The end of a year always brings a chance to look back at the year that was, and to publish a million and one ‘Best of’ lists.
Along with some other great Melbourne food bloggers and Twitter friends over at Sharking for Chips and Drinks I shared my top Melbourne dishes of 2012.
My top Melbourne dishes of 2012
(with some honourable mentions, and my top dishes from my Sydney trips)
- Rockwell & Sons
Fried chicken meal on Wednesdays.This is the kind of fried chicken that you lie awake at night thinking about- crispy batter which melts into tender, juicy meat. Accompanying the chicken are the best biscuits you’ve ever eaten; soft and delicate inside with a flaky, buttery crust. Made with Myrtleford buttermilk these biscuits are magnificent towers and beg to be torn into. The “mac and cheese” is rich and moreish without being overpowering, and the coleslaw is lively, with a light creaminess. On this occasion the other sides, which change week to week, were grilled asparagus with that sweet char, and pickled vegetables which brought the palate alive amongst the rich dishes.
- Pei Modern
Dutch cream potatoes with mojama and bone marrow.Dutch cream potatoes and luscious bone marrow sunk in a pool of decadent potato foam and dusted with mojama (dried, cured tuna) and coffee. This dish is sinfully delicious and begs to be savoured; perfect proof that a few perfect ingredients can deliver an overwhelming experience.
- Crabapple Kitchen
Myrtleford buttermilk pancakes with banana, salted peanut praline, whipped Mascarpone & pure Canadian maple syrup.The Myrtleford buttermilk pancakes is set to be one of their signature dishes. The crunch of salted peanut praline offers a counterpart to the soft milky pancakes, littered with chunks of banana, and the creamy tang of whipped mascarpone balances with the sweet maple syrup.
- Chin Chin
Twice cooked Hopkins River beef short rib with coriander & prik nahm pla.Beef short ribs seem to be one of the cuts du jour, popping up on menus everywhere (competing for space with lamb shoulder!). Chin Chin’s version is the best I’ve had this year, meltingly tender but with the moreish richness being balanced by the coriander and zingy prik nahm pla sauce.
(Photo thanks to the blog Off the Spork, who takes beautiful photos)
- Burch and Purchese
Rose, Apple and Beetroot Crumble (from their dessert nights).A great balance of taste and texture: crumb, beetroot sponge, rose cream and jelly, crystallised rose petal. The sweetness was kept in check by the acidity coming from the pickled apple, fizzy apple sorbet and yoghurt elements.
- Brooks of Melbourne
Chicken parfait, rye bread pillows, blackcurrant jam
(almost every dish here is a winner, but this is a perfect reinvention of a dish that appears on almost every menu at the moment).A luxurious parfait ensconced in a delicate shell of rye bread, with a glistening pearl of blackcurrant jam on top, beg to be savoured with a glass of wine. It’s not hard to see that they’re going to become a firm fixture on the menu, the perfect bar snack to accompany an after-work drink.
- Ladro and Baby Café & Pizzeria (it’s a tie!)
‘Funghi’ pizza.Ladro: It’s hard to beat the pizzas at Ladro, for me their crust is the perfect balance between crispy and pillowy. Their mushroom pizza is simple, yet delicious, and always top of my list to order.Baby: A pizza with mushrooms just begs for me to order it, and the ‘Funghi’ was one of the best I’ve tried. An abundance of cheesy goodness with buffalo taleggio and fior di latte, sauteed wild mushrooms and thyme; it was nice to see a selection of real wild mushrooms.
(‘Funghi’ pizza from Baby)
Flinders Island Wallaby, Bunya Pine, Ground Berry; tied with their Kumara, Almond & Pyegana.Attica always wows me with their dishes, and it’s hard to nominate the ‘best’ dish when dining there.
The classic ‘Attica’ dish for me this year was the wallaby, pushing boundaries with the lean, and slightly gamey, meat balanced by the pine flavour.
In terms of sheer enjoyment their salt-baked kumara (sweet potato) with the texture of almond, soft egg yolk and rich pyegana cream sauce won hands down.
- Lau’s Family Kitchen
I could list the entire menu, highlights are: Singapore-style prawns, beef brisket, ma po tofu, rice noodle rolls.For me Lau’s is as much about the service and whole experience as it is about the food. That’s not to discount the food though, which is always perfectly cooked and balanced. Prawns are moist and tender, with Singapore-style chili sauce; the beef brisket is flaking with a rich sauce; eye fillet is stir-fried medium-rare with slivers of garlic and ginger… you get the idea, every dish is delicious.
- Union Dining
Shared Sunday lunch (changes every week, highlights have been: confit duck with lentils; prawn salad with broad beans and ricotta).They’re the kind of simple yet delicious plates that you would happily eat all day, every day. Each of them a perfect journey of flavour and texture, where each component sings in harmony and becomes a celebration of the season. A salad of sweet prawn and fresh spring broad beans balances with the salty creaminess of ricotta and the crunch of crispy onions and seeds with a dusting of dukkah spice.
- The Sharing House
Wagyu short rib, truffle jus, braised celery.Slow-cooked wagyu short rib, flaking with a gentle nudge of the knife and with a rich buttery flavour, complimented by the earthy truffle jus, and the braised celery adding that clean note through the dish.
Quince Paste Cigar with Whipped Buffalo Milk Cheese (although it’s hard to go past their Slowly Braised Beef Cheek in Pedro Ximenez on Cauliflower Puree).MoVida is one of those places that you can guarantee leaving satisfied. Their quince paste cigars are cylinders of semi-dried quince paste filled with silky, salty cheese; a wonderful balance of texture and flavour. A permanent fixture on their menu is the beef cheek, slow cooked until it melts in the mouth, with enough sweetness and depth from the pedro ximenez sauce, served with a rich, silky cauliflower puree.
- Easy Tiger
Hot & sour fish curry with snake beans & siamese watercress.Easy Tiger serves up perfectly balanced Thai food, and their hot and sour fish curry nails the Thai balance of sweet, salt, sour and chili perfectly. It’s one of those simple dishes that makes your tastebuds feel alive.
Top Sydney dishes of 2012
- Momofuku Seiōbo
Spanner crab, miso, panko.The miso is smooth and creamy, with a gentle flavour that does not overpower the delicate crab, and the fried panko adds a much needed textural element. This was my favourite dish, simple but perfectly executed, and shows the restraint of the chefs when balancing flavours.
Chicken Wing, Parfait, Crispy Tortilla and Apple Chutney.A moreish treat of a deboned chicken wing, sitting atop rich, smooth chicken liver parfait. Apple chutney cuts through the richness of the dish, and a crispy tortilla adds that element of crunch and texture.
- Billy Kwong
Wok-Fried Rice Noodle Rolls with Braised Biodynamic Beef & Black Beans.Normally you see rice noodle rolls steamed, with that gelatinous texture that you love or hate, but here they’re fried to give a crisp texture on the outside, that melts into the comforting softness of slow-braised brisket inside. The spring onions and micro-herbs give an element of sweetness and freshness to cut through the beef.
Those are my highlights of 2012, get in touch via comments or Twitter and let me know yours.
See you all in 2013 for more great food.