Read about my visit on opening night here.
I attended Taste of Melbourne for a second time, on the Saturday and this time thanks to SBS Food who also provided me with some crowns to sample a few dishes.
By now you probably would have read all about Taste of Melbourne 2010 and seen a lot of photos of the dishes on offer, but here are mine anyway and what I thought of them. I attended the Saturday lunch session with a group of friends and family, so I didn’t spend as much time looking around at the producers stands as I did spend eating and sitting around talking!
One thing you have to be wary of is planning the dishes you want to try in advance and sticking to a budget or before you know it, you would have spent way too much money!
We saw a few people walking around with what looked like the Vietnamese pork roll, banh mi, and after looking through the menu, I realised it must have been Longrain’s salted western plains pork and prawn sweet roll with pickled vegetables. That sounds a lot more posh than banh mi! The bread roll was nice and soft, but I found the prawns devoid of flavour and the pork was rather thin and chewy.
The scallops from Stokehouse were perfectly done, perhaps a little underdone but I would rather an underdone scallop than an overcooked rubbery one. The lardo (like bacon) was crispy and the gazpacho dressing was a great match for the scallops.
The talk of the day was the bombe dessert, so good that our table went back for seconds! I echo Emma’s comment on my first post and wonder if we can just go there for dessert and get the bombe! It starts with a layer of strawberry sorbet at the bottom, followed by a white chocolate parfait and is encased in a toasted meringue. It must have been frozen solid for it not to turn out a melty mess by the time it was served to the customer. You can see from the burn marks on the plate that each individual slice must have been blow torched before being served.
Melbourne Wine Room & Mr Wolf
Hubby loves seafood and loves a good stew so the Livornese seafood stew caught his eye, even though we didn’t know what Livornese is. Google tells me Livorno is a Tuscan seaport town famous for its fish stew. The seafood stew had a flavoursome broth, along with a generous amount of seafood and little beads which I’m guessing is a form of cous cous.
There were actually two servings of the prawn sausage on the plate but someone ate one before I could take a photo! The sausage reminded me of a Thai fish cake, even though it was supposed to be Calabrian.
Maze Restaurant & Maze Grill
We really enjoyed the seared beef from Maze with the small pieces of shitake mushrooms going well with the dressing and beef.
I love anything salmon, except when it’s over cooked. The salmon from Maze didn’t suffer this fate at all. Instead it was melt in the mouth tender, probably from the high (good) fat content of king salmon. The corn, chorizo and potato salad made a good accompaniment.
The Palace seemed to have a constantly long queue the whole day and deservedly so as the tuna carpaccio and eye fillet were two of the highlight dishes of the event. I actually missed out on trying the wagyu burger, but from reading other bloggers’ reviews, it seems like I didn’t miss much! The tuna carpaccio was delicious with the ginger eschalot dressing and surprisingly went well with the rocket.
I already said how good the eye fillet was from my opening night visit, but I actually thought the piece we got this time around wasn’t as tender as the one I had previously. The others enjoyed it, even someone who doesn’t normally like steak!
Mezzo Bar & Grill
This one of the two restaurants where we tried every one of the three dishes on offer. Who could resist the description of an organic slow braised pork cheek on the menu? It was so tender, falling apart easily with a pull of the fork. I bumped into Mezzo chef Joseph Vargetto and he said they had sold out of something like 650 pork cheeks and had to use some which were reserved for Sunday. I hope they managed to source some more pork cheek for Sunday’s session!
I think someone turned up the oven too high for the batch I got because the pastry on the Silician pastie looks one stage before being burnt. The pastie packed a punch in flavour with a lot of spices, but strangely I couldn’t taste much of the oregano.
I really enjoyed the soft, slightly chewy pasta with a scrumptious cheesy, lemon sauce. A simple dish, but I wanted to go back for seconds.
Libertine & Le Traiteur
The shredded duck had a great taste, but the bread was way too hard for me.
Izakaya Den was the pop-restaurant for Saturday, it’s dishes only available for one day only at Taste of Melbourne. It wasn’t intentional to try all the dishes, but we liked the sound of all of them. The deep fried sweet corn fritters certainly raised a few eyeballs on our journey from Izakaya Den back to our table! The fritters were a bit tasteless and definitely needed the addition of the green tea salt.
The spicy tuna tataki tasted as good as they looked, though I’m not sure where the “spicy” part was supposed to come from. I didn’t find them spicy at all, though the mayonnaise gave quite a kick from the abundance of horseradish!
The white sesame mousse was really good, almost equalling the bombe dessert. The mousse was so light, but with the distinct taste of sesame and the sweet caramel sauce. At first we thought the black rounds were blueberries, but realised they were sago/tapioca. Inside the mousse there was a further surprise with some red bean in the middle.
As always, there are a lot of varying opinions about Taste of Melbourne, but I really enjoyed being able to try a variety of very good dishes in the one place. I much prefer to try little bits of many dishes than sit down to just one large meal. I had no misconceptions about the price or the fact I would be eating off paper plates with plastic cutlery. As long as you are accepting of that in advance, you’ll have as a great a time as I did!
Over & Out, April xx