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Jon!




Friday, September 28, 2007
Mirka at Tolarno (St. Kilda)
It's a Friday afternoon and I have no dinner reservations. I am busy calling all my favourite restaurants trying to get a booking but it seems that unless I want an early or very late booking everywhere is "fully booked". At last I decide to try somewhere new and call Mirka. I and am told they have a table in their side room (the name of which I cannot recall). I specifically ask is this in your restaurant or the adjacent bar: - The restaurant I am told, it is just a side room we have - attached to the restaurant. Excellent - I am excited to try the food at this relatively new restaurant and see what sought of a beast Guy Grossi has created down in St. Kilda. After eating at Grossi Florentino I have high expectations - the food there is brilliant and I expect nothing less here.

As soon as I arrive I am immediately dissapointed - I am seated in the room, which is a separate section next to the bar, not in the same section as the restaurant proper. There are about half a dozen tables here, with two other couples dining. It just does not feel right. Seriously lacking ambience (although it seemed to be buzzing in the restaurant proper), with a couple of "high profile" guests dining in. I came to eat in the restaurant, not a room next to the bar. Oh well, get over it I thought - I'm here now - I might as well try and enjoy it. The decor is very old fashioned style - checkboard napkins and picnic style cuttlery - very nice though, just not one what would normally associate with a fine dining establishment. After making my intial judgements the menu arrives, and it is the full restaurant menu and pricing, good- at least the food should be really good I think.

Well, the menu reads nicely and I am very enticed by a number of dishes. I decide on ordering the cured salmon gravlax as an entree and the roast duck as a main, with a side of potatoes.

The entree ($22) arrives and I am excited to try it. The dish looks lovely - the thin salmon slices are neatly presented with a deconstrcuted egg - horseradish egg white cream topped with and crumbled yolk on top - presented as if it is an egg with a few rocket/ mitzuna leaves surrounding it. A novel idea. The taste though, average. The salmon tastes good - it is fresh, but not seasoned and thus a little bland and the egg idea - well it just tasted like egg - bland and unseasoned, the horseradish barely apparent. I was very dissapointed. A dish that promised so much and delivered so little. More seasoning would have made it better.



The main arrives and again it looks fairly good. The duck al'orange ($34) is roasted nicely. It is a generous serving and is extremely tender and falling apart. This dish is marred by the sauce though. A super intense orange sauce that was far too strong and took away from the taste of the duck. I really like oranges, but have never tasted an orange sauce that was this strong and bitter, and the duck was swimming in it - why did you have to fill my bowl up with this?




The roseamary and garlic potatoes as a side were OK, but for $8, you only get a very small dish and they are nothing above the norm.

At this point I could not stand any more dissapointment and opt to forgo dessert.

Coffee was however very good - possibly the highlight of the night!



Overall Mirka was an acceptable dining experience. I had high expectations, given strong reviews and knowing how good Grossi's food can be, but in this instance I was underwhelmed. Maybe I just chose poorly - either way it was OK but nothing particualry exciting or special as I was hoping for. That being said I look forward to going back and dining in the restaurant proper, and trying some other dishes. Can anyone reccomend something great?

Mirka was awarded One Chefs Hat and received a score of 15 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide.

My rating for Mirka is: 13/20
Reasonable Food (6/10), Traditional surroundings, not much going on (in side room) (3/5), Attentive Service (4/5)

www.mirkatolarno.com

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