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After just one bite of the delectable Valrhona chocolate tart at this year’s Taste of Melbourne festival, K and I were intent on experiencing the rest of what Albert Street Food & Wine had to offer. Despite the third of our trio being absent on the day of the festival, Dr. V has also had her eyes on AFS&W for some time and so a booking for three was made for dinner.
We arrived to a very full restaurant (the last shot of an emptier restaurant was taken at the end of the night) and was seated at the bar for approximately 10 minutes before our table was available. The interior was sharp, trendy and was very much like the other big players in the restaurant industry. The lights dimmed as night fell and were it not for the lively and chattery atmosphere, dinner over the candlelight would’ve been somewhat romantic. Oh, provided you’re here on a date of course and not with your gal pals!
Coffee and Napoleone & Co Apple Cider.
Complimentary bread with basil+olive oil whipped butter.
First you break it (a piece off the bread that is). Then you dip it, into the butter. And then you eat it! The texture of the butter was sensational - light, fluffy, airy and like a mousse. The basil flavour was instant and it’s amazing what the inclusion of one herb can do. GREAT with the fresh sourdough bread.
Albert St special pizza - roasted peppers, pork & fennel sausage, and smoked mozzarella.
We ordered the pizza to share between the three of us as an entree. The minimal sauce on the pizza’s edge allowed us to really appreciate the dough’s light flavour. Its crispiness made it more enjoyable. Moving towards the centre of the pizza, the flavours from the thick tomato paste, capsicum and melted mozzarella matched perfectly with the distinctive pork and fennel. Encountered infrequently, the strong flavours from the sausage pieces were well-distributed.
On another note, the base was quite easy to cut through, which was a welcome relief to my knife-weilding hand that was already sporting a callus from a previous difficult cutting experience.
The bread came out at 5 to 9, the entrees came out 10 minutes later (quick) but the mains took significantly longer. Normally conversation will usually tide us over whilst we wait for our food and as carried away as we were with our catch up this time around, the 30 minute-plus wait was quite noticeable.
John Dory - with cauliflower, and mussels a la Grecque.
I never thought I’d see the day when I would order a fish dish as my main but it looks like that day may be right around the corner. It didn’t happen on this occasion as my mind didn’t even stop to read the description for the John Dory. Instead K had ordered it and after trying a few bites, I was impressed. And surprised. The skin had been fried to a crispy perfection and the flesh was tender and very well-cooked. The accompanying sweet cauliflower puree and sour tomato based sauce brought out the natural flavours of the fish through a contrast. The mussels however did not taste fresh and the unpleasant ‘seafood taste’ was particularly potent, continuing my hate affair with mussels. Blegh!
Spaghettini - with prawns, charred corn, black garlic, and green chilli.
The texture of the pasta was spot-on, but the point became moot when my taste buds continued to be bombarded with overly salty flavouring. Saltiness aside, the green chilli provided a lingering spice that worked well with the other ingredients. Corn kernel encounters were very distinct and they resulted in juicy bursts of sweet flavour that countered the spiciness. Minus the saltiness, this would have been one tasty dish. Although, excess salt certainly does not appear in the dish’s description so perhaps this was just a once off.
Crumbed pork scotch - with awesome slaw, Dijon and apple.
The mention of ‘awesome slaw’ enticed me into ordering this dish. The slaw turned out to be mostly sour and occasionally sweet, probably from the presence of apple strips. The slaw was not so awesome when eaten solo and required the bland crumbs of the pork to balance out the sharp flavours. The pork itself was a little too thick and chewy at times for my liking. On another note, we were all taken by the presentation of the dish. Much like how the flavours from the pork balanced with that of the slaw, the colours from each component also paired with one another perfectly.
The Goldie Hawn dessert left much to our imagination but the real deal still left us in awe. It featured meringue shards with mango and ginger sorbet, fresh mango pieces and crystallised rose petals. Word of advice: eat the meringue shards quick or separate them from the moist sorbet; they become soggy quick and less tasty when they lose the crispiness. Uncommon to most desserts, the ginger flavour was quite different but the oaky taste was pleasant and enhanced the mango presence.
Pannacotta “Peachy Keen”.
With no description, our taste buds were again unaware of the tasty treat we were about to experience with this dessert. The delicate and wobbly lime panna cotta was presented with a jelly layer on top and a shortbread base. Like the mango dessert, the fruitiness and lightness of both desserts made them very enjoyable to eat despite harbouring a full stomach. Heck, a full stomach wouldn’t have stopped me from eating my share (and possibly more) of the desserts we had ordered.
While not all the dishes lived up to the expectations set in my mind thanks to the high standards set by the chocolate tart, the very few negative aspects of our meal were easily forgotten by the highs of our savoury selections and the perfection that came in the form of both desserts. From our food tasting adventures at the Taste festival and during this occasion, great-tasting dessert seems to be a constant when it comes to AFS&W. With another five desserts to try on their current menu and many more desserts that will come with seasonal changes in their menu, future visits are inevitable.
Albert Street Food & Wine.
382 Sydney Road,
Brunswick, Victoria, 3056.
(03) 8354 6600