312 Drummon St, Calton
Owners: Nicolas & Tara Poelart
I put out the word for recommendations for a place to have a meal to celebrate the ‘ol wedding anniversary. It needed to be somewhere not too noisy, but relaxed enough not to have dress up to the hilt and take out a small loan to afford it. Essjayeats recommended Embrasse and I admit it had been mentioned to me a few times prior by other people and being relatively close to home a booking was procured.
Embrasse is situated in the old 312 space, if you failed to visit prior, the room can best be described as intimate, low lit and rather stark. I was comfortably seated with cushions in a window seat. We opted for the 5 course degustation menu with matched wines.
We started with a couple of tasting spoons, one of which was a celeriac puree with apple and the other a beetroot puree. The first course was home grown meli melo of vegetables, sprouts, herbs, flowers and emulsions. This was matched with 2004 Mount William Blanc de Blancs – Macedon, VIC. As described on the Embrasse website a lot of the produce is grown by the chef’s in their own plots as well as foraged locally. This course was so beautiful to look at, it really was art on the plate. The flavours are kept very true and simple.
The next course was Kingfish, smoked olives, fresh leaves, nettle juices, white onions served with 2009 Domaine Bruno Sorg Pinot Gris – Alsace, France. The one thing that I will say about Embrasse is that the presentation is outstanding and some of the best I’ve seen. This dish came served covered by a glass dome and when lifted the smell of smoke made us feel exactly like we were around the campfire.
The next course was Braised veal shank, Chinese potato, cabbage, daikon, cauliflower and roasted malt served with 2006 Domaine de Vieux Chene Côte du Rhône Villages ‘Les Seigneurs’ –Rhône, France. Again, I was in love with the presentation, the veal was hidden underneath a cabbage leaf, but unfortunately it didn’t pack the flavour punch I was expecting. The textures and vegetables were all beautifully cooked and presented.
Then there was cheese:
Papillon Rondin – aged sheep’s milk, Bluette – sheep and goat’s milk blue, Douceur du Jura – washed rind all French served with 2008 Mas Amiel – Rousillon, France. I can not tell you how much I loved this cheese course, each cheese was perfect, I particularly enjoyed the Douceur du Jura it was sharp and smooth.
And if all of that wasn’t enough we were then served what I am willing to say was the best dessert I have ever seen and tasted. Chocolate & hazelnut parfait, forest floor, sorrel mint granita served with Chambers Muscadelle – Rutherglen, VIC. Embrasse is not the kind of place I felt comfortable taking photos, but at some point I may do a drawing of this incredible dessert. The parfait is in the shape of a mushroom top with a meringue stalk, it is sitting on the chocolate biscuit crumb “forest floor” with the sorrel mint granita serving as moss and tuille as bark and another biscuit in the shape of a twig. Genius in concept and execution. The flavours and textures are so complimentary. What an incredible way to end the meal.
So, I think Embrasse is intellectual food, it is well conceived and executed and it is clear that the kitchen love and respect the produce they put on the plate. It is beautiful to look at and mostly delivered in terms of flavour. The service was attentive but not obtrusive and the wines did all match perfectly with each course. But man that dessert was a knock out and honestly one of, if not, the best I’ve eaten.