David Bowie and Freddie Mercury paired up to sing the beautiful duet ‘Under Pressure’… it’s super catchy and epic and it builds beautifully. So in a random link to pressure, talk about the pressure for the crew opening their new venue in the space previously occupied by Jacksons. Oh yes, the space synonymous with a perfectly polished degustation of entirely creative flavours and artistic flair. Under pressure indeed. I waited and wondered who would take such bold steps and look to fill these big shoes. And then it was announced. St Michael was moving in. It was to be the inspired joint venture of the teams from Red Cabbage and Petite Mort. Wowser! Talk about fire power in the kitchen! I love both of these places and have visited each on a few delightful occasions. I couldn’t wait to head along to Beaufort Street and try their out their “small plates” menu.
The venue was given a makeover before the doors were swung open and you can tell that in Summer, it is going to have a wonderfully open feel with the bi-fold windows. It’s well lit and has a very funky squid picture stretched along the length of a wall. On another wall there is a beautiful painting of St Michael himself. It has such beautiful colours. Plus there’s an epic light fixture. Had a slightly Game of Thrones feel with its twisted barbed wire arrangement. Then there’s a vast mirror with the day’s tasting menu penned on it. I liked that, afforded them the flexibility to change it up as and when they please. It meant that things could be kept very seasonal. I’m mad for a seasonal menu.
So we arrived on a particularly bleak Tuesday evening, with the rain pelting down on Beaufort Street and were met by a dapper French fellow and shown to our table. They offer either a three dish menu for $49 (where you could add another course for $12) or a 7 course menu for $89. I liked the idea of trying out their 7 courses but it was a Tuesday and it felt slightly lavish, even for this foodie to be spending several hours fine dining. So we checked how long a 7 course menu would take to get through. We were told we could make it take as long as we liked. Ok an hour to an hour and a half felt slightly more Tuesday appropriate. Lock it in Monsieur!
First to arrive was an artistic arrangement of house cured bresaola and fermented vegetables. All prepared in house, it was an interesting premiere dish. Zesty veg and a mild saltiness from the bresaola. I enjoyed it. It was something different and quite a light introduction to just what St Michael’s was dishing up.
While we were enjoying the house cured meat, we were also brought out some slices of fresh baguette and also some crispy baguette. The bread was beautiful but it was the whipped butter that was the star. A delectable, indulgent, uber creamy star and you couldn’t get enough on each slice of bread.
Next up was a really interesting marron dish. The marron had plenty of innate sweetness to its plump pink pieces, and it was paired well with the strong mushroom broth. There was a real richness to the flavour given all that fungi infusion.
I have never been a big fan of cauliflower cheese. But clearly that’s because I’ve never had Chef Adam Sayles version. It’s tremendous! A little bit roasted, a little bit pureed and with a perfect thin slice of manchego melted on top. Oh and then there were a few capers thrown in for some added salt. It was a seriously inventive and delicious way to showcase a cauliflower. I mean the simple and often underappreciated cauli – it’s such an interesting ingredient!
I felt like my taste buds had been kicked into overdrive by the sheer creativity of St Michael’s cauliflower cheese and then came the Lamb Belly and Mandarin. An elegant stack garnished with some slices and the juices of mandarin. I can’t say I had ever tried lamb belly before, but cooked to a rendered perfection it may now be one of my favourite meats. There was such loving, slow cooked attention to draw every morsel of flavour from this meat. And then there was the inspired teaming with the fresh and citrusy mandarin. I knew we still had a few dishes to come but it was going to be hard to knock this off as my favourite dish of the evening. I loved it. GG loved it.
For the next course you actually had your choice of either ocean trout or wagyu. We both opted for the Wagyu Rump Cap, Cherry, Oats, Seeds and Nuts. It was thinly sliced and served on the rarer side but it melted in your mouth. It also had a lovely tart sweetness from the cherries and a great crunch from the oats. Perhaps oats don’t just belong in porridge or muesli after all! There was also an elegant arrangement of nasturtiums. Edible flowers are such a pretty garnish.
Now did someone say cheese? Well they didn’t say it but it was time for the cheese course and as someone who enjoys all things cheese I was excited. And it was a vision. A beautiful, creative, ‘what would these flavours taste like?’ kinda vision. Blue cheese, pumpkin, cheddar, white ganache and pear. The pumpkin had a lovely spiced sweetness, there was the creamy salty blue cheese and then the really delicious inclusion of the rich white chocolate. I loved it. I loved everything about it. It was such a fabulous dish and an absolutely brilliant way to showcase the sheer magic of cheese. I actually wanted to stand up and slow clap the kitchen.
Now to refresh the palate for dessert they served a very refreshing sorbet dish, which included some precious little frozen basil pellets, along with frozen raspberries and a creamy citrus quenelle. I’ve tried to scoop out a quenelle a few times and I haven’t had any luck with it. I think I need to practise more.
I spied parsnip ice-cream on the menu for dessert and wondered well, well, well what will that be like? And you know what, when parsnip is only a very subtle flavour in an ice-cream, it works an absolute treat and is something really different. Then there was the honey. Good honey is just divine and I liked it’s amazing contrast with the creamy, creamy goodness of the root veg ice cream. And then there was this gingerbread sort of cake. One of those great spongey cakes that was feather light and still had a little spice. It was a really lovely dessert and again I was super impressed with the creative genius of the kitchen team. I can honestly say that good food really brings me such joy and there were more than a few dishes in this dining experience that has us both saying wow!
So rock on in to St Michael. Sure 7 courses on a Tuesday is a little lavish, but hey life’s meant for the occasional lavish mid week meal, so get prepped for a 7 course feast!