Sunday, 22 September 2013

Spoonbill

637 Chapel Street 
South Yarra, VIC

This is a bad idea. In a valiant effort to cram into as much into my greedy stomach as possible, I had foolishly double booked. So now, after having stuffed my face with a sandwich the length of my arm for lunch, I was facing a 6 course meal with matching wines at Spoonbill less than 5 hours later. Spoiler alert: my stomach expanded to massive proportions and hurt from the amount of food that I had forced it to contain. 



Spoonbill is actually associated with the esteemed Art Series boutique hotels, and whilst I admit I have my hang-ups over snobby, stiff hotel restaurants, Spoonbill was actually nothing like that. After being greeted jovially by staff behind the curved bar near the entrance, we were guided into a dining room that was both stylish and cosy. I could’ve very well worn my dinosaur shirt if I had so wished. 




The 6 Course Sharing Menu ($65pp) with Matching Wines ($25pp) works a bit differently from your usual degustation. Unlike other restaurants which have a set menu, Spoonbill allows you to mix and match from the sharing menu to your heart’s content. Hungry? Have 6 mains if you want. Sweet tooth? One entree and 5 desserts coming up! 



Because of this more free-form version of the degustation however, it meant that wines are harder to match. This problem was overcome by offering the diners a couple of wines to choose from with each course, and a moscato with dessert. And because Chris doesn’t drink wine, the waiter generously offered to pour me a glass of BOTH wines with every course instead. I was rather tipsy by the end but, the boutique wines were worth every stumble on the sidewalk. 


Laurent-Perrier Champagne, Maison Fondee 1812


But first! Each diner partaking in the sharing menu received a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne, Maison Fondee 1812. The crisp citrus and honey flavours were very enjoyable, accompanied by a large platter of bread and olive oil. 


Salumi Plate

Because of our huge lunch, we had decided on 3 entrees, one main, and 2 desserts. The first of our entrees was the Salumi Plate, a smorgasbord of cured meats and pickles. Being freshly sliced, the jamon, salami, and bresola were pliant and silky, pairing well with the mild, sweet cheddar. 


Queensland King Prawns

Our second entree was the Queensland King Prawns, a pair of crustaceans peeled and char-grilled, resting on ribbons on spicy cabbage salad. The prawns were smoky, plump, and incredibly sweet. Best of all, our lovely waiter fetched me a finger bowl halfway through, encouraging me to pick the prawns apart – the way they’re meant to be eaten. 


Gamekeeper's Sausage

Our last entree was the Gamekeeper’s Sausage. Despite not looking like much, this was absolutely delicious. The sausage pieces were peppery and rustically coarse, and went extremely well with the Spanish black bean sauce that was sweet almost like a jam. Funnily enough though, what got me the most was the bed of enoki mushrooms. Being a type of mushroom that I associate with Asian food, I had never known how heavenly the fresh, slippery strands could be, when sautéed with generous amounts of butter.

To go with our entrees, we had a choice of two different boutique whites – John Kosovich Bottle Aged Reserve Swan Valley Chenin Blanc 2007, and Ros Ritchie Dead Man’s Hill Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2012. And thus began my love affair with the grape. The Chenin Blanc was a light, fruity drop, very good with our salumi plate. The Gewurztraminer on the other hand, was like nothing I’ve ever drank. Instead of bright notes of fruit and floral, this wine had an earthy, chocolate-like quality to it, and was very enjoyable. 


John Olsen’s Famous Paella

John Olsen’s Famous Paella

We were doing quite well up until now, but it was halfway through our main, John Olsen’s Famous Paella, that we hit a wall. It was a fiesta of the ocean, the perfectly cooked mussels plump and creamy, and the broad selection of seafood infusing the fluffy rice with its juices. It wasn’t your traditional paella with the crusty base, but it was a mighty tasty variation. 


Witlof Salad

All the mains were served with sides of Witlof Salad and Broccoli. I really liked the witlof salad, the mixture of syrupy sweet pears, bitter rocket, and mild blue cheese was a classic dance of flavours. The broccoli fared less well, being undercooked and quite flavourless. 


Dandelions Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz/The Lane Block 2 Pinot Gris

To go with our main, we had a choice between a red and a white. Whilst the Dandelions Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz, despite having a very pretty name, didn’t go too well with the paella (though still very delicious with its juicy, bold flavours), the The Lane Block 2 Pinot Gris was sweet, crisp, and a perfect accompaniment to seafood.


Hazelnut Meringue

My stomach had started to hurt at this point, but there was no way I was turning down the Hazelnut Meringue, a beehive of sugar and cream, roasted hazelnuts and espresso syrup. The meringue was light and crisp, and absolutely heavenly with the cool coffee cream. 


Poached Pear

Our final dessert was thankfully quite small. The Poached Pear was a showcase of ginger, the sticky pear (poached in moscato and cider) augmented with intense ginger syrup, tangy ginger brittle, and a cool, herbal ginger ice cream. Thank goodness we didn’t order the chocolate indulgence instead.

It would be extremely remiss of me to not mention the accompanying Lake Breeze Moscato 2011, which was arguably the best dessert of them all. The lightly sparkling dessert wine was delicate with a strong personality, the aromas of tropical fruits and orange blossom absolutely intoxicating. To quote our waiter, ‘you could put a straw in it’. 

If it isn’t painfully obvious by now, I really, really enjoyed Spoonbill. Not that the food was revolutionary but, $65 for 6 courses of delicious food really isn’t half bad. I especially love the range of boutique wines they had, and the handful that I sampled has me keen to come back to try some more. Skip the pretention, try Spoonbill.

Rating: 15.5/20 – spoon. mouth. repeat.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Spoonbill. 

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