Ezard - CBD, Melbourne
Date: Saturday 23rd April 2011
Address: 189 Flinders Lane, CBD Melbourne
Phone: 03 9639 6811
Commentary : Sarah Andrew
Since first opening in 1999, Ezard has hit the ground running, being awarded the much sought after 'Two Hats' and went on to be named Best New Restaurant in The Age Good Food Guide. Owner Teage Ezard has not looked back and continues to over deliver along with his talented staff. Current accolades include Two Hats - 2011 The Age Good Food Guide; Two Stars - 2011 Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide; Three Glass Rating - 2011 Australia's Wine List of the Year Award - PHEW!
The cuisine has been aptly described as 'Australian freestyle', Asian influences from China and Thailand (although not exclusively from these regions). Sharn Greiner is current Head Chef, Jackson Watson Head Sommelier and Quentin Ferguson Restaurant Manager. We have been supplying wine to this restaurant for a few years now and until recently only had the pleasure of dining at their sister restaurant Ginger Boy (see review on 17th October 2010).
Why on earth have I waited so long? No seriously!
To set the scene there was an occasion to celebrate and my obvious choice was Ezard. Obvious by reputation, recommendations and more than several ‘I can’t believe you have not dined there’ comments made to me over the past few months. So it was with much anticipation that I arrived on Saturday 23rd April to a lovely greeting and acknowledgment of the celebration I was partaking in.
Despite booking early (for 615pm) there were already a few tables occupied and over the following several hours each table was taken and several others ‘turned over’ to greet additional guests. The private dining room at the front of the restaurant was very busy, but it always is.
The design of the restaurant is long and narrow (but not too narrow); elegant but with a contemporary flair. Located below ground with windows at street level, discretion is taken care of with subtle blinds. Lighting was perfect and so too was the spacing of tables, what a joy to be at a restaurant with excellent acoustics, when the restaurant was full I was no more aware of my fellow diners than when only a few tables were occupied at the start of the evening.
The choice of menu on Friday & Saturday evenings is either three courses for $95 or an eight course degustation for $140 with an additional cost for wines to match. Sadly I had eaten lunch quite late so opted for the three courses, though by the look of what was offered in the degustation I will simply have to book again with an appetite.
Our dining experience ran something like this:
- NV Pommery Apanage Brut, Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France
- Amuse Bouche with coconut prawns with lime leaf and lemongrass foam, finished with black sesame seeds.
- Black sesame crusted kingfish, wasabi, edamame puree, lime custard - with Frankland Estate Smith Cullam Riesling, Frankland River, WA
- Steamed Queensland tiger prawn dumplings, seared baby abalone, Japanese plum wine dressing - with Escarpment Pinot Gris, Martinborough, NZ
A little taster from the entrée selection
- Char-sui quail with manadrin pancake, lime and cucumber salad and roasted rice - with by Farr Farrside Pinot Noir, Geelong, VIC
- Chinese roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and asian greens - with 2008 Domaine Tollot Beaut 1er cru Savigny-Champ-Chevrey Chorey les Beaune
- Caramelised apple and rhubarb crumble, vanilla mousse and apple cider sorbet
- Bittersweet chocolate torte, five spiced cumquats, praline ice cream and vanilla macaroons
The appetiser is offered complimentary to all guests and was a perfect way to waken my taste buds. Mind you they were pretty alert after the first sip or two of Pommery Champagne! I opted for the coconut prawns for entrée and kid you not the food seemed to evaporate on my tongue. The flavors were so delicate and the dish was in harmony. As for the Frankland Estate Smith Cullam Riesling - ooh laa laa (stunning).
Anna, a member of the Sommelier team treated us to a little taster from the entrée selection, to showcase one of their signature selections. The wine and food pairing was a delight and I can still smell and taste the quail with mandarin pancake. If I remember correctly silence followed this dish for quite some time as my dining companion and I held onto the last possible ounce of enjoyment from the flavors.
We both opted for the same main course and were equally relieved that we did not have to share even a ‘taste’ with each other. Anna’s recommendation of a half bottle of Domaine Tollot was perfect as neither of us wanted a whole bottle but wanted a glass of something from Burgundy and knew one glass would not quite be enough to last to the last mouthful of duck.
A little while after we had completed our main my companion made a rather large declaration: the duck was the best she had eaten since living in Australia (some six years of comparison so quite a comment). I did not disagree but was so content I did not even want to try to make any comparison.
The presentation of both desserts was worth taking a photo of (sadly we did not do this) and again the balance of flavor and weight something to behold. I am not an overly sweet-tooth so if ever my review falls short in desserts this is the only reason why. My companion however has a strong track record on the dessert front and thoroughly enjoyed the finale.
A magnificent evening was had by us both. Service was attentive but not over-bearing and the food and wine far exceeded my already high expectations. Ezard is open for lunch Monday to Friday and dinner Monday to Saturday. Bookings are essential, and I would highly recommend they are made well in advance to avoid disappointment.
I will certainly re-visit this restaurant for a degustation experience, and would love to host a wine dinner in due course. Do go you will not be disappointed. Thanks to the team at Ezard for making the night really special.