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Friday, September 26, 2008
The Point - Albert Park
The Point is a restaurant, which certainly has a lot going for it. A great location with some of the most picturesque views in Melbourne, overlooking Albert Park lake. The views however are certainly not the only drawcard: the amazing food, stellar wine list and polite, professional service all make The Point one of Melbourne's premier dining destinations.

On Thursday night I dined at The Point for the first time and was mighty impressed with the entire experience. Upon arrival I am promptly presented with iced water, rather than being pressured into buying still or sparkling - something that should be standard. The room itself is very welcoming: temperature set to a pleasant level; a smart, modern dining room with nicely dressed tables and stunning views over Albert Park lake. Attention to detail is high. One comes to appreciate the fact that linen has been pressed and that stemware and crockery are of a high quality including steak knives by Laguiole. The fine dining elements all exist at The Point with amuse bouches and gueles provided as standard, all in an environment that is casual and classy at the same time. A mixed crowd of suits, alongside yuppies in jeans and thongs: everyone seems to fit in.

The service team is also a mixed bunch of young and old and they do a good job of guiding guests throughout the evening and ensuring that the experience is a good one. There is very little for one to quibble about: an observation however that the slick silver service standards are not completely universal across all staff. Skimming the place over with a fine toothcomb I did notice expensive wine being poured at a nearby table with the label being covered during service and without twisting at the end resulting in drippage. Little things that could be perfected amongst all staff, particularly when most are getting it right. Credit must also be paid for the rather impeccable timing with the wait staff personalising service and ensuring a leisurely dining experience with each course arriving at just the right moment: something that I appreciate is not always easy to control.

Moving onto the food there is much to be said. The menu reads very well and everything I tried certainly lived up to my expectations. Throughout the evening warm crusty bread rolls and good olive oil are provided, and to whet the palette a refreshing ceviche is offered as an amuse, which showcases the kitchens ability to meld fresh flavours together with a light touch.
Amuse Bouche: Salmon and Marron ceviche, with fresh blood orange and salmon pearls.

Onto entrees I decide upon one of the lighter sounding options: a spanner crab tortellini assortment, which does not disappoint. On the plate we have a perfect tortelli cylinder filled with a smooth spanner crab farce, coupled with two plump scallops, the freshness of which cannot be understated along with some steamed greens, salmon pearls, fresh lemon balm (a subtle mint-like herb) and a light crayfish scented foam. The plate is finished with a light lemon oil that provides another flavour dimension to the dish and a slight tangy contrast. Highly successful.
Spanner Crab Tortellini, seared scallops, crayfish air and baby lemon balm ($24).
To drink: 2007 Sancerre Le Pierrier – Loire Valley ($14/gl)

For mains The Point has a good variety of meat and seafood, but it is the selection of steaks that they are most famous for. At the upstairs entrance to the dining room a display case exists, showcasing each of the beef cuts on offer for the diners' inspection. They all look great and with an individual choice proving tough I opt for the Beef Tasting plate, which provides a generous sampling of five of their best. The top of the plate houses Grade 8 300-day grain fed wagyu porterhouse slices from Yambinya, NSW. The wagyu has been finished with a sweet red wine jus and is topped with some fried onion crisps. The unmistakable meatiness and gelatinous texture of wagyu immediately comes across and it is amongst some of the best I have tried; cooked and rested to a perfect medium rare.
Across the plate lie four other cuts of beef. From left to right sit: pasture fed eye fillet from King Island and porterhouse from Longford, Tasmania then grain fed eye fillet and porterhouse from Yambinya. Each of the cuts has its own flavour and texture. The eye fillet with its amazing tenderness and the porterhouse with its distinct meaty flavour. As an observation I am somewhat surprised that the grain fed beef proves superior to the pasture fed. The colour, flavour and tenderness all reign supreme; particularly with the porterhouse, where the grass fed cut lacks the robust flavour and softer texture of its grain fed counterpart. The beef is served with a small presentation of crisp coleslaw topped with a julienne of fried black seaweed, as well as a syrupy red wine jus, and a selection of mustards, which I do not deem necessary. I am urged to try each of the different cuts on their own before pouring on the jus. This is an excellent way to compare the differences of each portion and appreciate the true flavour of the meat. On its own the beef was slightly under seasoned but a small grinding of salt perfected that. To accompany my steak I am offered a French pinot as a wine matching: going with a lighter style to enable one to better taste the differences between the steaks without overwhelming the tastebuds with a heavier style: definitely a good idea. Needless to say, I enjoyed the entire selection and I am congratulated on my accomplishment at the end of the journey.
For the quality and serving of steak on offer the pricing is very reasonable, particularly given the inclusion of such high grade wagyu on the plate.
Beef Tasting Plate: individual portions of wagyu, grain and pasture fed beef ($49).
To drink: 2005 Joseph Drouhin Rully Rouge – Burgundy ($18/gl)

A crisp, cos based (Caesar-like) salad proves itself a good side dish.
Baby gem lettuce, crisp pancetta, white anchovies and charred sourdough ($9).

