Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: Sabayon

Shop 4
Melbourne Building
West Row
Canberra City

Monday : Friday 12 - 3
Monday : Saturday 6 - 11

Buggles and Squeak decided to head out of town for the weekend to visit Squeak's very good friend, Michelle (of past Funky Deli Cafe fame!). Of course, we did our research to find out where the best place in Canberra was to go for dinner. Sabayon wasn't it..... they were already booked; but Sabayon got a few relatively decent reviews, so we decided to give it a shot.
Sabayon is located in the 'Melbourne' building right in the heart of downtown Canberra. This obviously means it has a real Saturday night vibe about it, but of course there isn't much of a view. On entering the restaurant, it was smaller than expected and (I'll be honest) a little shabby looking. Having said that... our main priority is the food.
To start off wew order a bottle of the Mac Forbes 2008 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir . It was a good drop, (Squeak was particulalrly partial), but I must admit we certainly do not consider ourselves knowledgable on the subject of wine. We either like it, or we don't. We liked this one.

Squeak starts her meal with the Tempura courgette flower filled with Roasted Red Capsicum & Persian fetta, olive tapenade and pumpkin tortellini.  This is a dish that spoke right to many of Squeak's food fetishes.  Olive, persian fetta and zucchini flowers. Unfortunately the strong flavours that promised so much on the menu, did not entirely tranlsate on the tongue. The zucchini flowers were also perhaps a touch oily. It certainly was not an unpleasant dish, and Squeak did like it... but she did feel a little let down.

I, and one of our dining guests (M1 we'll call her), ordered the Crisp Smoked Salmon and dill cigar, Crystal Bay Prawn Beignet, seasoned Avocado, Caper and Lime Aioli. Visually, the dish wasn't exactly as I imagined it, but I tucked in. M1 enjoyed this dish very much, and I did like it.... I just didn't love it. I cannot exactly say what I expected the prawn beignet to be... but seeing as a beignet is a type of donut... I didn't expect the reality to be some deep fried prawns. This is what let the dish down for me. Deep frying prawns detracts from their flavour. The crisp cigar also was just a little wedge of puff pastry all crisped up. Puff pastry is puff pastry, and apart from adding a different texture to the dish, didn't add anything in terms of flavour. The smoked salmon, aioli and caviar was very tasty and the caviar really gave the relatively mild flavour of the salmon a salty punch. For me, the real star of the show, was the seasoned avocado. It was zingy and fresh and really did elevate the dish.

M2 ordered the Basil Infused Sashimi tuna with pickled ginger, cucumber salad and a soy, mustard seed dressing. This dish once again seemed to promise much, but failed to entirely deliver. The basil infusion of the tuna seemed to give the fish a lightly odd flavour, and personally, I think they took liberties with the term 'sashimi'... seeming to mean it more symbolically than literally - the tuna seemed to be sliced far too thickly to truly qualify.  So most of us left the entree round wanting the main meals to impress us more.

Squeak went for the usual beef dish.  On this occasion that meant the Grass fed yearling beef fillet with truffle mash, roasted king brown mushroom, green beans and port wine jus. The fact that the beef was grass fed was certainly a plus for Squeak and it was tender, even if it did veer more towards medium than the requested medium-rare. As I write this, a common thread seems to emerge, and that is the lack of true flavour. There was no real sense of the promised earthy truffle flavour to the mash and the port wine jus was not anywhere as flavoursome as expected. 

The rest of us all ordered the same main meal and that was the Herb crusted Spring lamb rump with porcini and potato galette, French lentils, minted pea crush and red wine jus. The first mouthful of this dish promised much, and the flavour of the minted pea crush really complemented the sweetness of the lamb and the depth of the lentils. I was excited.  The lamb was nicely cooked but, unfortunately, after that first mouthful, the flavours dwindled.

Dessert looms and this was greeted with a mixture of hope and resignation for Squeak and I - hope that the flavours promised on the menu would arrive, and resignation that chances were, they wouldn't. Squeak orders the Creme Brulee that came served with a pink grapefruit  and tuille. I, and M1 order the banana tarte tatin with malted icecream (pictured at top of page) and M2 orders the chocolate pudding with strawberries and persian fairy floss. I'll be honest, the banana tart looked mouthwatering. The caramelisation looked delicious and the ice cream was just starting to send rivulets of creaminess down into the 'treacly' swirl below. Unfortunately, the caramelisation had been taken just that bit too far which meant that the overwhelming flavour that remained was a burnt bitterness. M1 actually didn't finish hers.
Squeak's creme brulee simply didn't have that magical vanilla silkiness that every creme brulee lover craves.  It was too runny. M2's chocolate pudding (accompanied by all manner of other things that we've forgotten) also seemed to fall a little flat. The overwhelming sense of all this food has faded somewhat - and what has remained is the memory of an enjoyable evening with lots of chats and laughs and some 'nice' food. Unfortunately I don't think most restaurants aim for 'nice' - and Squeak and I certainly want more. The menu promised much, but the flavours simply didn't hit the mark.       Buggles

1 comment:

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Herb crusted Spring lamb rump looks great! Nice review.