19/01/2013 - "Feast for the senses"
You always remember your first time. Your first kiss, your first heartbreak, and the first time you had Degustation.
I'm one of those people that was skeptical about Degustation. Questions I would always ask myself was, Would it be any good? Is it worth it? What is it anyway? There was only one way to find out.
Restaurant Two was recommended by family members who were not Degustation virgins, and we all decided to book-in as a group for the January Degustation. Having seen Restaurant Two many times during our adventures to the city, (located on corner of Edward and Alice Street in the heritage-listed Old Mineral House ), it was exciting to finally be able to see this Restaurant for ourselves.
Inside, Restaurant Two conveys a sense of elegance and occasion. Well lit, there appears to be open spaces (not cluttered), minimal decor, and a posh-ness to the place, but it still feels welcoming and comfortable. The dark leather 5 piece lounge set in the centre of the Restaurant was inviting me to just stroll over, sit down, cross my legs, have a glass of whisky and smoke a cigar. This didn't happen of course but in my head it did! To the right, there's a bar, and what appears to be another dining area. To the left of the entrance, there's another dining area upstairs, towards it a bookshelf and a shelf stacked with wines. Perfect! Once you have your fill of food, unbutton your pants, grab a wine, a book and sit on the couch. Maybe later.
We were greeted by a very friendly host who showed us to our table upstairs. Everything is neatly arranged perfectly, fine dining style, the most amount of cutlery I had ever seen, some I'd probably never used! And the large works of art on the wall gives life to the dining space. It seems a little quiet in the entire Restaurant despite an average amount of diners, realising that as a group, we're usually loud and boisterous. The menu is comprehensive, the ten courses described with matching wines. To say we were pretty excited was an understatement.
So how was it? You ask.
According to Wikipedia, Degustation is a culinary term meaning a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company. Dégustation is more likely to involve sampling small portions of all of a chef's signature dishes in one sitting. Or in layman's terms, to give one's taste-buds an erection.
Each of the ten courses was a delight, flavoursome, beautifully presented, the wines matched perfectly. Service was impeccable, and before each course was brought out, the matching wine was poured in each of our glasses and explained as to why it was chosen, and how it would match the food to come. The staff were obviously well drilled in serving degustation as there always seemed to be enough time to pass, before the next course was brought out. The service, quality of food & matched wines, (to put into Manu's words and accent), were "Top Notch". Owner & chef David Pugh, his "right-hand" Glen Barratt and pastry chef Tom Newman have delivered an unforgettable sensory experience. Perhaps the best description of how this degustation tasted, to quote my brother (who is more comfortable at your local take-away): "These figs are figalicious".
Although I loved each course, and yes even the lamb, my favourites would have to be:
Seared Scallops with new potatoes, cauliflower puree, asparagus, porcini vinaigrette. Matched with 2009 Gordon's Hill Chardonnay, Oragne (NSW)
Roasted Rannoch Farm Quail, almond cream, grilled fig, Jamon, black rice, salad leaves, hazelnut dressing. Matched with 2010 Louis Jadot Gamay, Beaujolais Villages (France)
Roast Duck Breast, Cherries, Pak Choi, cracked freekeh, currants and barley, cherry sauce. Matched with 2011 Dutschke "80 Block" Merlot, Barossa Valley (SA)
Citrus Jelly, Caramelized Buttermilk, Eucalyptus and Lychee Yolk. Matched with 2010 Frogmore Creek Ice Reisling, Cambridge (TAS)
Chocolate Textures: Aero, Caramel tuille crumbs, ganache and pistachio cake. Matched with Valdespino Pedro Ximenez (PX) Sherry, Jerez (Espana)
If I had one suggestion for Restaurant Two; Is to add to the atmosphere by making use of the space below, with a grand piano and a pianist playing classic jazz tunes. Maybe I just feel bad for the rest of the diners that evening having to put up with our group getting a little happy!
A great night, one to remember, and if we could afford Degustation on a much more regular basis, we probably would thanks to Restaurant Two.
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