Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Aylesbury Restaurant & Rooftop

Location: 103 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9077 0451
Cuisine: Spanish

Another Melbourne trip, another foodie adventure with V. This time, we were headed to the newly opened Aylesbury, before the foodie crowds got wind of the place.

The menu (not available online) is a simple one. It simply lists two or three of the key ingredients, and doesn't give away how it is going to be cooked, or what else it might have. If asked, the waiters are able to give you a detailed description. Otherwise, the not-knowing makes dining tapas style that little bit more exciting.

complimentary bread and olive oil
Unlike Legends, the Aylesbury (as with all good tapas places) served complimentary bread from the start, and continued to top it up a few times during the meal.

Wagyu, bone marrow, morcilla
The Spanish definitely know their charcuterie. Thin slices of cured wagyu were served with small nuggets of bone marrow and a sprinkling of morcilla (blood sausage). The wagyu had an intense saltiness but with a delicate smokiness. The saltiness was nicely offset with the creamy bone marrow. Not the biggest fan of blood sausage, I was glad the morcilla was subtle and not overpowering. Everything was then topped with fried breadcrumbs and edible flowers, to add another dimension of flavour to the already flavour-packed dish.

Prawn, corn and coriander
A beautiful combination of flavours - the prawns were well seasoned, and deep fried to the point where the entire prawn could be eaten, shell and all. The sweet corn puree worked brilliantly as a sweet and creamy contrast tot he crunch of the prawns. The coriander added that final freshness and bound all the flavours together. 

Lamb ribs, pea & lemon
The lamb ribs were a hit. The fatty parts were well seasoned and rendered to produce a slightly crispy coating. Definitely needed the lemon to cut through the fattiness of the lamb though.

Sous vide Aylesbury duck with beetroot puree and dehydrated beetroot
Our 'large' dish for the night was the Aylesbury duck. The duck was beautifully cooked, retaining its slight gaminess and cooking juices, and appeared to have been finished off in a pan to produce a nice crispy skin. Beetroot and duck pair so well together, and the puree added a fresh sweet contrast to the duck. The dehydrated beetroot packed a punch, with an intense flavour condensed into powder form.

Pink fur potatoes, duck fat
These were no ordinary chips or wedges. Duck fat just seems to make everything taste so much better. Delicately seasoned and a sprinkling of fresh herbs just rounded out the meal.

Citrus: Montenegro pannacotta, fruit salad with tuile, grapefruit sorbet
And then who could go past dessert? Having read about this dish on MoMo & Coco's Dessert Correspondence, and then hearing our waiter's description, we couldn't go past it.

Just as well I had read that blog, because our waiter also failed to mention the order in which to eat the various components of the dessert. We followed the advice by MoMo and Coco and started with the grapefruit sorbet and worked our way through the salad and finally the pannacotta. 

Fresh and zingy, the sorbet was definitely a palate cleanser, and really enticed us to move onto the next component. The fruit salad was fresh, nothing extraordinary (it was simply pieces of fresh fruit). The tuile passed the 'snap' test and added a nice crunchy texture to the salad. And then there was the pannacotta. It was beautifully smooth and creamy, I was looking for something extra in terms of flavour - as a stronger flavour wouldn't have gone amiss. (Although, I should probably disclose that my standard for a 'good' pannacotta has gone up ridiculously since I had Sarti's pistachio pannacotta with salted caramel popcorn, so I may be a little biased.)

Service was fast and friendly. Perhaps a little too fast. One thing I've learnt from tapas style eating is that it works best when the dishes come out one after the other, degustation style. Instead, the prawns arrived before we were even halfway through the wagyu, and the lamb arrived shortly after the prawns. The unfortunate result was a choice between eating a bit of everything all at the same time, or letting the dishes cool down as we worked our way through them.

And to finish the meal, we headed upstairs to the rooftop bar for a drink. There was a nice atmosphere, which was quite pleasant. Not the biggest range of cocktails, but some pretty decent ciders and a very extensive wine list.

Overall Impression: 9.5/10
The Aylesbury on Urbanspoon

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