Never having had a degustation dinning experience before, my boyfriend and I thought we would start big! Ezard are known as one of the best in Melbourne so we thought why not!
Ezard is one of the many restaurants found on Flinders Lane. Following the small ‘Ezard’ sign we took the stone stairs downwards. As we got to the door, a dark stylish room greeted us, with quiet chatter filling the air. The long thin restaurant features seating all down the left hand side with a walkway out to the kitchen along the right. We were greeted by a friendly waitress who seated us at a cozy table for two.
Already having decided on the degustation menu, we told the waitress we would be having two degustation menus with matched wines. We waited excitedly for the evening’s events with a glass of sparkling.
Now, about to eat an 8-course fine dinning degustation, the bread should not really excite. Yet at Ezard, it is a little difficult to not be impressed. Fresh sourdough is served with Ezards own parmesan, garlic and rosemary infused oil and three different dipping herbs. This oil was amazing, some of the most beautifully flavoured dipping oils I have ever tasted. The dipping herbs were, according to the waitress a taste of the flavours on the menu. They were sugar and garlic, Szechuan pepper and finally nori and bonito. The garlic and sugar started with a sweet sensation and followed with a powerful kick of garlic and heat. This was a fun and exciting taste sensation to kick off the evening.
Anyway, I should get to the menu! For each course, we were given information and descriptions of both the food and the matching wine, with details of why they were paired together.
The first course, a Japanese Inspired Osyter Shooter was paired with a 2010 Sake. Never having tried oysters or sake I was a little hesitant. The oyster came in a sake broth and was followed with a green tea nori roll. No fault of the restaurant, I did find out I’m not a fan of either oysters or Sake! My boyfriend however who is said it was delicious.
The second course, Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi, bonito pannacotta, sticky soy, horseradish aioli and wasabi foam and was served with a beautiful and light NV Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, Reims, Champagne. This dish was beautifully delicate and expertly executed. The sashimi was like butter and the wasabi foam was intense in flavour. The champagne was a divine match.
To follow was the Steamed Blue Swimmer Crab Dumpling with Soy butter, Crispy taro and Mint Salad. This was served with a 2009 grace gris de kashu, Katsunuma, Japan, a beautiful white wine. This dumpling was definitely one of my favorite dishes. It was a perfectly cooked steamed dumplings packed with strong crab flavours topped with a crisp contrast and an amazing sauce. I wanted this one to go on for much longer!!
The fourth course was Crispy Fried White Polenta with sautéed mushrooms, peas, poached egg, shaved black truffle and soft herbs. This was served with a 10 year old henriques & Henriques Sercial Madeira, Portugal. This dish was delicious. The polenta was crisp and the mushrooms matched perfectly. It was served in a strong broth to bring out the flavours. The wine match was exciting, as I had never had dry Madeira before. I would love to taste another dry Madeira having experienced it here.
Course five was the Steamed Mulloway, sesame noodles, shimeju mushrooms, fried chilli sambal, plum wine dressing. This was served with a 2009 bass phillip gamay from Gippsland Victoria. I do have to admit, this was the least stand out dish for me. The fish was cooked beautifully as expected and the flavours were all complementary, but as a big fish eater it wasn’t as different as many of the other dishes I tasted.
Course six was Five Spiced Bangalow Sweet Pork Belly with yellow bean and peanut dressing, and apple slaw salad. This was served with a 2008 Felsina Berargenga Chianti Classico from Tuscany. As someone who thought I didn’t like pork, I was looking forward to trying this dish. I am officially a port convert. It was delicious and tender and the sauce that accompanied it was so creamy.
For ‘main’ we had the choice of either a roast duck or a wagyu beef steak. I chose the Chinese Roast Duck, Green Chilli and Oyster Sauce dressing with Coconut Rice and Asian Greens. This was served with the classic combination a 2008 by Farr Farrside Pinot Noir from Geelong Victoria. While I may sound like a broken record, this was again delicious. The coconut rice was creamy and cooked to perfection and the duck was tender and flavoursome and the dressing accompanied the dish wonderfully.
Finally, we came to dessert. It was a Bittersweet Chocolate Torte, five spiced cumquats and praline ice cream and this was served with a 1982 toro albala don gran reserva pedro ximenez from Montilla-Moriles, Spain. The chocolate torte was rich and delicious, and the praline ice cream was the perfect combination. The cumquats however were very tart and strong and ill admit, a little too much for my liking.
All in all, the food here is incredible, the flavours are expertly matched and they are executed with skill and flare. The degustation experience allowed us to try a vast array of tastes that Ezard has to offer and we were not disappointed. I do have to say that eight matched wines were a little too much for me. Next time I try a degustation I would opt for no matching wine. Having said that the matches were perfect, unexpected and exciting and I’m glad I get to experience them all.
I would highly recommend Ezard for either the degustation or their standard menu.
For more information:
187 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9639 6811