Albert Street Food and wine
With new restaurants, I generally keep to a watch-and-wait for a couple of months before I dine policy, to let them iron out all the nooks and crannies, *ahem, unless of course I get invited to the launch in which case I brave it out. I failed to follow this policy on this occasion, as I had long since been craving Philippa Sibley’s creations back when she was at Il Fornaio.
It has since been several months now since I’ve been … and so here’s what I thought.
Heirloom Carrot soup, vin santo, scallops – Kaleidoscope of subtle flavours of creamy, velvety carrot sweetness which you could easily mistake for pumpkin, hints of beautiful savoury and butter, and bouyant bites of scallop. It was sublime! I may have just made the biggest claim so far this year in saying this heirloom carrot soup is my favourite of 2012 so far.
Spaghettini, prawns, charred corn, black garlic, green chilli – Philippa’s rendition of this seafood spaghettini reminds me quite a lot of the one at the Atlantic (minus the moreton bay bugs of course). Pasta is al dente with a thin mist of olive oil infused with herby elements, chargrilled corn to add a little bittersweet intensity, and shredded prawns. Delicate and clean dish.
Roasted rump of lamb, soft polenta, melted tomatoes, olives, marjoram – this was probably the least memorable of the dishes. Though the rump was juicy, it was a tad too fatty without too much inspiring intensity. The polenta surrendered itself with a graininess which I found unpleasant against my palate.
Philippa’s friendly lettuce salad – white balsamic vinegar based.
Tiramisu – following suit with Philippa’s previous deconstructions, this rendition presents as a tri-phase dessert. A dangerously bitter-acidic espresso shot, a sweet but highly alcoholic hit of spongy cake and chocolate, and scoop of vanilla ice cream. Any one of these things eaten alone may well have been overwhelming or underwhelming, but taken together the polar opposite ends of caffeine hit, sweet cream, and alcoholic tang makes for a beautiful marriage on a plate.
Pistachio panna cotta, berries, nuts – The smooth and creamy pistachio panna cotta atop a crunchy short base was undoubtedly delicious and would normally bring a smile to my lips, but to follow the previous crescendo, it seemed neither here nor there. To combat the velvety cream, soft bites of cherry, slight crunches of blackberry / blueberry with a hint of ripened alcohol were paired.
Rating: Yummy+1.5. Philippa’s tiramisu and heirloom carrot soup are the clear winners here. This place could easily have been revelling with a Yummy+2, but lacks in consistency across the dishes with some highs and lows.
The staff were very friendly, attentive, with sense of humour. Food came at a good pace.
[Albert St Food and Wine]
Where: 382 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Contact: 03 8354 6600
Here’s another photo of the Heirloom carrot soup… that’s how much I liked it!