ezard

187 Flinders Lane
Melbourne  VIC  3000
03 9639 6811
Open: Lunch  Mon – Fri;  Dinner   Mon – Sat
Website

I have to let you into a little secret – I believe Teage Ezard is one of Melbourne’s, nay – Australia’s, most amazing chefs.  Reading the blurb inside his first cookbook, I couldn’t agree more with the statement that he creates dishes of startling depth and complexity. His eponymous restaurant has been running for over 12 years and still garners the attention of the most discerning diner.  When I tell people my favourite restaurant is ezard, they either immediately agree or they simply haven’t tried it yet.

His food is drop dead gorgeous, and tends to arrest all conversation upon its presentation. His dishes are both exquisite and explosive at the same time – delicately balanced and layered with complexity. This is food that makes you stop and think, but more than that – it makes you focus all your conscious senses into the pure pleasure of eating. For me, this is as close as it gets to dining nirvana.

One of the many things that sets ezard apart for me is the exemplary service provided by the front of house staff.  I still remember my first dinner there, many years ago now – feeling a little anxious and intimidated because it was my first 2 hatted restaurant experience. But I remember being treated like a princess – well, it was my birthday after all!  But more than that – I was treated royally, but without an air of preciousness or precociousness, there was not a whiff of pretension anywhere. Any anxiety I had was evaporated away by these incredibly warm and service oriented staff, who treated me and my friends to a wonderful experience characterised by a gentle and gracious intimacy. That same ambience is recreated night after night by the wonderful and loyal team ably led by Quentin Ferguson, and continues to be core to the reputation of this fine dining restaurant.

While Teage now has a couple of other restaurants to occupy his time – being Gingerboy in Crossley Street, and his latest venture in Sydney at The Star, Black by ezard – he is still heavily involved in the creation of all dishes at ezard, and personally approves every new dish.  Mind you, there are many classic dishes that have been on the menu for years, such as the amazingly tender and mouth watering pork hock, all of which attest to Teage’s cutting edge and avant garde style that has more than stood the test of time.  Sharn Greiner is his head chef and has been there for seven years now,  entrusted and more than capable, he clearly holds his team to the same exacting standards and manages to deliver dish after dish of gorgeous, mind blowing food to the always full and buzzing restaurant resulting in replete and appreciative diners.

We were fortunate enough to dine there at the last service of the year – so there was a lovely relaxed, and graceful feeling in the air.  The night is always off to a great start when you have a beautifully smooth glass of bubbly, and some of ezard’s bread accompanied by their amazing signature olive oil infused with garlic, rosemary and parmesan – served with their three dipping condiments.

Signature olive oil and 3 condiments

From left to right: nori flakes with bonito and sesame; finely ground rock sugar and chilli; and prickly ash made of wok roasted szechuan pepper and spiced salt. This bread can almost become a course in itself, so you need to be careful not to eat too much, and leave room for everything else – but it’s completely understandable if you do want more! This stuff is addictive!

Next came our amuse bouche –

Seared prawn, papaya salad, squid ink nougatine

This was absolutely delectable – the prawn was lovely and fresh, the papaya salad was zingy, and the squid ink nougatine was an absolute revelation – it was sweet! Fabulous flavours.

Vodka & citrus cured salmon

For my entrée I had the vodka and citrus cured salmon, beetroot crisp, finger lime, wasabi aioli and  shiso cress. The surprise element in this dish is the beetroot crisps – which were beetroot flavoured meringue-like shards – such an awesome crunchy juxtaposition to the cool, tender, melt-in-the-mouth cured salmon.  The wasabi aioli and beetroot puree add a lovely creaminess and the finger lime gives you little bursts of acidic freshness.  Such an amazing dish!

Open Wagyu beef burger

Andrew loves this entrée, and has it almost exclusively whenever we visit.  The burger comes on toasted brioche, and is served with a quail egg, onion jam, and gruyere cheese.  Something new was the addition of a pork crisp on top – a very thin sliver of bacon fried off until it becomes a shard of crunchy porkiness. Lots of good, juicy, buttery flavours going on there!

Surprise dish – Slow cooked Bangalow pork belly

We were fortunate enough to be treated to a taste of one of the new dishes on the menu – slow cooked Bangalow pork belly served with pickled white peach and fennel salad, apple pudding puree, calvados jus and apple. Oh my goodness – I love good pork belly – and this was beautiful. The salad was also really lovely, and all the apple components packed a wallop of flavour.

Red roasted Barossa chicken

I had the red roasted Barossa chicken for my main.  This is one of my favourite dishes – I just can’t go past it for fantastic flavour and texture composition! Red roasting refers to a method of marinading with dark soy, star anise, Shaoxing wine and rock sugar. The beautifully roasted chicken is served on top of pea and mint fritters, which are beautifully tender and delicate in their flavour – a great foil to the richness of the chicken served with a creamy red curry sauce.  The whole composition is complemented by a pickled cucumber and coriander salad. It’s the fritters which get me every time!! So good!

Chinese style roast duck

Andrew’s main dish was the chinese style roast duck, served with green chilli and oyster sauce dressing, coconut rice and asian greens.  One of us consistently orders this dish because it is so gorgeous.  The duck is wonderfully cooked and remarkably tender, the sauce is full of flavour and makes your mouth water before it even hits your mouth.  All this flavour is beautifully tempered by the unctuous, creamy coconut rice, and the whole dish is lifted by the asian greens. An absolutely stellar dish!

Chocolate and passionfruit torte

For dessert, I had the chocolate torte – which makes you expect some sort of tart – but what you get is way better.  The torte is really a svelte and sublime dark chocolate mousse with a hidden pocket of passionfruit mousse all enrobed in a luscious thin layer of dark chocolate ganache.  It’s served with a quenelle of blood orange sorbet served atop crushed toffee, and an extra little treat is the five spice macaron. A gorgeous way to finish our wonderful meal.

Honeycrunch Ice cream

Once again, Andrew can’t help himself but order the honeycrunch ice cream, which is his old faithful dessert.  And why shouldn’t it be – arguably ezard’s signature dessert, I have never seen the honeycrunch icecream off the menu (and never should it be!).  It is served with lovely toasted gingerbread squares and a large sugar swirl, and carefully strewn with pieces of honeycomb! An oldie but a goodie!

Replete and happy – we have wound up a lovely evening with our favourite restaurant. Very few restaurants get everything right – but ezard manages to hit you with both barrels. Incredible food and amazing service – either of which alone would have you swooning, but together leave you in a very happy and pampered place.  If you’re anything like me, you will undoubtedly become a fiercely loyal customer who uses ezard as their benchmark for memorable, amazing, and beautifully composed dining experiences. A truly remarkable Melbourne restaurant and a stalwart in our culinary landscape – ezard successfully offers its patrons an escape into dining nirvana. Don’t miss it.

Ezard on Urbanspoon

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