A few weeks ago, it was Nathan’s birthday and, as we had friends visiting from Christchurch, it seemed fitting to take them to one of Melbournes best restaurants (and one of Nathans favourites!). Ezard is located on Flinders Lane, next door to the Adelphi hotel it is tucked away below the street.
The restaurant interior is dimly lit, with a minimal sleek design and we are greeted warmly before being seated near the kitchen. We were soon served complimentary bread and oil with Szechuan pepper, chilli and lime sugar, and nori with bonito flakes, dashi and toasted sesame seed. The oil is infused with rosemary and parmesan and out of this world in terms of flavour. Seriously, I could have eaten that bread all night.
We opted for the degustation menu, and let me start by saying that though the courses appear small, they are packed with flavour and you will leave feeling more than satisfied.
Our first course is the Japanese inspired oyster shooter with cucumber, apple and yuzu. The liquid has the perfect umami flavour which goes well with the silkiness of the oyster. There is wasabi in the liquid which adds a slight kick at the end. It opened my taste buds and was the ideal first course dish.
The next course is another cold one, consisting of tuna sashimi, wasabi, pickled cucumber, sticky soy, sesame and bonito mayonnaise, crisp rice noodles. The tuna was wonderfully flavoured and melted in the mouth. The addition of crispy noodles added texture to the fresh oiliness of the fish.
A steamed spanner crab dumpling with Yarra Valley salmon roe, chervil, coconut tom kha follows and is still the dish that stands out in my mid two weeks later. The dumpling is soft and cooked well, while the broth is sweet with many different levels of flavour but still beautifully delicate, the salmon roe adds a pop of saltiness that compliments the dish well.
A salad of of black fig and pickled beetroot, whipped goats curd, air dried beef, shallot and nut oil dressing is the perfect next course as it light but still well flavoured. The vinergariness of the pickled beetroot cuts through the richness and oiliness of the air dried beef and the goats cheese finished it off well.
The steamed mulloway with rice noodles, japanese plum wine dressing, asian mushrooms, baby corn, fried chilli sambal arrives in a beautifully fragrant broth that doesn’t disappoint on the flavour front and we all finish it quite quickly.
Our final savoury dish is a chinese style duck breast, massaman curry, coconut rice, melon, asian herb salad. I had the duck on a previous visit and knew that it was a great dish, so I was looking forward to having it again. The duck was fantastically pink and the gaminess of the meat went well with the spice from the massaman curry sauce. Slightly sweet and sticky coconut rice added a coolness to the heat from the massaman curry and the asian herb salad added freshness and crunch.
We finish with the dessert tasting plate, as past experiences at Ezard have taught me to not miss out as they are beautiful. The tasting plate was a great idea as we were able to sample a little bit of everything, with the chestnut and yuzu semifreddo, caramel popcorn, chocolate moss being the standout for me.