual combo of extra virgin olive oil with malted beer honey. (The malted beer honey was thick and syrupy, providing a sweetness, not unlike the more traditional balsamic vinegar). So good! Given that there were many more courses to come, the sensible thing to do would have been to limit ourselves to one serving of bread, but when they came around and asked if we wanted more, the response from the table was a resounding "YES!"

Our Sourdough / Cultured Butter / Unfiltered Olive Oil / Malted Beer Honey

Moving onto a slightly more substantial course... a beautifully cooked aged hapuka, topped with addictively salty saltbush and (as per the notes I hurriedly typed into my phone as our waiter described the dish) "other general deliciousness".

Aged Hapuka cooked on charcoal, Saltbush

Heirloom carrot for the vegetarian course!

Heirloom Carrot / Saltbush

Next up was a wonderful mushroom-based dish: shiitake mushrooms from the Otways, cooked in shiitake butter (!) on top of a savoury egg custard, much like chawan mushi. A rich mushroom broth was poured over the plate at the table. So umami, such delicious.

Otway Shiitake / Green Onion Oil / Chawanmushi

The final savoury course was based on kangaroo. Kangaroo can be very lean and tend to toughness, but it was very tender here. I absolutely loved this dish, with all its rich flavours - the kangaroo, jus gras, the allium flavour of slow-cooked onion, nutty crunchy raw cacao and soooo much brown butter. Amazing!

Dry Aged Kangaroo / Sandalwood Nut / Raw Cacao

Here's the vegetarian version, with the kangaroo replaced by salt-baked beetroot.

Salt-Baked Beetroot / Rhubarb / Raw Cacao

Our first dessert was the super cute "Dirty Potato". (Incidentally, Dirty Potato would definitely be my stripper name). This was a crispy potato skin "cone", filled with potato ice-cream and surrounded by a lightly nutty and chocolatey crunchy rubble. It was slightly savoury, slightly sweet, totally delicious.

Dirty potato

The second dessert was an intensely bright and vibrant barbecued strawberry soup, with creamy buckwheat ice-cream, strawberry sorbet, elderflower granita and a splash of olive oil. The combination of textures and flavours was spot on, and we all loved this dessert! I'm not normally one to use olive oil in desserts, but the grassy freshness really complimented the fruity flavours.

Main Ridge Strawberries / Elderflower / Olive Plant

And the final dessert was almost too pretty to eat! What looked like gold bar was actually a light and airy Meredith Dairy goat's cheese cheesecake, which came with a blood plum sorbet, sorrel and honeycomb.

Meredith Cheesecake

I loved that the desserts weren't overly sweet or rich, and had a great balance of flavours and textures.

And then there was coffee and tea. Can we all take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous crockery? According to the floor manager, they're specially made by a local potter for the restaurant. I loved the warm, organic feel of the cups. (And the gorgeously luminous gold interior of the tea cup!)

Flat white

Tea

The petits fours that came with the drinks were some chewy grass-fed beef fat caramels (obviously made without the beef for the vegetarian option), and, my favourite, digestive biscuits with a passionfruit and tea ganache. All of my favourite things, together in one biscuit!

Grass-fed Beef Caramel
Tea ganache / Passionfruit / Cookie

And of course there was a little chocolate marquise for the birthday girls to share. (Don't worry, we shared with An).

Chocolate marquise

It was an absolutely stunning meal, and ranks right up there at the top of all the degustations we've been fortunate enough to experience.

I definitely want to go back. (Do you think they do weddings...?) Based on what I've seen on Instagram and heard from friends, they seem to keep the structure of the menu the same and change the ingredients based on the seasons, so I think it would be worth organising a revisit in a few months or a year! 

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3 comments

  1. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Sounds and looks amazing Sarah.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looks amazing, but couldn't help but notice..

    " (Do you think they do weddings...?) " does that mean you are engaged??? If so congrats!

    ReplyDelete

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