Ezard was the recipient of the Age Good Food Guide Diner’s Choice award for 2012. I’d heard EK and WJL raving about how good it was when they went for the vegetarian degustation. Of course I had to try it for myself.
A few (about 10) people from work came along for the ride – we had to make the group booking well in advance, and it was set menu only (for groups of 8 or more): $105 for 3 courses, including sides, tea and coffee.
I wasn’t sure why the 3 course fixed price menu, normally $98, was more expensive with a group booking...
Now, I was unfortunately super-full already, even before I’d arrived for dinner, having attended a wedding in the daytime, and eating at the reception...which I thought was going to be a lunch... but which only started at 4.30pm...Anyhoo, despite the mix-up, I couldn’t pass up Ezard.
Good thing my dress was loose enough to fit in 2 dinners...
The venue was underground, and quite dimly lit.
Service was impeccable – the staff were polite and courteous, taking away our coats and bags on arrival (and we had a lot of bags, as everyone had brought along Christmas gifts for KK). They never pressured us to order more drinks, nor did they rush us to order, even though a couple of us were about 45 minutes late...
Our bread came accompanied by olive oil and a trio of salts:
Sea salt, chilli salt, and wakame seaweed with bonito flakes
They were interesting, but a tad too salty for my tastes.
For our 3 courses, we were allowed to pick from a limited choice a la carte menu.
Steamed blue swimmer crab dumplings with yarra valley salmon roe, celery cress and tom kha
Slow cooked bangalow pork belly, apple pudding, fennel, celeriac and calvados jus
There was also a beetroot salad and seared Canadian scallops which I didn’t quite manage to get a decent photo of...
Steamed mulloway, sichuan spiced tofu, baby corn, oyster mushrooms, black bean, chilli and soy mirin dressing
Handmade potato gnocchi, manchego, dried olive, cauliflower, raisins and toasted brioche crumble
Chinese style roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and asian greens
Black angus beef, potato terrine, garlic and red wine jam, mushroom soil, bordelaise jus
Black russian tomato salad, persian feta, basil oil, micro cress
Fried kipfler potatoes with roasted garlic and rosemary
Honeycrunch ice cream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl
Fromage frais and strawberry cheesecake, basil pearls, lime syrup and champagne sorbet
Salted caramel parfait, chocolate peanut butter crunch, pressed paw paw and blackberry syrup
My sincere apologies for the poor quality photographs – the lights were dim and I only had my iphone camera.
Standouts were the potato gnocchi (which was divinely creamy), and salted caramel parfait (which I’d polished off, despite being super-full at this point). I was disappointed with my pork belly entree – it was fatty and lacked crispiness; the apple and fennel salad was excellent, the hero of that dish.
My main was the steamed mulloway, which was tasty but not memorable; it arrived accompanied by Sichuan spiced tofu, which was rather different and provided another dimension to the dish, which I enjoyed.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the strawberry cheesecake dessert; having grown up in an Asian family, I’m not easily impressed by basil pearls – we used to drink it all the time in the summer.
On the whole, it was quite a special dining experience. I look forward to coming back to try the 8 course degustation.
Ratings (based on my own experience, on this occasion):
Food – 8 / 10
Service – 9 / 10
Value for money – 8 / 10
OVERALL CONSENSUS: 4 bags (out of 5)