I’ve been looking for an opportunity to head back in to Amusé for what seems like forever (especially since lately there’s been unconfirmed rumours its closing its doors in 2017. I’m hoping and praying this isn’t so!). Finally a belated birthday celebration between myself, Bryony and Laura felt like just the thing to send us back into the arms of a new Spring menu.
If you haven’t been to Amuse, it’s something really quite special. Charged at $130 per person for food, Chef Hadleigh Troy and his wife Carolynne have created an incredible experience that immerses you in beautiful flavours, local produce and a fine dining setting that is welcoming and almost ethereal.
While it’s easily our city’s most highly acclaimed restaurant, it’s also one that holds an important place in my heart – it was the first degustation I ever tried.
After a small window of being closed a few weeks, we coincidentally booked on their first night reopened. And just in time to celebrate with Carolynne and Hadleigh the birth of their baby girl – a toast of bubbly was definitely in order.
Perfect to enjoy as our snacks hit the table. Their iconically delicious cheese puff which I’ve enjoyed on an earlier trip there, the chicken skin with cucumber, beetroot and ginger, and the sesame and black garlic. All intricate, bursting with flavour and begging to be gobbled up quickly.
The bread and smoked butter at Amuse is something dreams are made of (and you can have extra at no additional cost!). Crusty on the outside and spongey inside, it comes out warm for the whipped butter to melt in between the cracks and layer up for decadent bite after bite.
After munching our way through more bread than I should probably admit, our first proper dish came out – celeriac, apple, ricotta and cumquat. Light, balanced and textural, it was a great example of how you don’t need meat to have a truly beautiful dish.
I had secretly been hoping we’d see marron on the menu, and my dreams thankfully came true. It was an exquisite dish with marron, buttery tapioca, dashi and watermelon radish. Since Laura was dining gluten free, her tapioca was replaced with buckwheat – and still packed a punch.
The cauliflower with mushroom, pork and mullet roe was rich and comforting; a nod to the chilly winter weather which hasn’t quite left us yet. Slightly charred, meaty and creamy from the mullet roe sauce – it was a surprising combination of flavours and ingredients that was delightful.
Our final two savoury dishes were the lamb with lemon, sage and artichoke, and duck with blood orange, fennel and grapefruit.
The lamb was tender and melt in your mouth, beautifully pink. The artichoke was sliced in fine chips, fried to a crisp for some pieces, and left soft and supple for others. These were some traditional flavour pairings, but executed in a completely different manner.
The duck was a complete palate juxtaposition. Cooked medium-rare, it had a punchy sour twang to each bite, and was lip-smackingly tasty. Definitely one of my favourites for the evening, and an excellent way to mark the transition to the final dishes for the night.
Our pre-dessert dish was a simple scoop of walnut ice-cream with pear and lime. The fruit sherbet underneath was a real star on the plate – zingy and sweet. The ice-cream was more on the savoury side, but there was a nice sticky pear sauce drizzled over the top. A clever palate cleanser that reset my tastebuds back to base to prepare for our dessert.
Described simply as chocolate, buttermilk and verjuice, it was complex and sweet. From the crunchy cakey crumbs, to the pops of verjuice, it elicited a range of reactions from mmmm to oooh sour! It was playful, generous and pushed me over the edge from being sated to ridiculously full.
From laughs to serious conversation, spending time with Laura and Bryony reminded me how lucky I am to have some beautiful friends in my life. And since we were all feeling a bit stretched in the stomach department, it was lovely to finish off sipping on the house mint and pepperberry tea.
We were too full to eat the vanilla and passionfruit petit fours, but I took mine (and Laura’s home) to munch on the next day. Sour passionfruit curd. Soft, subtly sweet marshmallow and the thin chocolate coating. Yes, morning tea the next day was a wonderful treat.
Amuse… there’s not much to say except wow every time I visit here – or even just reminisce over visits gone by. It’s pure magic.