Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce. Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback, comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.

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Friday, April 11, 2008
Attica is Amazing!
There is something rather special about eating really good food. The emotions that it creates and the "high" that follows is like no other. Attica certainly gave me that high last night. I left the restaurant uplifted, whistling and wading along the streets, and no it was not the wine talking - I didn't drink a thing. Put simply, Attica is amazing. The food is described as a contemporary approach to Australian cooking with subtle leanings to the East. It is creative, artfully presented and most importantly tastes sensational. Well worth the drive out to Ripponlea.

In the style of restaurants like Fenix and Interlude the menu at Attica is written based on the ingredients of the dish. Most of the dishes have a deconstructed composition, showcasing all of the ingredients in their raw form. I got to experience this in full capacity last night, enjoying the tasting menu: a selection of eight courses that altogether create a dining experience to savour. I have it on good authority that Tuesday nights are another opportunity not to be missed; with chef Ben Shewry (Gourmet Traveller's best new talent, amongst other things) presenting a five course experimental tasting menu, showcasing a range of his newest creations. The cost of this experience: $69 - good value for the sort of food that one ultimately gets to experience. This is certainly something I look forward to trying in the future.

The dining room at Attica is intimate and well set out with soft lighting, banquets along the walls and a comfortable feel to the place. There is a bar station and seating near the entrance, and two separate main dining rooms. Service is seamless and professional in every way. There is never a moment when drinks need filling; and every dish is presented with a thorough explanation by the servers. The passion is evident, and all whom I come across are well informed and enthusiastic about their jobs, happily servicing the requests of all patrons. They are a true asset to the restaurant.

With all this being said its time to talk about the food. Almost everyone in the dining room was ordering the spice-crusted lamb, which did look sensational. I however wanted the full experience and proceeded with Attica's tasting menu ($110) - an eight-course extravaganza, each course as memorable as its predecessor.

To start off with bread is presented: a choice of sourdough or multigrain. Shortly after I receive an amuse guele, which immediately whits the palette making me yearn for more.

amuse guele: leek and squid ink veloute: A creamy leek flavoured puree; squid ink added for its incredible colour. It is finished with the creamiest egg yolk creme and some crispy fried shallot to garnish. Very classy.

cauliflower cheese, yellow plum, clove oil: A deconstructed dish. The bottom of the plate is layered with fromage blanc, on top of which sit the tiny florets of roasted cauliflower, a fine dice of yellow plum, crunchy Sardinian bread crumbs and hand foraged herbs. The combinations work so well together.

red and white radish, yellowfin tuna, hand picked spanner crab, grapefruit, tarragon: A rather sensational course. The dish starts with some thin sheets of shaved red and white radish, the white sheet being cured in ginger syrup, whilst the red sheet is stained with beetroot ink. On top of the sheets sit some perfect cubes of yellow fin tuna along with chunks of the sweetest, most delicate crab meat. In between we have a tiny dice of grapefruit, crispy puffed wild rice and pickled beetroot segments. The dish is ultimately finished with generous amounts of avruga caviar and some micro tarragon leaves. The prime ingredients and contrasting textures make this a rather stunning dish.

smoked trout broth, sorrel oil, crackling, fresh smoke: This dish is first presented at the table covered with a bowl. When lifted the fresh smoke escapes, resulting in a beautiful woody aroma. In the bowl sits three perfect cubes of Confit ocean trout, along with pieces of pork crackling and the sorrel oil. To this, the broth is added from a beaker: a smoky concoction full of baby basil seeds. This is a very creative dish. The trout meat just melts away in the mouth and the broth has a delightful smoky flavour.

quail breast, almond custard, slow cooked carrots, myrtus berries, salt and vinegar crackers: This is another course that has been put together exceptionally well. The star of the show is a perfect rare roasted quail breast. The accompaniments include slow roasted baby carrots, Tasmanian myrtus berries, salt and vinegar "crackers" and a silky almond custard acting as the sauce component. The dish is finished with some nasturtium flowers and micro tarragon leaves, and once again proves to be an incredible course.

