When presented with the menu, nothing looked too unapproachable. Duck hearts would be a test and we expected our dining group to be divided on this one but hey, something to talk about.
We started off with cocktails and the Cher Pear one was very popular. Well balanced it was strong enough without being overpowering.
We were also served bread throughout the meal with whipped anchovy butter. At one point the waiter provided us with a plate of three slices when we're a group of five which was strange but one of the more experienced wait staff spotted this and commented that it was a strange thing to do so evened out the numbers and brought some more bread so we could all have a piece.
- Raw Scallop, Cured Roe, Tamarillo, Yukari
- Bug Tail, Eggplant Puree, Rhubarb, Dulse, Capers and Tamari
- Duck Hearts, Onions, Black Garlic, Fermented & Raw Mushrooms, Thyme
- Steamed Pork Belly, XO & Red Vinegar Sauce, Turnip Flowers
- Fleur du Maquis, Cherry Miso (plus $12)
Dare I say, this was almost amateurish and I feel not unlike something a home cook would put together for a dinner party...some meringue, fruit and dairy based creaminess. The addition of sumac and chervil didn't really do anything for me.
There's some clever cooking, duck hearts being the example but one stand out dish in a $100 per head menu is just not enough. And it's not just the cooking but the generosity and hospitality. I didn't feel a sense of generosity and it's never good when just before dessert, a dining group readily agree on going somewhere else for something else to eat! Hospitality was professional but not personal so in all, not a place I'd really want to return to.
Incidentally, we had a meal at Ides in Melbourne which is one hatted and has a similar 5 - 6 course fixed menu and there we experienced some great cooking, some great hospitality and a lot more warmth and generosity so it can work and we can be pleased but Automata just didn't do it for us and that actually saddens me as I really really wanted to like it.