I know I’m supposed to be on a budget, but when the opportunity came up to have dinner at Attica on their half-price Experimental Tuesdays, one of my besties and I made good on our promise to each other for a fancy meal adventure and booked a table. Five courses for $80 is much friendlier on the wallet than the usual $140 for 8 courses and we got to sample their new seasonal creations.
Tuesday Night Chef’s Table
Ben and his kitchen team use Tuesday nights as an opportunity to test and develop new menu ideas. Our Chef’s Table menu is a five course degustation priced at $80 per head. Chef’s table is a great night for diners who are willing to trial some of the latest cooking ideas from the attica kitchen. Wine matches are also available on Tuesdays for an additional $45 per head.
We sat down at our table by the window and were presented with a warm roll (seeded or sourdough) with creamy butter, pink salt and what turned out after much deliberation and a pinky-dip-and-taste to be a little dish of whipped olive oil. The wine list is limited by the glass, but they have a fasntastic selection of Australian and international wines by the bottle, or you can add matched wines to your 5 course degustation for $45. I elected for two glasses and B elected for the matchings.
The first course was minature brussels sprouts with almond butter, clover and hay salt. The pink rings are shallot and the tiny clover leaves in their little hearts were an adorable finish. Paired with a Sorenberg sauvignon semillion blanc from Beechworth, Victoria, it was a very pleasant start to the meal and a different take on everyone’s least favourite vegetable. The sommelier was very knowledgable and had the most endearing Keira Knightley-esque accent.
The next course was a cos lettuce heart lightly poached in a pork glaze containing prawn mince. Not the best value course considering the ingredients but it was cooked so lightly as to render the inner core just soft and the outer leaves still crisp enough to have bite. The prawn mince with the pork flavour was divine, like the insides of a dumpling. Paired with my first choice of wine, Larry cherubino reisling from Mount Barker, WA. I think it could have used a crouton and a parmesan wafer to make some kind of caeser salad style dish which would have been a little more substantial given the starkness of the heart against the plate left it looking a little lonely.
After a bit of a break in the great service, allowing the other diners around us to catch up on their courses in the now fairly full restaurant, we were presented with our third course. I had asked for the wine list to select my next glass and it was quite some time before the sommelier returned to take my order. However, once the wine and new dish arrived, I was much less bothered by the wait. The pork jowl with spring onion in a yeast broth with tiny tubers was absolutely divine. It was cooked so perfectly that the meat pulled apart like a goulash, giving it an almost fish-like flakiness. The skin, salted, was full of flavour and the flesh so moist that I couldn’t help but feel a little guilt in my enjoyment of a rare meat-eating. The matched wine was Domaine du vissoux ‘Les Griottes’ Gamay from Beaujolais, France.
The last savoury course was presented with my second choice of wine, Domaine Luci ‘red’ from Adelaide Hills, SA. Two slices of tender beef rib with grilled pepper, a spear of dill cucumber and what we figured out was almost definitely a potato and apple slaw in a light dressing. Again, the meat was tender and moist, the flavour of the crust full yet not overpowering. By this stage I was pleasantly sated but I knew there was one final course in store.
Whilst I didn’t manage to get a picture of the final course as I was visiting the ladies room, it was fun to be able to walk through the passageway in between the main kitchen and the dessert preparation area, a clear room that allowed you to see the young man hard at work sending out this eclectic arrangement of flavours. White chocolate and green tea sorbet on a white balsamic and greek yoghurt bed with a hazelnut crust base and teensy chocolate bits. I think. It was all very refeshing and a lovely palate cleanse at the end of the meal but it was almost overworked with spots of chocolate on top of the base as well. The wine matching was a La Spinetta moscato diasti from Piedmont, Italy and whilst I thought it might be too sweet, it balanced the tartness of the dessert quite well.
Three hours after sitting down, we left Attica with pleasantly full but not overstuffed bellies and lighter but not devastated wallets. If it wasn’t for the fairly annoying pause in the middle, I don’t think I could have had much to say about it negatively. To know that a chef and his team are actively foraging (literally) for ingredients and presenting a display that may change week to week allowing you to witness the creative process, is something quite spectacular. Ben Shewry and his team are well deserving of their place in the Top 100 and I can’t wait until my budget is a little more relaxed so I can experience the full degustation.
From the website:
We are thrilled to announce that on Tuesday 27th April we received the sensational news that Attica has been listed as the 73rd Best Restaurant in the world in the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List. This list is often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the hospitality world, so you can imagine how excited and humbled we are to receive this recognition – www.theworlds50best.com
Attica: 74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea – www.attica.com.au