Melbourne’s food scene is constantly evolving and in recent times we have seen many trends come and go such as the Mexican trend we previously had and a shifts towards more casual dining. This has then sparked the discussion of whether fine dining is becoming obsolete. As part of The Age Good Food Month, The Point’s Executive Chef, Justin Wise has teamed up with Luke Croston from Gazi to host a ‘Is Fine Dining Finished?’ dinner next Tuesday (26th November).
I was very lucky to be invited to the preview dinner held on Monday at The Point in Albert Park. I’ve heard many good things about the point, but haven’t had the chance to dine there especially on such a beautiful day!
We headed up to the second floor where the restaurant was and I kid you not this was the stunning view we had 🙂 Not a cloud in the sky, wasn’t too hot or cold it was just perfect!
We started the wonderful night with a Karpouzi Kup one of the signature cocktails from Gazi with Aperol, Jin, lemon juice, soda water and some mint. It’s a very light tasting drink and made me forget all the annoying things that happened at work that day.
We then moved inside to the private dining room where we were surrounded by an abundance of wine bottles. The first two dishes we tried were from Gazi (George Calombaris new restaurant) and the first was the Soft Shell crab souvlakakia, it had freshly fried crab with a honey and lemon mayonnaise wrapped in a thick pita bread. This is by far the fanciest souvalakia I have had and it was wonderful!
The next was the beef brisket souvlakakia with tender and succulent beef pieces, chips, aioli and a little parsley another really delicious souvalakia. These two dishes definitely represent what casual dining has become in Melbourne lately, modern takes on traditional dishes or interesting filling in breads, buns or rolls that are not commonly used.
It was then time to switch to the fine dining part of the dinner, and that included warm bread and butter. During dinner we were discussing that these all the little things that you get at fine dining such as the white table clothes, the nice cutlery and fresh bread that accentuates the whole dining experience.
The entree was a pan seared foie gras, pear and walnut. A simple and elegant dish that used a luxury product. I am a fan of foie gras, I simply love the richness and smoothness from it. I took a small bite and knew my sister Win Win would love this dish so much! The slight tartness from the pear also helped cut through some of the richness of the foie gras.
Our main was a more traditional fine dining dish Macleay Valley rabbit, guanciale, pithivier and broad beans. I have only recently started eating rabbit, and this is probably the first time I have had so many parts of rabbit in the same dish. In many aspect I found rabbit meat to resemble a similar texture as chicken meat with a slightly gamey flavour.
Out of all the components of the dish, the pithivier was my favourite as it had what I assume to be a rabbit meat filling, the puff pastry was buttery and flakey while the filling was warm and comforting. It may not be one of the dishes that I would personally order, but I think that’s another aspect fine dining offers to diners, and that is the chance to try something using more unique ingredients or methods of cooking.
Dessert was once again provided by Gazi which was a Mastic musk stick and loukoumades (Greek donuts) with a honey syrup and sunflower seeds. The loukoumade was similar to the ones they serve at Jimmy Grants but I find these to be lighter and the syrup wasn’t as sweet, while the sunflowers gave it some nuttiness and texture. I have never been a fan of musk sticks but it did bring back old memories, Thanh and Shellie were talking about how milk bars use to sell these type of lollies for 1c or 2c 🙂
Back to fine dining and that is the meal always ends with Petit Fours and you bet it’s one of my favourite ways to end a meal. A warm inviting cup of tea and some sweets to nibble on. The jelly which I think was elderflower was delightful, while the shortbread and chocolates were addictive.
After such an interesting meal and all the discussions we’ve had, I have come to the conclusion that there is a place and time for all types of dining. For a Tuesday night dinner, I may prefer to go to a casual restaurant where the atmosphere is more casual and relaxed, food arrives quickly and not too expensive. However, if it’s for a special occasion such as an anniversary, wedding or birthday I would like to dine at a nicer restaurant with better service, ambience and not have to scream across the table to talk to each other 😛 So no I don’t think fine dining is finished, it may not be as ‘trendy’ as it once was, but I believe there will also be a place for them in the market and especially in the ever changing food scene here in Melbourne.
If you would also like to participate in this discussion and try the dishes I did, please visit The Point website and book your seats now.