25 Collins Street
Buggles and Squeak decided to head south and sample the fares of beautiful Melbourne. We had been looking forward to this return visit and were very keen to start eating!
After a trip to Melbourne some years back (and dining at a 2 Chef's Hat restaurant) we were convinced that when it came to food, Sydney had it all over Melbourne.
Our first dinner was at No35, set on the 35th floor of the Sofitel on Collins.
Our trip into the CBD from North Fitzroy was a breeze, thanks to the 112 tram that dropped us off almost right outside the Sofitel. Now that is one thing Melbourne does have all over Sydney....Public Transport.
We enter the lobby of the Sofitel & take the lift up to the 35th floor...
Our table sits at the back of the restaurant with views over the Yarra, Federation Square & Hamer Hall (where a few years back we attended a brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto performance).
The view is amazing, but we decided it wasn't a patch on the view from (the late) Forty One.
The room itself still has that 'hotel restaurant' feel to it.
The menu however, reads very well and we are very much looking forward to our meal.
To kick things off we are presented with an amuse bouche of Roasted almond & cauliflower soup with chicken parfait and cocoa soil. On arrival the fragrance of cauliflower seemed too dominant, but the cauliflower flavour was actually quite subtle. The parfait was silky smooth, moussy and slightly sweet. The cocoa soil was very slightly chocolatey and added bite & texture.
Buggles began with an entree of Kingfish Cerviche with shaved calamari, avocado & ruby grapefruit. This was a very pretty dish. The combination of flavours was well balanced with some sweetness to counteract the acidity. Texturally there was crunch from diced honeydew? and creaminess from the avocado.
I started with Textures of Potato with coddled egg, chicken wing & maple jelly. This dish was sensational. Little cubes of fried potato along with potato puree combining beautifully with sweet cubes of maple jelly. The richness of the egg was cut by the sweetness of the jelly & the chicken wing added some saltiness & bite. I really enjoyed this dish.
Buggles followed up with Roast Venison (fillet, sausage) with local beetroot (roasted, galette & puree), sprout leaves & chocolate. Buggles thought the variety of beetroot was interesting, presenting as sweet, earthy & tart. The venison sausage had a strong, earthy flavour. The venison fillet was not as fully flavoured as the venison from Marque nor as rare...which Buggles prefers. While enjoying certain elements of the dish, I would say Buggles was not completely happy with this dish as a whole.
My main was Rangers Valley 300 day grain fed bavette steak with heirloom carrot (roasted, puree), toasted buckwheat and oxtail.
This was a revelation! The Bavette steak which is usually braised, made for a very tasty steak indeed. It contains a lot of connective tissue, which meant it required more chewing, but it certainly wasn't tough. It had a really nice beefy flavour. A cut that should be used more often.
The steak was topped with wonderful, melting slices of bone marrow & surrounded by the most gloriously sticky oxtail jus which contained crunchy bits of buckwheat, this sat atop a lush, sweet carrot puree. Perfection.
To accompany our mains we ordered the Cauliflower macaroni. This was just the right size portion. It was creamy & hearty, but not big on cauliflower flavour, in fact it was a little cheesy (always a good thing in my books). The crunchy breadcrumbs on top were a welcome addition.
For dessert Buggles ordered the Pastry Chef's creation in progess. This consisted of...Almond sponge under a white chocolate parfait, puff pastry square, chocolate cream, chocolate soil (with salted caramel balls) and pumpkin ice cream. Whew! Buggles said this was absolutely delicious. The white chocolate parfait had a gorgeous flavour & texture, while the chocolate cream reminded Buggles of chocolate Yogo...very good. The chocolate soil was good and the salted caramel bursts a real treat. The pumpkin ice cream was very creamy but had no real pumpkin flavour. The puff pastry square while good for texture, added nothing in terms of flavour.
I went with the Burnt Orange Cream, breton bayleaf, blackened orange and pistachio ice cream.
OMG! Delicious. The burnt orange cream was lush and full of rich, tangy orange flavour... the crunchy, slightly chewy breton bayleaf was the perfect contrast to the cream. The blackened orange was sweet & sticky. While the ice cream was once again very creamy...this one also lacked any definable pistachio flavour.