I am very excited, because I am a member of the newly formed The Restaurant Club. Once every one or two months, The Restaurant Club will meet at a different restaurant to enjoy some fine food, wine and conversation, with members of the Club to choose the venue alternately.
Our first event was at Ezard in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. On Friday nights, you can get three courses for $95, and this was the option we chose, as many of us did not feel able to tackle the 8 course degustation menu ($120).
I arrived early, so while waiting in the lounge, I managed to down two glasses of the 2004 Winstead Blanc de Noirs - a very fine sparkling indeed. Ezard is dimly lit, so at that stage, I could quite comfortably have curled up for a kip on the lounge.
When everyone arrived, we were seated at our table, and each given a slice of soft white bread to enjoy with the garlic and rosemary infused oil and these fine condiments:
From left to right, they are dashi salt (with seaweed and fish flakes); chilli palm sugar (it sounds weird, but this was my favourite - sweet then hot on the tongue and absolutely devine); and salt and Szechuan pepper.
We were then served an amuse bouche of a garlic prawn (forgive the terrible photo - the lighting was dim and I hadn't mastered my iPhone camera yet):
Next came entree. I chose the five spiced bangalow sweet pork belly with celeriac and apple remoulade and mustard sauce:
OMG - this was devine, and perhaps my favourite dish of the night. I was a bit worried about having pork belly for entree in case it was heavy and filling, but it barely touched the sides. The gloriously cooked pork was thinly sliced so that it was as light as a feather on the stomach, and the combination of apple and mustard with the pork was a dream come true.
For main, I chose the pan fried john dory with cauliflower cream, roasted jerusalem artichokes, seared scallop, farmed osetra caviar and chive oil (also pictured at the top of this post):
The foam that you can see is the cauliflower cream, and the top photo more clearly shows the scallop and caviar (which were hiding under the garnish). This dish did not strike such a strong chord with me - I found the cauliflower cream too rich for my liking, and the dish did not sit as well with me as the pork. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for fish - next time, I would be keen to try the caramelised pork hock that one of my colleagues tried, as that looked magnificent. (Of course, I then would not have pork belly for entree!)
Finally, out came the desserts - and as I exclaimed at the time, they were awesome! My pick was the duo of pear and caramel parfait, passionfruit syrup and salted popcorn, topped with pashmak:
The icecream in the parfait was a little firm, but the overall taste combination was fabulous, and the addition of the salted popcorn was inspired.
A colleague was recommended the fromage frais cheesecake with a tuile, sago pearls and rhubarb sorbet, and topped with vermicelli:
The "frogs eggs" are the sago pearls, and I am told that this dessert was fantastic.
A number of Club members chose the honeycrunch icecream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl:
It looks pretty spectacular and won a unanimous tick of approval from those who chose it.
Our meal was accompanied by red wine (I didn't choose it so I don't know what it was).
The service was very efficient, knowledgeable and courteous, with one of the Club members taking quite a fancy to our waiter.
All in all, we had a fantastic evening that more that justified the price of the meal. For a special occasion or whenever you feel like a splurge, Ezard is a fantastic venue to dine at.
187 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Ph: +61 3 9639 6811