After dinner a refreshing amuse guele follows.
Pineapple jelly with pina colada sorbet. Sublime.

After this feast I don't really have room for dessert but am determined to try one of the enticing options before parting. After a sufficient gap, enabling my stomach to settle, my waiter recommends ordering something I haven't had in a while. He mentions that his wife is French and that she loves the tart tatin, finding it as good as those she has experienced at home. With this sought of endorsement I cannot say no and am sure glad that I didn't. There is a noticeable French technique amongst much of the cooking, particularly in the deserts department and whilst I cannot personally compare it to the real thing in France, the tart tatin was definitely the best dessert I have had in some time. A sensational flaky crust with soft apples, sticky caramel and a creamy, spiced ice cream melting away alongside the light as a feather vanilla espuma; both of which make perfect accompaniments. To go with dessert I am also provided with an obligatory pouring of sauternes - a gesture I am most thankful for.
Apple tart Tatin, star anise and cinnamon ice cream, praline crumbs and vanilla espumas ($18).
To drink: 2005 Romieu Lacoste Sauternes

To conclude the journey I enjoy an invigorating ginger and lemongrass tisane before parting ways with The Point until next time. I enjoyed every moment of the dining experience and believe this is a restaurant that probably isn’t receiving the credit that it deserves, somehow being overlooked for a hat in this years’ Age Good Food Guide.

The Point received a score of 14.5 out of 20 in the 2009 Age Good Food Guide.

MY RATING: 16.5/20 - Food: 8.5/10 Service: 4/5 Ambience: 4/5

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  posted at 7:40 AM  

At September 27, 2008 at 11:10 PM, Blogger Agnes said...

Looks and sounds like an amazing meal! Interesting that you haven't been the only person lately who's said that the Point is being under rated.

At September 30, 2008 at 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My recent meal at the Point was a preset menu for a food and wine organization. I suspect we would have had a better meal if it had been a la carte. There were a few failures which, on this occassion, made this less than a one hat experience

At November 28, 2008 at 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently enjoyed the Express Lunch - two delicious courses and a glass of wine for $30. I have to agree that the service, menu and atmosphere are second to none. Love the fresh, seasonal produce that Scott Pickett (the Exec. Chef) focuses on too.

At January 15, 2009 at 11:12 AM, Blogger KittyMeow said...

I have been once to the Point and while the food was perfect, there were some let downs. This was some time ago so things might have changed since then (2 years)

First off, I didn't much like that there were only about 2 wines around the $50 mark. Especially seeing a Sorrenberg Gamay that retails at $40 in the shops at almost $100 at the restaurant. I know restaurants do put a lot of markup on wines, but this I felt was a bit obscene. Considering also that their wine list is quite extensive, a little more evenly balanced prices would have been nicer. And I don't think I am being a cheapskate in saying that, bearing in mind the markup. Other restaurants I've been to in the same price (for food) bracket have had a much broader spectrum of wine options.

I also didn't like the fact that we were seated more than 5 minutes before being asked for a drink. My reply "can we please have the wine list before we decide?"...We hadn't even been brought water at this stage. I am sure this was just a mistake but it struck me as a bit odd.

So overall, I dont think the quality of the food made up for the slightly negative vibe I got from dining there.

At June 29, 2010 at 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite looking forward to dining here after a great brunch experience last year, our meal was very disappointing.

The Coffin Bay oysters (both natural and Rockefeller) were big and tough, and tasted more like mussels than oysters. Each one took quite a chew to get down. Unlike any other Coffin Bay oysters I've had, which I usually love.

My medium-rare Wagyu porterhouse special was tough beyond belief. My partner's was the same. Only about 1cm thick, it was crisped on the outside and pink-red in the middle as you would expect, but the meat itself was chewy and sinuey throughout. In the end I had to send it back. They replaced it with an eye fillet which was pleasant but nothing amazing.

On the upside, the service was excellent (although it was a quiet Monday night), wine assistance spot on and the view and atmosphere great.


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