Oh twitter…you’re like a handsome stranger and a familiar friend all rolled into one. Somehow you tell us so much yet say nothing at all. I love you; it is true.
The lovely twitter introduced me to two wonderful ladies Sofia Levin (@fi_bird) and Veda Gilbert (@thehospo_widow). Twitter saw us bonding over grammar jokes, food envy and a shared list of ‘must-visit’ restaurants. One lazy twitter conversation we decided we should have a blind date at Estelle in Northcote. Circumstances saw us meeting before this event as it may, but that only increased my excitement.
Sunday night came around and off to Estelle we went.
The menu is focused on the degustation; either five, seven or nine courses. There are oysters and charcuterie items you can add, but the real show is the degustation. There are also options to add matching wines. You can choose a classic match or an adventurous match, which our waiter informed us can include matchings like Sake and beer. On this particular occasion we opted for seven courses ($90) with our own choices of wines. It seemed like a good middle ground.
The second we had ordered we were offered an amuse-bouche…or three.
These delicious bites did their job of getting us excited for what was to come. We even found ourselves peering at the table next to us, as they were one course ahead.
Then our first course arrived – ‘Beetroot, orange & ashed goats cheese’
This consisted of beetroots done is three ways including roasted and candied. They surrounded a beautiful ashed goats cheese. The tart beetroot was beautifully paired with the soft and rich goats cheese.
Our second course was – ‘Smoked eel, camomile & carrot’
The strong smoked eel was paired with a creamy sauce, apple juice and celery pieces. Again this was a great paring of textures and flavours. It was delicate and let the eel really be the star of this dish.
On to our third course – ‘Eggplant, soy & sesame’
This was a piece of soft eggplant topped with what the waitress described as a type of ‘Japanese dukkah’ and slices of daikon. The crunch from the dukkah was great with the soft vegetable. There was a subtle creamy sauce, which balanced out the rather tart nature of the dish.
Our fourth course – A Jerusalem artichoke soup with chestnut and quail egg.
This dish was beautiful. The flavoursome and velvety soup was contrasted by the crisp toast, which was topped with shredded chestnut, wagyu and a quail egg.
What felt like the ‘main’ came in course five – Lamb, leek and sweetbreads.
Again this dish nailed the balance of texture and flavour. It was a rich dish of moist lamb, leeks, garlic and crisp sweetbreads. The onion flavours balanced out the rich meat while the crisp sweetbreads added a nice texture difference. This was a beautiful end to the savoury part of the meal.
Our first sweet course came at course six – ‘Ginger rosemary & apple’
The waitress placed a beautiful big white bowl in front of us. She proceeded to pour clear liquid into our bowls at the table. She then told us that this was ‘faux ginger’ and that she wanted us to guess what it really was. The crunchy flesh did indeed taste like ginger. The syrup that she added provided beautiful sweet contrast to the fruit. We guessed it was some sort of pear or apple. I think we decided it was a nashy in the end. Either way it was fantastic and held up nicely to the ginger flavours.
Now I do have to say our final two courses (yes, we were delightfully provided with a cheeky eighth course) were the standouts for me. To say that I am a dessert person may be an understatement. Yet I think they were remarkable regardless of my bias.
Our second sweet dish for the evening was – ‘Sour Cream, pumpkin & salted caramel’
Now this dish was truly something else. A layer of olive oil sponge was topped with salted caramel sauce, pumpkin seeds and frozen sour cream. It was a beautiful coming together of textures and flavours. The pumpkin seeds added the only crunch to the dish and the sour cream added a tart contrast to the sweet caramel. The olive oil sponge was a great backdrop to allow the other flavours to shine without complicating each other. It was pure genius really…
As we were preparing to leave for the evening, we were surprised with an extra dessert course.
Our final course was – ‘Albert’s chocolate garden’
This was a chocolate type crème analgise topped with a combination of ‘chocolate soil’, cocoa nibs, cherries and what tasted like puffed rice. It tasted like crunchy yet smooth chocolate heaven. That is the only way I can describe it. The cocoa nibs kept it bitter and strong while the sauce at the bottom gave it a creamy texture and depth. I think it was at this point that I said, “that was like…the best ending ever”. I was lost for words then, and I can’t seem to find anything better now.
What I can say is that it was the attention to detail at Estelle that really won me over. Every crunch was paired beautifully with something smooth and every strong element was complimented with something soothing. To me it was faultless and that is rare. It was truly one of those experiences that can be described as a journey for the senses. Be surprised, be reassured and come to the end feeling a sense of finale. Your tastebuds are taken on a ride and I assure you, they will enjoy it.