poached harpuka, smoked mussel butter, stems, leaves and roots of vegetables, grilled baby squid: A more delicate dish with such a great deal of care taken throughout. The bottom layer of the plate includes a range of "leaves and roots of vegetables" including finely sliced radish, spring onion, seaweed and squash. The piece of fish itself is gently cooked using sous-vide and the result is juicy fall-apart flesh, flavoured by a smoked mussel butter. Also on the plate are puffed rice balls and well-seasoned pieces of tender grilled baby squid flesh. Perfect ingredients cooked with great care. The result: another near-perfect dish.

twice cooked glenloth pigeon breasts, jerusalem artichoke, fresh peanuts, coffee, crispy saltbush: As the name suggests the pigeon breast is cooked twice: firstly using sous vide, then quickly pan fried resulting in crispy skin and tender, rare meat. The breast sits upon segments of warm smoked beetroot and the smoothest artichoke puree. It is all finished off with a sprinkling of coffee grinds, warm peanuts and "crispy saltbush" - deep fried native herbs, which provide an additional textural element to the dish.

That brings us to the end of the savoury courses; after which two incredible, creative desserts arrive.

sauternes custard with plum bits and pieces: From bottom up the glass is lined with a silky sauterne flavoured custard. On top of this sits a scoop of plum/citrus sorbet and the glass is filled with a sweet plum foam. Its all closed off with a toffee tuille dusted with dehydrated black NZ doris plum dust. Wow - Need I say anymore?

pineapple in caramel, licorice, coconut, lime; The final course: Caramelised pineapple finished with micro coriander shoots. On top sits a quenelle of licorice scented ice-cream, finished with an intense lime/citrus foam. To the side of the plate are perfect little licorice pearls, coconut cream and licorice dust. The bitterness of the lime foam provides a refreshing backdrop to the sweet pineapple and creamy ice-cream. Its a wonderful dessert, and has once again been very cleverly planned out.

Overall, Attica is a dining experience not to be missed. The food was magnificent and the degustation serves quite generous. I find it greatly difficult to criticise any aspect of the experience and can thoroughly recommend Attica for a special dining experience.

MY RATING: 18/20 - Food 9.5/10 Ambience 4/5 Service 4.5/5 - Attica is certainly one of Melbourne's best.


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  posted at 7:29 AM  

At April 13, 2008 at 11:45 PM, Blogger Cakelaw said...

Some interesting looking food here - although as always, dessert is my favourite course ;)

At April 14, 2008 at 11:33 AM, Blogger Ed Charles said...

Looks superb. I keep saying I must return. Maybe I shall try and get in tomorrow or next week.

At April 14, 2008 at 12:15 PM, Blogger Jon! said...

It certainly was Ed. Thanks for the recommendation. I definitely look forward to returning on a Tuesday night to try the chefs experimental menu.

At April 21, 2008 at 11:05 PM, Blogger thanh7580 said...

Attica does looking amazing Jon. How can you afford to keep going to all these places. I'm so jealous. I will just have to write this restaurant down on my list of places to visit and wait for a "special" occasion, like say Tuesday. Tuesday is a special occasion isn't it hahaha.

And thanks for highlighting my blog as the blog of the month. I feel very honoured that you enjoy my blog.

At April 21, 2008 at 11:18 PM, Blogger Jon! said...

Thanks Thanh, I really enjoy your blog. Every day is a special occasion! As I said to you different people spend their $$$ in different ways: I invest much of mine on food. I've been working 7 days a week of late so that also helps. Keep an eye out as I have a number of reviews to post. I am also looking forward to Tempura Hajime, which I am visting this Thursday.

Happy eating :)

At May 10, 2008 at 8:17 PM, Blogger Uncle Dean said...

Thanks for another excellent review Jon!
We are going to book in for Tue 1st July during our visit from England.


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