HOT: The Age Good Food Guide 2012 Winners!

GFG2012 HOT: The Age Good Food Guide 2012 Winners!

The winners of The Age Good Food Guide 2012 Awards were announced last night. Here is the complete list of winners, some with my previous reviews – congratulations!

Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year – Attica

Citibank Chef of the Year – Dan Hunter, Royal Mail Hotel

Regional Restaurant of the year – Loam

Best New Regional Restaurant – Mr Carsisi

Plumm Wine Glasses Best New Restaurant – Golden Fields

The Age Young Chef of the Year – Josh Murphy, Cumulus Inc

Champagne Louis Roederer Sommelier of the Year – Bengt Baumgartner, The European

Virgin Australia Service Excellence Award – Jason Lui, Flower Drum

Professional Excellence – Neil Perry

Dimmi Award for Innovation – TOYS Collective

Epicure Sustainability Award –  Maurice Esposito, Esposito at Toofey’s and Saint Peter’s

Donlevy Fitzpatrick Award – Gerald’s Bar

Dan Murphy’s BYO Restaurant of the Year – Osteria La Passione

Samsung Diners’ Choice Award – Cutler & Co

Vittoria Coffee Legend Award – Philippe Mouchel, PM 24

Best Short Wine List – Merricote

Regional Wine List of the Year – Lake House, Daylesford

Brown Brothers Wine List of the Year – Spice Temple

Lucky Beer Dish of the Year –  Barbecue Spare Ribs, Dandelion

The book, apps (from Samsung apps and iTunes) and goodguides.com.au website will be available from 30 August.

Here’s the list of 2011’s winners.

HOT: The Age Good Food Guide 2011 Winners!

good food guide 2011 200x300 HOT: The Age Good Food Guide 2011 Winners!When I first moved to Melbourne, the first couple of books I bought for my new life were:

1. The Age Good Food Guide;

2. The Age Cheap Eats; and

3. A Melways.

In a way, you could say that my priorities haven’t changed much since then – the hunt for good food is a never-ending adventure for me.

So I’m quite excited that I’ve managed to visit many of this year’s winners in The Age Good Food Guide 2011 Awards. Here is the complete list of winners, some with my previous reviews – congratulations!

Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year – Royal Mail Hotel

Emirates Chef of the Year – Ben Shewry, Attica

Plumm Wine Glasses Best New Restaurant – Izakaya Den

Country Wine List of the Year – Provenance in Beechworth

Best New Country Restaurant – Loam (it’s on the to-do list!)

Navman Country Restaurant of the Year – Tearooms of Yarck

Epicure Professional Excellence Award – Paul Wilson

Dan Murphy’s BYO Restaurant of the Year – Scopri

Chamagne Louis Roederer Sommelier of the Year – David Lawler, Rockpool Bar & Grill.

Best Short Wine List belongs – City Wine Shop

Brown Brothers Wine List of the Year – Rockpool Bar & Grill

The Age Young Chef of the Year – Michael Fox, Cecconi’s Cantina

Dish of the year – Suckling Pig at Loam

Diners’ Choice Award –Vue de monde

Service Excellence – Verge and Izakaya Den‘s Simon Denton

You can buy your copy of The Age Good Food Guide 2011 from 31 August here.

HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Most of my friends are pretty keen foodies, and amongst my closest posse we’ve developed a tradition to spend an inordinate amount of money on birthday dinners*. Kind of a gift for the birthday boy/girl that gifts our appetites at the same time.

To continue the tradition we made a birthday date to sample the $140 degustation at Attica ($130 on weeknights, $75 for experimentation Tuesdays). Attica is in an interesting locale – Ripponlea is hardly the hot spot for fine dining in Melbourne and the restaurant is part of an unremarkable strip of high street shops on Glen Eira Road. The sleek but understated décor inside also belies the inventive, highly technical and often surprising food coming out of Ben Shewry’s kitchen.

