Teague Ezard is a former Age Good Food Guide, Chef of the Year. He is of the "Australian free style" school of cooking with the primary although by no means only, influences of the cuisines of Asia, particularly China and Thailand. ezard is a two hat restaurant and given our experiences had only ever stretched to one hat we were excited to try this out.
ezard is a basement restaurant. It's a long, rectangular dining room with a private dining area and a small lounge area but no bar. Decor is understated and minimalist with white walls, charcoal grey seating and the odd splash of signature lime green by way of a cushion here and there and the t shirt tops underneath the sharp suits the wait staff wore.
We were greeted at the door and took a seat in the lounge. The place was busy and the private dining area was occupied. We were soon joined by three other couples and they were all shown to their tables pretty quickly and we were left alone which was a bit odd. However Quentin came to meet us and explained that he had a really good corner table for us which he'd set aside following our friendly conversation on the phone earlier but it wasn't quite ready. Well, given Quentin was so polite and so charming, we were happy to wait!
We ordered a bottle of Riesling; the same one Steve had had one glass of pre dinner. According to him it was interesting and unusual for a Riesling with a smoky finish. The waitress we had came back to us and was very polite but said she wanted to make an alternate suggestion just because the Riesling, although fantastic for one glass was probably too strong by the bottle. I was prepared for the upsell and interested to see what she would suggest. We were pleasantly surprised by her suggestion of a Gewurtztraminer which was actually cheaper and a wine we don't usually drink as it's usually just too much for our palette. The cynical of readers may at this stage may toy with idea of higher margin on the one she suggested, but I don't want to put a grey cloud over the meal! And the main thing is we really enjoyed her suggestion!
After the delicious bread we had the Japanese inspired swordfish shooter. There was a little salmon and guacamole amuse bouche on a spoon. Then a swordfish ball in a cold broth to down in one. The coldness was a little weird; I'm not one for cold soups but the swordfish was zingy tasting fresh with hints of chilli and coriander. The little black roll is a bunch of soba noodles wrapped in seawood to calm the tastebuds down following the shooter apparently. A bit like lime after tequila I guess, but the shooter wasn't so overly flavoured that it needed a palate cleanser, nevertheless the dish consisted of my kind of flavours and was unusual so a good start to the degustation menu.
Steamed crab wanton dumpling, spiced tom kha broth, young coconut, mango and crispy shallots followed. Delightfully Thai in flavours with the sweet, sharp, tangy and fishy flavours all blending together singing harmoniously! The coconut broth was perhaps a touch too creamy for me but that's a personal taste thing rather than a taint on the dish.
Seared Canadian scallops with spiced pumpkin puree, cumin caramel, pomegranate, chorizo, crispy chinese broccoli came next. The scallops were dusted in spices and they complimented the scallop so well with the chorizo adding depth and lingering aftertaste following the sweetness of the scallop.
We continued with the fish dishes and sampled the coconut roasted ocean trout with Asian gazpacho, tempura avocado, creme fraiche and Yarra Valley salmon eggs. This was fresh and light and creamy and just so delicious all at the same time. Steve's not a fan of pink fish but this converted him.
Five spiced Bangalow sweet pork belly with yellow bean and peanut dressing, apple slaw salad was like Chinese char siu; sweet and sticky and just yum.
Chinese roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and Asian greens was equally divine. The coconut rice had a rice pudding texture and was moist and sticky and the dressing was salty enough to cut through the cream. The duck was perfectly pink and very tender.
Dessert was a highlight. We decided to go for the tasting plate:
Banana parfait, cinnamon tuille and passionfruit syrup
Honeycrunch icecream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl
Fromage frais and rubarb cheesecake, basil pearls, lime syrup and mixed berry sorbet
Almond and blueberry sable, caramelised pear, citrus pannacotta and pistachio icecream
Bittersweet chocolate tart, poached pineapple and rosemary icecream
Mango and passionfruit bavarois, strawberry water and vanilla fairy floss
Each individual tasting portion looked beautiful and most importantly tasted great. A particular favourite was the rosemary ice cream and the honey crunch icecream with toasted ginger bread. Steve loved the almond and blueberry sable.
We're very thankful we live in Melbourne and that we have the opportunity to sample such delicious food. I think ezard represents the city very well; international influences superbly executed and a classy establishment too!
The interesting dinner conversation Mr Barley and I had was that if we had $400 we'd come here for a full on big dinner. This place deserves its two hats as everything that comes out the kitchen is stellar. The degustation was well thought out and each course was so delicious but not one of them was a stand out in its own right. However if we only had $40 we'd go to Nobu and choose one dish; I'd go for the yellowtail sashimi or fillet steak toban yaki and Steve would have miso black cod. I guess this shows why Nobu is a favourite of our's yet doesn't have any hats as it doesn't have the consistency ezard has but credit to it in that it does have some outstanding offerings.