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Happy eating,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Ezard (City)
I recently had the opportunity to have dinner at one of my favourite restaurants. A place which I had somehow managed to neglect for a number of months and was seriously starting to crave. That restaurant is none other than Teague Ezard’s first child, the aptly named Ezard.

Ezard is snugly located at the base of the Adelphi hotel on Flinders Lane, and is the classic example of a Modern Australian restaurant, showcasing fresh produce cooked with flair. The food is inspiring and always intrigues the taste buds thanks to the use of ingredients such as coriander, lime and chilli, along with many other South-east Asian influences, which lead to the creation of truly memorable dishes with big flavours. The whole experience is undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s finest: amazing food, coupled with seamless service and a comfortable atmosphere to match it. The setting is sophisticated with comfortable seating and banquettes, thick white tablecloths, high quality serving-ware and a modern classy feel displayed throughout.

Tonight I choose to order from the a la carte menu, forgoing my usual degustation experience, which I must add is always a fabulous option here. I am sure I will return soon and blog about it.

The evening begins with my aperitif of choice, Lilet Blanc and whilst I ponder the menu I enjoy the bread and fabulous condiments, all of which are house-made. Three dishes sit on the table for one’s enjoyment: chilli-rock sugar, nori-flecked salt, and prickly ash (a house ground blend of toasted salt and Szechuan pepper). Along with Ezard’s incredible garlic, parmesan and rosemary oil (almost a good enough reason to return in itself), the condiments are greatly enjoyed and give you an insight into the tastes to come.

Before moving on to the food proper one simply has to order the signature shooters. Throughout most of the year a freshly shucked oyster shooter is offered, but as oysters are spawning at the moment and not at their best, I am told, Ezard has a variation for a short time – a kingfish shooter. At $4.50 each they are simply not to be missed. A lovely mound of freshly minced kingfish tartare, sits in a reduced mirin broth, and is served along with a nori roll to refresh the palate afterwards. A great flavour combination and a must-try taste experience. I am lucky enough to be offered “guinea pig” status and also receive a new interpretation of the shooter with frozen granita on the bottom and foam on top – WOW! – It needs a little refinement in regards to the granita placement and timing to ensure the fish does not freeze, but it’s a novel idea and is pretty special nonetheless. As well as this an amuse bouche of smoked salmon with sterling caviar sits on the plate, compliments of the chef. A rather classy way to start the meal.

Entrée: “Salt and pepper squid on iceberg salad ” $21 – I go for an entrée special, which my waiter highly recommends. The bowl contains about six strips of lightly coated salt and pepper squid tubes sitting atop a tangy Thai inspired iceberg lettuce and micro herb salad with a sweet, tangy, chilli broth. An excellent combination of flavours and a delicious moorish way to start the meal. The squid is perfectly tender and the salt and pepper in the batter is prevalent but not so over the top as to result in a sodium overload. A very well-conceived starter that is of a totally different class to what you may expect at you local Asian restaurant.
To drink: 2005 Donhoff Riesling

Main: “Master stock fried pork hock” $40 - This dish is a menu stalwart at Ezard, which has gradually been refined, and remains one of those amazing dishes you find on a menu. Sitting on a plate is a large hock of pork, which has been slowly poached in master stock, then fried until the skin is crisp and finished with a chilli-caramel top. The pork is extremely tender and falls apart inside. The skin is wafer thin and unbelievably crisp and sweet, coated in a crisp chilli caramel, and in between there is a wonderful gelatinous layer that just dissolves in your mouth. All the layers of the pork work well together, to create a sublime taste experience. The accompanying salad adds creativity and Asian elements to the dish consisting largely of bean shoots, mint, herbs and chilli along with a well-conceived dressing that balances sweet, sour and spicy elements to make the dish exciting and memorable. On a whole this is probably one of the best pork dishes you will likely find anywhere, and the combination of flavours ensure that every last mouthful is savoured. The pork is also accompanied with a bowl of fragrant Jasmine rice, which I opt to substitute for the creamed coconut rice. This rice is astoundingly good and will always keep me coming back for more. It is like no other rice I have ever tried, and is another reason in itself to return.

Side Dish. “Heirloom Tomato Salad” $10.50 - A simple fresh salad of sliced heirloom (open-pollinated) tomatoes with micro cresses, and some creamy Persian fetta. The waiter recommends sprinkling the tomatoes with the nori-flecked salt from the condiments tray, which works wonderfully and adds a peppery element to the salad, without overwhelming or distracting from the sweetness of the tomatoes. So simple and clever.

Having eaten at Ezard many times I can also thoroughly recommend the duck, wagyu beef, sea bass and just about everything else on the menu. Every dish is special in its own right and proves to be a cut above the typical fare that you might find at most suburban restaurants.

Dessert: “Caramel parfait with peanut and chocolate crunch, apple confit and blackberry jam” $21 – On one side of the plate sits the parfait, which is more or less a good creamy caramel ice-cream, sandwiched in between two crunchy bitter-sweet rectangles of peanut and chocolate brittle/ crunch. On the other is a deconstructed confit apple, which has been thinly sliced and re-assembled with some sweet sultanas. Finishing touches include fresh blackberries and a smooth blackberry “jam”. To be honest I didn’t quite see the connection between all of the elements in this dessert. Some parts were sweet and other bitter – perhaps slightly mismatched. It was a good dessert, but not exceptional. It should be noted though that most of the desserts I have had here at Ezard have been exceptional, such as a clever artichoke and truffle crème brulee or the delectable honey crunch ice-cream. As a whole though, this dessert was not one of the best options, although the parfait itself was well enjoyed.

Ezard is an excellent dining experience suitable for all occasions. With amazing food, top class service and all the little touches that ensure your night is perfect, why wouldn’t you want to keep coming back?

Ezard received a score of 17 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide and was awarded two chefs hats.

My Score: 18.5/20 – Highly Recommended – One of Melbourne’s best!
Food: 9/10 (Creative, stimulating Asian-influenced modern food)
Service: 5/5 (Possibly Melbourne’s best and most professional service)
Ambience: 4.5/5 (Comfortable, cosy – some may like tables to be a little wider spaced).

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  posted at 10:55 AM  

At December 13, 2007 at 12:57 AM, Blogger Frankster said...

Hi Jon. Just stumbled on a link to your site. Great enticing review on Ezard! Wow you sure appear to be a fine dining connoisseur(sp?)! I'll have to check back the next time when debating on where to go for a special night out!

At December 13, 2007 at 9:26 AM, Blogger Jon! said...

thanks for your comments towser. I try to visit a top restaurant every week if I have the chance (and money). I have just visited Circa the prince and Longrain and will be writing them up shortly. Enjoy, Jon!


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