74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea - ph: (03) 9530 0111
Come here for: a true fine dining experience
Don't come here: for a quick meal. Attica offers 5 or 8 course tasting menus only
We visited Attica on a Wednesday night for a special celebration dinner.
I have to start this post with a little disclaimer and confess that it has now been over a month since the dinner and I can't remember all the details of all dishes, so some of my descriptions may not be 100% accurate... Note to self: need to start writing the moment I get home from dinner, otherwise I leave it for way too long...
I have heard mixed reviews about this place - critics seem to love it, but I've heard friends saying they didn't like the experience, mainly based on the service being too slow and too stuffy.
In our experience, the service was excellent from the moment we walked in until we were given our coats on the way out.
Our waiters managed to act pretty laid back without losing the formality of a fine dining restaurant. The sommelier was very knowledgeable on food matching and provided detailed explanations on each of the matched wines - without being intrusive in our conversation. Excellent service throughout!
Now to the food: we ordered the 5 course tasting menu ($95) with matched wines ($65).
Warm bread was served quickly after we sat down with some amazing emulsified butter with black salt. This must not be good for you - it was velvety soft and salty - but I could easily have eaten a plateful of just bread and butter that night.
Before the first course, we got an amuse buche of crunchy vegetables with citrus sauce. I loved the texture of the finely sliced, barely cooked vegetables. This was a perfect starter - very light and delicate dish.
First entree was snow crab served - literally - under a snow cream that melted in the mouth. This dish had great textures. I can't remember all the ingredients, but each mouthful was smooth and crunchy at the same time and the crab was perfectly cooked.
Second entree 'a simple dish of potato cooked in the earth it was grown' (for about 12hs, we were told by the waiter). The potato was, as you would expect, very tender and went beautifully well with the crisp garnishing herbs.
The waiter explained that this dish was inspired in the New Zealand (Attica's chef Ben Shewry is from the North Island) tradition of cooking under the earth.
Next dish was a snapper fillet served with shitake broth and quinoa - my favourite for the night. The fish was very well cooked and its subtle flavour blended in perfectly with slightly smoky, prevailing flavour of the mushroom broth. Toasted quinoa added - again - a different texture to the dish.
Last savoury course was beef served with sea lettuce (seaweed) and raw white cabbage. I wasn't too sure about the idea of raw cabbage when the waiter presented this dish, but it actually tasted very mild (only the stem was used). All elements worked really well, but the beef was a bit chewy and my only disappointment for the night.
Dessert was definitely my favourite dish for the night. Apple, olive and warm shredded wheat was basically a modern version of apple crumble. The crumble was deliciously rich, crunchy and creamy, apple was sour simply melted in the mouth. A winner!
Overall, we really enjoyed the food, wine and service. The only big let down for me was the proximity of tables - the table next to us was so close, we could hear everything they were saying. It's disappointing not getting a bit more space and privacy in a fine dining restaurant.
Other than that, I think Attica's acclaimed reviews are well deserved and I would certainly come back.