Dinner at Marque. Finally. Another birthday outing in the month of birthdays.
We decided to have the degustation, though one of our party was reluctant as there's quite an emphasis on fish.
The degustation here is 'Carte Blanche', meaning that you don't see the menu until the end. They ask you if you don't like some food, which I guess means they omit it if it was on that night. One of our party asked for meat to be well done, and they did this for him.
We started with Mark Best's signature dish, the Chaid-Froid free range egg. It is a soft cooked egg yolk with a savoury custard on top, served with the thinnest salted grissini to dip in. The combination of soft egg, savoury custard and the salty crispness of the grissini is superb. It seems that Mark Best likes to work with textures as well as flavours.
Next came an Almond Jelly with Blue Swimmer Crab, Almond Gazpacho and Avruga. This was accompanied by a 2009 Rockford White Frontignac from the Barossa.
Next came the Mackerell with Smoked Foie Gras, Lardo, Mustard and Gherkin, accompanied by 2005 Domaine des Baumard, 'Clos du Papillon', a Chenin Blanc from France.
This was amazing. The foie gras and the mackerel together made a third flavour/texture. It was sensational, and I don't usually eat raw fish. The lardo was crisp and another textural element. This was one of the highlight dishes of the evening.
Next was the Scampi with Lemon Curd, Vadouvan, Cos Lettuce and Burnt Fennel. Wine match was a 2004 George Bruer 'Berg Roseneck' Reisling from Germany.
Vadouvan is a mixture of turmeric and cumin. The scampi had been dusted with it before grilling. The lettuce and the fennel were cooked and formed a bed under the scampi.
Before we go on, I must talk about the wine. For me, this was the best food and wine match I have ever had anywhere. And partly this was because the sommelier set up our expectation before the food. In every case the wine was poured before the food. The sommelier would describe the wine as, in the example above, (I'm paraphrasing) "this is a very dry crisp wine. It has overtones of flowers but little sweetness. It will complement the lemon curd you're having in your next course." So we were primed to watch for the marriage of the wine with the lemon curd, and our senses were awake to how the wine matched the food we were eating. Whether this was deliberate or whether we were willing subjects makes no difference, really, because we were set to make the most of the wine and the food, and certainly did!
Next came the Berridale Farm Organic Root Vegetables with Ham Consomme. Wine was a 2008 Pieerre-Marie Chermette 'Les Griottes' Beaujolais from Burgundy in France. This dish was amazing. Beautifully cooked and prepared tiny tiny vegetables in a clear ham flavoured broth - what could be better. Bring on the bathtubs, I say!
Now comes Roast Muscovy Duck with steamed Eggplant, Yoghurt and Dried Scallop, paired with 2007 Giovanni Rosso, Barbera d'Alba from Piemonte, Italy.
As you can see, a rare piece of duck. Eggplant not memorable, but the duck was superb.
Final savoury course was Venison with Beetroot, Radicchio, Cocoa, Hazelnut and Vanilla. Wine match was a 2008 Domaine le Ligiere, Grenache/Shiraz from Vacqueyras in France.
This was another of the standout dishes of the evening. The venison was delectably tender, but the marriage of the the hazelnut, cocoa and vanilla sauces was unbelievable. Absolutely amazing. The beetroot was a long wide ribbon cut from a single vegetable. The three sauces can be seen as 3 artistic smears and blobs.
One of the diners and I elected to have an extra, optional savoury course - Vacca Rossa Reggiano with Manjimup black truffles and Potato 'en cocotte', matched with a glass of Chestnut Fizz (champagne with chestnut liquer added, served in a martini glass. Fabulous!!).
This was like eating savoury velvet. Sorry there's no photo!!
Onto dessert, after a small palate cleanser of sauternes custard topped with sauternes jelly.
and finally the main dessert, which was Chocolate Mousse 'ecrase', Eucalyptus and Coconut. Wine was a Henriques & Henriques, 10years old, Buel, Madeira, Portugal.
Sadly the photo was taken after someone had had a go at the food.
We had some herbal teas and they came with a small wooden platter on which were 4 'bon bon's each - sweet (a crisp shell containing earl grey tea and sweet marmalade), sour (an ultra-thin white chocolate shell containing lemon curd), salty (a large dark chocolate containing soft salted caramel) and bitter (a jelly-like shell containing grapefruit juice). What an amazing conclusion!
This was a fabulous dinner. Mark Best deserves every one of his chef's hats, and all the other accolades he receives as well.