Matteo's is a Northern suburbs, two hat stalwart. It has a history befitting the neighbourhood and a reassuring presence that is consistent.
Our last visit was about 5 years ago and I remember enjoying the food but couldn't exactly remember what we ate so it was time for a reminder. When I read the review I wrote last time, one comment was that it was more Asian influenced than we expected...and when we returned to compare, our memories failed us and we had forgotten just how strong an influence those Asian nuances were.
We loved the sound of the dishes on the Tasting Menu so it was easy to go with that. The dishes came out promptly. Service was friendly although the one waiter who serviced our area was a little stretched when we were at maximum capacity and it wasn't always easy to get his attention. When we did manage to attract him, his response was speedy so it wasn't a bad experience.
- Oyster shot with mirin and sake
- Ora King salmon and kingfish tartare
- ‘Black truffle’ potato croquette
- Tempura zucchini flowers with goat’s milk fetta
- Wagyu bresaola, enoki mushrooms, pickled daikon
The oyster shot was a yummy blend of sweet and salty with a deep savouriness to the liquid. Oyster shots are never the most attractive of dishes, reminding me of the animals preserved in liquid formaldehyde found in old museums and high school biology labs and this was the same. I guess the clear brown consomme like liquid and the shot glass contributed to this! But at least it tasted good!
Next I worked on the warm tempura zucchini flower which was a classic rendition with familiar flavours that have been proven to work and ever consistent, worked again.
The bresaola was well balanced in flavours too with some saltiness from the cured meat, a tang and a crunch from the pickle and then the earthy mushroom.
The salmon and kingfish tartare on a cracker was pleasant enough but need a little citrus kick I feel.
The small disappointment was the small croquette that looked like a black truffle but didn't have much flavour to it and I found the filling a bit mushy and gluey. A small morsel though so not bad enough to have a huge impact on the overall enjoyment of this first course.
The next course, we moved to fish:
Per tradition the black cod is marinated in the miso for at least 72 hourse. The versions I have had have been quite sweet but this one didn't quite have that flavour note. The strongest flavour, I felt, came from the crustacean sauce which was perfumed with lemongrass.
Japanese black cod done this way is usually quite rich but this one was kept light and fresh which I quite liked especially given that there was more food to come.
- Mushroom wonton-tortellini, peas, truffled Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce
Where the previous fish dish was light and bright, this pasta came with a punch. Flavour wise the cheese foam was intense and rich. The tortellini filling was creamy and decadent and the peas added intensity with a sweet finish. It was delicious but I couldn't eat more than the three pieces served and for me the sauce was just on the side of manageable. Any more cheese in it would have been too overwhelming for me.
After the passion and pasta of Italy, we journeyed to the East like Marco Polo!
This is a take on the traditional Chinese Peking duck. The duck slices were deliciously tender and actually quite delicate in flavour. I liked the pickled cucumber and spring onion pancake. I felt the steamed leek was a bit soft and I didn't l didn't like the whipped tofu which was too much like wallpaper paste with not much flavour.
Dessert was the prettily presented Vacherin:
Loved the raspberries and black speckled ball of ice cream. The custard was smooth and rich. I wasn't a huge fan of the raspberry jam like goo as it was too sweet and intense for my palette but Steve enjoyed it all and proved that by eating his plate clean!
It was not about 10pm and the sound of the disco DJ at the private function in the courtyard could now be heard in our dining area.
There are three, two hatted restaurants all within 15 minutes walk of home for us - Cutler & Co,, St, Crispin and here. At all three the food is of a strong standard. I struggle with the darkness of the dining room at Cutler & Co. on an evening and here I felt the ambience especially with the nightclub ending of our meal was also a little off. I think my favourite for food and ambience would be St. Crispin but it's a pretty tight two hat race.