If, after my first visit back in 2009 I was smitten, I think after my second trip there on Saturday, I was more than a little enamoured with the wonder that is Restaurant Amuse.
I had been looking forward to GG and my night there since I’d booked it several months prior – a necessity with a place like this given its ever increasing popularity. I felt like all day I was smiling, knowing, expecting that I would be as equally blown away by the dining experience as I was last time. Hard sometimes to place such high expectations on an establishment but I felt that Amuse wouldn’t let me down.
So frocked up in my favourite black dress – which has been my outfit of choice for fine dining experiences this year – and with GG looking super suave in the shirt I got him for his birthday, we jumped in the car and headed to Bronte Street.
I struck me again when we arrived how entirely unassuming the front of Amuse is. Almost just blends into the houses and high rise units along the street. But then you walk inside. Smiling staff greeted us and took us straight to our seat. We were offered water straight way (still, sparkling or tap) and offered a pre-dinner drinks menu. We decided we’d go with a glass of bubbles – Ninth Island Sparkling from Tasmania – delightful drop and sensational way to start a fancy night out.
So as we sat sipping our champagne we perused the room. It had changed slightly since our last visit. It was definitely lighter and the music seemed louder. All worked though, quite subtle décor – white chairs, with tables with perfect white linen table clothes, with some nice bright pictures on the walls. We arrived just before 7pm and there weren’t that many other patrons at this time, but within the next half an hour every table was filled.
A friendly waiter came and spoke to us, outlining the elaborate 10-course degustation menu and asking whether we were going to have the matched wines. We certainly were – the ultimate Amuse experience.
Our first course was simply referred to as ‘Snacks’. An innovative mix of of tasty flavours and textures.
They then brought us a basket with slices of white and rye sour dough. Served in a silver bowl with hot stones underneath to keep it warm was a wonderful touch. And the olive oil that came with it – brilliant – and from Western Australia! I must have been rambling on because before I’d even picked up my bread, the next course had arrived. It looked incredibly ornate but I decided before I launched into that I would eat my two slices. The bread was amazing – warm, full of flavour and perfectly crispy. I love bread!
Next the attention turned to the colourful bowl in front of us – crab, finger lime and sea lettuce. A complete taste sensation – wonderful, delicate flavours, perfectly matched with the crisp riesling – really enjoyed it, a subtle introduction to the many, many courses ahead.
Following on from this was a nice, light salad, an entirely interesting combination of beetroot, coffee and cocoa – it worked so well – the sweetness of the beetroot with the occasion hint of coffee. Again a delicious wonder.
Then the joy of seafood – fish, scallop and samphire. What were the green wiggles on top we wondered…. we nibbled on them and the tasted like some kind of plant. This was the samphire we were told and they also made the green sauce underneath. A tasty course – such delectably moist fish, teamed with a sweet scallop. Combined with the artistic shard of cauliflower – so picturesque!
How to top a scallop? Such an indulgent seafood! It’s a hard task, but the pork belly course that followed gave it a red hot go. So well cooked, just melted in your mouth. Pork, skirt and cucumber – again the brief description only hints are the magic of the course. The squid included with the pork dish was an inspired choice. Definitely one of my favourites of the evening. Plus it came with a cheeky Rose’ – was all very pretty in pink!
The next course had us raising our eye brows slightly as it was described – a coddled egg yolk with mushrooms? Would it work? But of course! The yolk created a rich sauce for the different varieties of mushrooms and the crispy parmesan on top made for an interesting mouthful.
Our final savoury course was Lamb, shallots and eggplant. Such a tender piece of meat, still delightfully pink and in a very tasty sauce. Lamb is always a winner and Sam Kekovich would have been very proud of this dish.
Last time we went to Amuse we passed on their impressive range of cheese. While they no longer bring out a cheese trolley, they have a small menu offering a few different cheeses and also dessert wines or port. We passed on the wine option here but decided to try two of the cheeses, which came with quince paste, muscatels, crackers and lavash bread. One was a creamy and salty blue cheese which I adored and the other was a harder cheddar. Also a winner, but hard for me to go past a good blue these days.
After the cheese course, to prepare us for the sweeter side of things, we were given a tall cocktail glass containing a small red pat – which I imagine was the roselle and bitters. Once put on the table, it then had lemonade dramatically poured on top. It’s all a bit theatrical really – I love it! And it tasted amazing! As had everything else so it didn’t come as that much of a surprise that I loved this course like I did all the others.
After this, one of the chefs came out and announced it was time for pre-dessert. How entirely brilliant. It’s clear what many of my meals have been missing all these years- pre-dessert. Good times, will have to try an incorporate this into my regular meals during the week…. likely not as glam… perhaps a kitkat before I have an icrecream in a cone….. the mind wanders at the possibilities.
Anyways I digress, predessert was an indulgent combination of Mandarin, guava and passionfruit – topped with spun sugar, it just looked beautiful and tasted even better!
Then our final course was actual dessert – pistachio, chocolate and raspberries – three of my favourite things. Again there were some theatrics with how it was presented, with the pistachio icecream actually frozen in liquid nitrogen so it was scooped from a little bowl into each of ours in nice, little crumbly pieces – very, very cool!
Following this we had the slightest bit of room left to fit our petit fours – a Baileys truffle, marshmallow and I think it was a guava jube. Loved them all! We passed on the option of a tea or coffee here, mainly because we were both feeling quite content after all the courses and the matched wines.
So our epic culinary journey came to an end after a very pleasant 3 or so hours. They called us a taxi, which took no time to arrive and as we drove home it gave us time to rub our very full bellies and reflect on the meal we’d just enjoyed. The service had been brilliant – very polished, knowledgable and attentive without being intrusive. The food is a complete work of art, a tribute to the creative genius of Mr Troy and the wines are a delight. The all important question we both had on our minds though….. was it as good as last time? Did it live up to the memory? Was it still our number one? You bet it was! Queue the next special occasion – I can’t wait to go back!!