Location: 74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea VIC 3185
Telephone: (03) 9530 0111
Dining at Attica was a 4.5 hour long experience, inclusive of an incursion to the restaurants’ very own herb and veggie garden. At a price point of $250++ per person, I think you deserve the pomp and ceremony that Attica gives you, I had many highs and some lows over the course of this dining experience, and walked away feeling like I had just experienced something special, albeit with a (s)wank-factor of 1000. The menu consisted of everything from stock standard chicken through to wallaby blood and I’m convinced that I got duped into eating lawnmower trimmings floating in soap at one stage through this experience.
Let me take you through the 9+ courses:
I am going to bundle together a range of different entrees we were served here, in the interest of time and not boring you all too much. We started with “Cook’s Leaves” – this was literally two leaves served with a dipping sauce. Go figure! The dip was great, and the leaves were leaf-like.
Next we had the “Ovens Pumpkin Seeds”, wrapped in cucumber. This was delicious, it was so fresh and flavourful and I was blown away with the amount of flavour packed into such a tiny morsel. This got my taste buds buzzing with excitement for what laid ahead.
This was followed by some “Goolwa Pippies” and “Winter Pickles” – self-descriptive I think. The pippie’s were nice and fresh and the pickled vegetables were non-memorable and fairly pointless. Here my taste buds stopped buzzing and apprehension had set in. Did I fall into the trap of visiting some overly hyped restaurant here?
The next 3 dishes were fantastic, and now I knew I was in for a roller-coaster experience here, so I strapped in for the ride. Here we had “Fresh Cheese and Honeycomb”, “Crispy Crab” and “Wallaby Blood Pikelets”. All of this was drool-worthy!
The honeycomb gets served on your plate straight from the honeycomb whence it came – they (and when I say “they”, I mean Ben Shewry of course) literally carry it out to your table and spoon some on your plate. Wasn’t lying about the (s)wank, was I? The crab and wallaby blood pikelets were just delicious too.
I was back at the top of this rollercoaster ride, soon to come crashing down by something called “Chicken Carrots”. Yes, “Chicken”. “Carrots”. I didn’t really understand what this dish was about – couldn’t really taste chicken or carrots here, or anything much else really. Let’s move on, because the rides about the head back up.
“Buttered Young Corn”, “Lance Wiffin’s Mussels” and “Beef on the Bone” were the next 3 dishes out. The corn was nice, with a strong buttery flavour and who doesn’t like butter?! The mussels were fantastic, lightly crumbed and perfectly fried and then there was the beef. Oh, the beef! This was served on a bone toothpick of sorts. The meat just melted in my mouth here, it was fantastic and I was back up top again, only to come crashing down by “Aromatic Ripponlea Broth” – the gardening trimmings I mentioned above.
The broth was tasty, but it was covered by edible leaves and flowers, most of which were bitter. If you like wheat grass shots, you might like this dish. It just was not for me – too much swank, not enough (good) flavour.
To conclude all the pre-dinner bites or entrée’s, we were served some “Wattleseed Bread” with salt, butter and a dipping sauce. Let me just say that all the serving sizes were quite small, so I still had room-a-plenty for what lay ahead.
The “Salted Red Kangaroo and Bunya Bunya” was delicious. It was like eating a kangaroo tartare and I loved it:
The “Marron, Riberry and Pearl” was one of my favourite dishes of the night. This was amazing, the marron was cooked to perfection and the flavours were just incredible here.
We then had the “Yeasty Potatoes” which were potatoes in a cream sauce. They were nice, nothing extravagant, but nice enough. I read a review on Attica where it was mentioned that these were “the best potatoes you will ever eat” and this same sentiment was shared on a documentary about Attica and Ben Shewry. All i will say is, it’s a potato – calm down!
Next up was a dish called “145 Days on Earth”, my interest was piqued for months about what this could possibly be. Well, I can certainly say I did not guess what it actually was – cabbage. It was cabbage harvested 142 days in, served with Emu and beet juice. This is perhaps the tastiest way I have ever eaten cabbage and, having never eaten Emu before, I thought it was delish! Herein ends the savoury courses.
The first of 4 dessert courses was the “Ripponlea Volcano” which is served outside in the Attica herb garden, straight from a purpose-built “volcano” setup out the back. This was essentially a mini Christmas pudding type dish. It was a nice bridge between the savouries and the sweets, nothing to die for though.
We then had “Maria’s Green Apples” which was spectacular. It looked like a work of art on the plate and tasted incredible. Zesty, fresh and very crisp on the palette, this was faultless in my opinion.
“Louis’ Jelly Whip” was the next dish out, and perhaps my favourite dessert. I couldn’t finish it all, as it was a generous serve and I was getting fairly full now, but that in no way shows how I felt about this dish. It was perfect. This is a whipped milk mousse paired with Mandarin jelly – again, fresh and crisp for a dessert.
Last up was “Pukeko’s Egg”. Now, I was quite enjoying my rollercoaster ride through the previous 8 dishes, mostly hits thus far. This finale dish unfortunately ended the experience back down the bottom, though beautifully presented, the flavours were just nothing to rave about. What is this Pukeko egg? Well, it’s a white chocolate “egg” filled with a salted caramel. Sounds amazing, but unfortunately the taste missed the mark here. The salted caramel was not salted enough, and way too sweet. I prefer darker caramels, and this one was too light and tasted like stock standard, almost tinned, caramel. Not great.
The matching wines over the course of this experience were not worth the extra money, most were a disappointment. The overall service here was fantastic, but there were some major misses here too. We got given the menu at the end of our dining experience – this would’ve been handy at the start, so that we knew what was up ahead.
At the end of our meals, we were asked if we would like “complimentary coffees”, which turned out to be $5 coffees. Perhaps the air was complimentary? I don’t know. After paying about $350 for the food and drinks, I think a free coffee could perhaps be thrown in, but maybe that’s just me.
This was quite an experience, and I would say the food is worth the calories. Is it worth the hype though? I’m not so sure it is, based on this experience. One thing is for certain, they do stay true to the natural flavours of the produce, but I did expect more from No. 32 of the world’s top 50.