P1030764v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

To start, an amuse bouche of….oh dear, for the life of me I can’t remember what this was, maybe prawn? Unfortunately the photo makes it look very unappetising. Moving quickly along….

P1030766v1 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Some springy bread, excellent butter, olives, a neat lineup of surprisingly flavoursome almonds and a demitasse of smoked whipped olive oil. The last of these was deceptive – I slathered it on my bread like pate but it quickly dissolved into the warm bread, so then I slathered on some more until I remembered that it was all oil (albeit with irresistible smokey flavours).

And now, our dishes in order plus the jury’s verdict on each of them.

P1030769v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Snow crab. A fabulous dish of surprises which contained bursts of hot and cold in each mouthful. The wisps of horseradish dissolved into nothingness on the tongue, leaving just the burn and flavour.  In T’s view the horseradish was overpowering and he thought the chef was obsessed with the ingredient as it appeared in multiple dishes on the night. I happen to like horseradish and disagree with his view.

P1030773v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Young peas, grains and natural juices. For me the miniature peas skimming the puddle of green liquid tasted like a wheat grass shot solidified into pellets. Frankly we wondered at the effort to outcome ratio – it seemed like a lot of effort for a dish that none of us particularly liked.

P1030777v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

A simple dish of potato cooked in the earth it was grown. We were quite impressed when we were informed that the innocuous looking potato presented before us had been cooked for thirteen hours in a manner similar to a Polynesian hungi – so it was a combination of a roasted and steamed potato. Well, what can I say, it was a perfectly cooked potato but nothing miraculous. If you’d told me that you’d wrapped it in aluminium foil and bunged it in the oven I probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference. You can put that down to my unrefined, uneducated palate for thirteen hour potatoes. The dish was accompanied by crispy saltbush leaves and a sprinkling of coconut husk ash which T disliked, saying ‘I don’t think I approve of charcoal as an ingredient – no matter what it comes from.’

P1030780v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Bass groper, chorizo, smoked jasmine flowers. The dish was delicate and meaty at the same time and I particularly liked the fact that you could still smell the delicate fragrance of jasmine through the heady waft of smokiness. Dish of the night for 1 of our 5 panellists.

P1030786v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Beef, sour milk jam, dandelion salt, asparagus. An absolutely melt in your mouth cut of wagyu beef accompanied by an imperceptible salt flavoured with dandelion.

P1030789v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Pork loin, morcilla, wild fennel pollen. This was the first time I’d ever had morcilla (black pudding) – congealed blood is not high on my list of eating desires. However, this version was covered in black sesame seeds which lent a crunch to the rich and full-flavoured morcilla (and actually made the flavour of the pork pale in comparison). I can’t say I’m completely won over by morcilla but if you hadn’t told me what it was then I would have been happily eating more.

P1030792v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Almond rice cream, mango, sesame, raspberries. Dish of the night for 2 of our 5 panellists. I actually can’t remember too much about it!

P1030797v11 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Violet crumble. A deconstructed childhood favourite – smoothly pastel violet fromage frais, chocolate dust, honeycomb bedded together by a slick of caramel in a stemless Riedel wineglass. Dish of the night for 2 of our 5 panellists.

P1030800v1 HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

To finish, some pretty jewelled little pineapple jellies.

The panel’s overall conclusion? We were all glad we tried Attica once and some of dishes were outstanding while others, such as the potato, had us wondering what higher meaning we were missing. We all agreed that for around the same price we preferred the not-a-false-note degustation at Cutler & Co. In fact, our perfect fine dining meal in Melbourne would be savoury dishes of Cutler & Co and the desserts and more affordable wine list of Attica.

You can read more reviews at Melbourne Gastronome, Eating Melbourne and Absolutely Famished.

*If you’re interested, here are some write-ups of our previous Extremely Expensive Birthday Meals at The Fat Duck, Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley (formerly Petrus), The Ledbury and The Greenhouse. Lots of Michelin stars!

minilink HOT: Attica, 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea