MELBOURNE | The Marriott in Melbourne has recently launched Table for 12, a set menu for twelve people with meals specially created by Chef Amit Laud. The City Lane was invited to attend and we were curious to see what this hotel restaurant offering would be like.
Like many, we always have our reservations about hotel restaurants – they can often feel like the poor country cousin to an otherwise excellent hotel. So with this is mind, it’s always great to see a hotel restaurant seeking to do something more than capitalise on their own captive (and resident) audience.
Of note, each course of the menu for our dinner was matched with different wine, but this review focuses mostly on the overall experience, although we will dabble in a little about the wines later on.
Milk Braised Cauliflower, Truffle, Nutmeg
At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that you had been served coffee, and while it would have been an innovative start to the meal, this is coffee in looks only.
Hiding beneath the creamy froth on the surface is a grated cauliflower-based soup. At first we all used spoons for this, but as we scratched away the surface many realised that this choice of cup was no accident, finding the soup easily sip-able.
Like many modern cauliflower-based dishes, the soup follows the recent trend of using the vegetable in a way that completely hides it’s actual flavour. It’s not something we’re complaining about, but if you are expecting something more akin to a cauliflower flavour, you may be disappointed.
Squid Ink Risotto, Calamari, Lime Zephyr
When someone at the table read that this dish contained squid ink, there was a lot of excitement. At the time I didn’t really think about what that might imply, but when the course arrived with a bed of black rice it soon hit home. When this was introduced, we were also notified of a set of seasonings in the middle of the table. Although the dish wasn’t starting from zero on this, the idea is that the dish is meant to be self-seasoned to taste. We found it really benefited from experimentation. If you’re wondering what lime zephyr is, to our surprise, it was the foam-like substance on top.
Duck Breast, Maple Scented Pumpkin, Pomegranates & Coffee
The main of the evening was the duck, but as with everything so far, this poultry only told half the story. As explained to us by Chef Amit Laud, while the meat is important, the challenge for him lies with the pumpkin – an ingredient the chef is no fan of. For Laud, this is about finding a way to deliver a dish with pumpkin that makes the vegetable interesting for him.
The course itself is tender, containing pomegranate and a hint of chocolate, and there is a definite feeling that this was designed from the ground up to deliver a new take on a duck-based dish. Of special note, while I don’t think anyone at the table could claim to be an expert on wine, the glass selected for this, the Squealing Pig Pinot Noir, did well to compliment the chocolate flavour that was prominent on the duck.
Chocolate: Marquis, Soil With Hints Of Mints & Shiraz
Desert was a combination of chocolate, ice cream and an espresso glass of berries, served on a paddle and combined with a sparkling Shiraz. The desert was rich and consistent, and suited the overall tone of the meal.
However, this simple desert combination did not come without opportunity. As tends to happen when a few food bloggers get together, like our hosts, we like to experiment a little with what is in front of us. So, if you happen to find yourself at the Marriott for Table for 12 and this desert is on the menu, here is what we suggest:
- Finish the chocolate and the berries first, but leave the juice at the bottom of the espresso glass.
- Take a dollop of ice cream and drop it into the espresso glass. It doesn’t have to be a large amount, but just enough to fill around half of the glass.
- Pick up the sparkling Shiraz and pour it into the espresso glass until it reaches the top, surrounding the ice cream with the wine.
It seems unorthodox, and in truth, it is, but it’s also a taste that you’ll want to try.
Table for 12 is a great concept and a great way to dine. The courses change regularly, so you may not find yourself with the same menu we’ve covered here, but we’re certain the spirit and ideals will remain the same.
Table For 12
Marriott Melbourne Hotel
Corner Exhibition and Lonsdale Street
Telephone: (03) 9662 3900
Thu: 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Bookings essential, up to 24 hours in advance.