Since those days I’ve eaten quite a few degustation meals, but Amuse always remained strong in my mind. So after obsessing for the past two years, I finally decided to bite the bullet and make a booking one night. Using it as excuse to celebrate my boy successfully completing his first year of a paramedicine degree, I also brought along my mum for her first dego experience. I was counting down the weeks and days until our dinner arrived!
Arriving promptly on time for our booking, we’re taken into the intimate, dimly lit dining area and offered a drink to start off the night. Mum starts off with a gin and tonic ($10.00) while I opt for a berry mocktail ($10.00) since I’ve had so many events lately with alcohol. A liver breather is definitely what I felt was in order. My boy chooses Dr Pilkington’s ‘Miracle Cider’ ($15.00) which is a 500mL bottle from McLaren Vale in South Australia.
My mocktail is incredible – easily one of the most amazing drinks ever. It’s jam packed full of flavour with berries, mint and cranberries. It’s light, sweet and has a nice mint aftertaste to compliment the beautiful berries. I enjoy it so much I get another later on during the meal!
Once we’re settled in and enjoying our drinks, our “snacks” are brought out to the table. One thing I love particularly about Amuse is that while we have the wait staff, each dish is usually presented by one of the chefs so they can talk us through the ingredients, process and expected response when eating it. It’s really quite a wonderful way to see the personalities of those cooking and creating our dishes, but also getting to see their passion for food and culinary innovation.
The first snack we eat is a disc of lightly pickled radish, topped with charred leek ash, roe and what I think from memory was smoked crème fraiche. You can really taste the smokiness and I enjoy the contrast of flavours and textures – what looks so simple is actually quite complex to process. It’s a very tasty start to our meal.
The next snacks that come out are an oat cracker and what they described as ‘baguette’ but reminded me of a fancy pizza shape! It was a crunchy outside, filled with creamy Gruyere cheese and had a nice kick of flavours reminiscent of pizza. I loved it! The oat cracker was really moorish too, paper thin and satisfyingly crunchy.
The final snack is a cold tomato consommé, which is as clear water and smells just incredible. It’s flavoured with spanner crab meat and tarragon, plus a couple drops of shell fish oil. It’s a really delicately sweet dish, which is fresh and light. The presentation is beautiful, though I do find the bowl a little cumbersome for the last few spoonfuls which are somewhat difficult to get out.
Bread and butter are the staple of any degustation in my opinion. It’s a simple way to impress and also fill bellies of the diners. At Amuse the bread is served on hot stones – a slice of sourdough and a slice of rye per person. It comes with house-churned, smoked butter which is light, airy and creamy. As a butter fiend, it definitely gets my tick of approval.
The breads are both lovely, though it’s the rye that I enjoy most. It has a crunchy exterior with a really soft, almost melting centre. I love that it’s served hot so the butter just melts into the surface as if it were toast.
After our bread is finished and our plates/cutlery set up, our first official course for the evening is presented. It’s freshly caught kingfish that’s been cured and then is served with bottarga mayonnaise (bottaraga is salted, cured fish roe), gomasio (unhulled, salted sesame seeds) and guanciale (cured pig’s cheek). The dish is topped with milk skin for a slightly sweet, crisp texture and a buttermilk dressing.
It’s my mum’s favourite dish for the evening and definitely one of the best in my eyes too. There’s something really wondrous about the delicate and fresh fish combined with the salty, fatty and perfectly crunchy guanciale. It definitely gets all my tastebuds firing on all cylinders.
The next dish is a Japanese inspired creation with mushrooms, miso, chicken and rice. There’s a chicken broth poured into the bowl which the rice soaks up to become almost congee like in texture. I love the sprinkling of seaweed and puffed buckwheat (which gives an amazing crunch). The chicken is really juicy and tender, but the mushrooms sadly are way too salty for me. I’m normally a huge fan of mushrooms but on this occasion all three of us found the balance off in this dish.
My favourite dish (and the boy’s) is the next course. It’s Arkady lamb cooked just right with a nice strip of pink running down the centre. It’s topped with pickled cauliflower and strips of crispy potato. Texturally this is as good as it gets, with the soft, tender lamb contrasting well with the crunchy potato. I love the bursts of sourness from the pickled cauliflower and the creaminess from the accompanying sauce. It’s a really clever dish, and definitely lets the produce shine. I particularly loved the crispy salt bush leaves which I thought was a nice nod to local ingredients.
By this time we’re feeling really sated and pleased from the meal so far. It’s funny how slow some meals can seem but this one seemed to fly by! You were never let wondering where the next course was, it was perfectly timed and the staff were all so friendly and expert in their service.
Knowing we’re nearing the end, we can’t help but smile in appreciation at the seemingly simple but delicious sounding pre-dessert. Poached pear sits on a cumquat curd next to a creamy walnut ice-cream, topped with a biscuit looking cumquat meringue disc. It’s so satisfying cracking through it to the seemingly simplistic but tasty ingredients underneath.
Love that Amuse go that extra mile to help celebrate our reason for visiting. Chocolate writing piped on a stone makes for a tasty message indeed!
Our main dessert is chocolate jelly, covered in a chocolate mousse, blood orange parfait, ginger and Geraldton Wax granita, and blood orange sherbet. I am not a big fan of jaffa (chocolate and orange) as a flavour pairing but this dessert was al kinds of right.
There’s a great swing in temperature between the granita, parfait and jelly, plus a zingy smack of citrusy goodness from the sherbet and parfait. I’m not the biggest fan of ginger so I was pleased to see that in this instance they kept it restrained and well balanced to the other ingredients – creating a wonderful dish to finish our evening on.
As our night draws to the end, we marvel over the fact that it’s been over three hours! Time definitely flew by on our visit to Amuse and we’re all feeling full, and ready to wind down at home afterwards since it’s a week night. As if on cue, we’re served the final course for the evening – mint and pepperberry tea and a bowl of vanilla infused desert limes and white chocolate encased lemon curd.
The tea is just what I’d felt like to aid in my digestion and help process the copious amounts of food swirling around inside me. It was actually this tea last time I was at Amuse that brought on a new obsession with mint tea that I still have to do this day.
The desert limes are a really interesting native ingredient that I have to admit I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten before. Served just as they’re picked except infused with vanilla, they have a slightly sour flavour which is very similar to limes. I enjoy them, but my sweet tooth is much more in-tune with the sensationally crisp white chocolate that houses tart, thick lemon curd. What a fun last bite and definitely a great petit four for sure.
There’s a reason why Restaurant Amuse is constantly the talk of the town when it comes to fine dining and degustations. I’ve heard chefs from other cities and countries rave about it, as well as other foodies and bloggers. It’s a place that is exquisite in execution and is so innovative without being pretentious. While it might be on the pricey side of things at $130 per person for food, the finesse and care they place in their dishes makes it well worth it. I’m so happy to see that even after all this time I still love it.