The last time the little darling and I came to Amuse, we were treated to a degustation like none other were the simplest of ingredients were turned into something extraordinary. Hoping to relive our beautiful experience with our friends, we decided to have our last gathering for the year at Amuse.
Considering how much praises I had for them in my last visit, I will not dwell too much on each dish served but instead mentioned the high and lows for the night.
A “snack” of cured meat was not even half as satisfying as the bone marrow tubes the little darling and I had before. It was rather unfortunate that the cured meat did not benefit from the curing as is did not pack the natural flavors that usually mellows with the meat but this still carried a porky stench.
Sweet potato crisps with sour cream was probably one of the nicer snacks along with the crackers topped with rosemary powder and edible flowers!
Tasmanian trout with dill and mustard on top of a thin layer of crisp was not as good as my previous visit because the crisp had turned soggy at the bottom.
Appetizers:Ceviche of blue ridge marron, poached marron claw, compressed melons and cucumber. This for me was an appetizer not worthy of the Amuse household. Its mediocre ceviche was served lukewarm making it feel as if the marrons have started turning bad. Definitely a low especially when my friend got mild food poisoning later that morning.
Asparagus, green and white was a showcase of how one can do so much with so little. Beautiful white asparagus was poached in pecorino oil while the green asparagus was shaved with its harder outer layer turned into ash and sprinkled on top pecorino cream. To finish off was an asparagus soup which was delish. This dish was not one of strong taste but rather a subtle sweetness of the asparagus.
The obligatory half boiled runny egg served smoking in a jar. Inside was a serve of egg, mushrooms, pine nuts and salty treat of crisp chicken skin. Slurps!! This dish was voted the top “HOT” dish in Australia which was on par with a dish produced by Quay in Sydney!
Cuttlefish, pork and nettles. This for me was one of the best dishes we had that night surpassing the mediocre cuttlefish dish I had in my first visit at Amuse! This beautifully composed dish was cooked spot on, topped with spicy crisps and sat on top of a salsa Verde which had more than 25 ingredients including chopped sausages. It was delicious. I enjoyed every bit of this dish as it was just the perfect pairing of ingredients although some might argue that the salsa Verde was a little too salty.
Rabbit, carrot and buttermilk sounds like the perfect Bugs Bunny story but this fell a little short of my expectations. I loved the bit of the rabbit wrapped in silver beet cooked sous vide as it was super soft and tender but the other rabbit strip loin felt like corned meat and was really salty. Perhaps it was meant to be corned but I must have missed that part of the description.
But for me, the best bit of the night would have to be the duck course which was absolutely spot on in terms of cooking. The duck was perfectly cooked I can guarantee, while the buckwheat provided a textural element with the grilled corn providing an earthy yet very delicious flavor when paired up with the gamey meat!! Broccoletti though, felt as if it was there because mom says greens are good for you.
Desserts:Jersey cream, berries and rhubarb! In an attempt to re-make a typical ice cream, Amuse has whipped up chill cream making it extremely light without losing it creaminess before topping the lot with rhubarb! Put in a small jar on the side is a small compote consisting of grilled strawberries, crystallized blood orange and berries making this dessert delicious! The fruits were a mix of sweet ripened ones and sour berries which provided different levels of sweetness in this dessert. I like this quite a fair bit despite its simplicity!
Our final dessert course before the petit fours is a course of chocolate, wattle and honey comb. But do not be fooled, the chocolate here is no conventional chocolate but instead been served in a form of jelly. While some might consider that special, I have never taken a liking to having my chocolate in the form of a jelly as there is no sense of creaminess in doing so. All you get is a mild bitterness in it. Other component were nice with a little liquid nitrogen play in freezing the ice cream so that it melts in your mouth. But the unfortunate story is the bit where the little ice cream bits still take a little too long reach that state of creaminess and very often it is down your throat before it happens. For me, this could have been a lot better.
After the sweet finish, we were serve complimentary tea and treatsPineapple jubes, sugared berries and half dipped tangerines were a very poor ending to the night. Not really sure is this the intention of Amuse but the execution of the start and end was really poor. For me, if Amuse was a person, the his/her image is totally tarnished. The start and the end if really all that counts where outcome matters. For me, Amuse has failed in this aspect. The half dipped tangerine felt like Koko Black rip offs while the jubes have not improved from when I had it before. Even the berries looked childishly prepared.
Coming from a place like Amuse and a degustation menu which had increase in price, I certainly expected more from the kitchen. On the bright side, the middle courses have certainly improved. The cuttlefish was a shining start along with the perfectly prepared duck. Unfortunately, the only saving grace were the savory menu. The dessert bits were a tad of disappointment which quickly escalated to a large disappointment with the chocolate course.
Was this a failure by the kitchen? For me, I would like to think not as every degustation is an experiment. However, my friend have a different dining definition and for him, a degustation is where the chef’s skills and imagination should be stretched to the limit. If you have the definition of the latter, my dining at Amuse which totaled to over a $1000 tonight was by means a failure which only have a 6.5/11 approval for which a point was given to dishes I liked and 0.5 points where applicable. For a meal that cost $130 per person, one would definitely have expected more.