Welcome to the nom noms peoples, today we are going to get straight to the “point”. Yes that was a terrible joke…I’m here every Thursday.
Over the weekend my brothers and I took our parents out for dinner for their birthdays. They do like their steak and wine so we decided to take them to The Point Restaurant at Albert Park. This two hatted restaurant, headed my Chef Justin Wise, was voted Victoria’s Best steakhouse in 2011 and dedicates its menu to nine different beef dishes sourced from the finest moo moo’s in the land. The point takes a classical approach to food with a modern interpretation in concert with an equally impressive international wine list.
So on a stinking hot Sunday, we made a culinary assault on the Point. The point has three cellars; their main one underground constantly temperature controlled protecting its treasures, the second in a corner display harbouring magnums to nebuchadnezzars of mouth watering first growth Bordeaux. The third was our dining room; a temperature controlled room filled floor to wall with a mixture of top notch Australian, French and Spanish wines and a meat fridge on display.
The Cellar Room
As we sat in our temperature “controlled” room (took a little while for the room to settle and accommodate warm bodies) sipping on still and sparking water, the waiters came round with the menus. Naturally I went with the eight course degustation with wine matching to give you, my lovely “soon to be followers” (hint hint! :P) reader’s extra sexy photos. One of our party went al la carte getting the beef tasting plate and cheesecake desert.
Before each course our very knowledgeable sommelier would give us a thorough rundown on the wines background, history and reasons on why this wine was chosen to pair the dish; a process I really enjoyed. The rest of the wait staff were fine though one in particular has an overly dry sense of humour which I found a tad impolite but anyways, let’s not dwell on that and get to….the point.
Scallop ceviche, Avruga and fennel
Scrambled duck egg and caviar, set in the shell ($20 Supplement)
2011 Sinapius Pipers Brook, Riesling, Tasmania
The first course came with the choice of scallop or duck egg which came with a $20 surcharge which I presume was for the caviar. My choice, the scallop ceviche, was cooked via medical means and paired with a tazzy Rielsing. This Riesling was produced by a famous ex footballer with a German background, made dry but with elegance, floral and lifted; paired to carry the delicate flavours of the dish. The Point is the only place in mainland Australia to carry this wine, extremely exclusive and sold to only friends and family.
Complex nose, fresh buttery, well lifted, straw, melon and honeyed. A sweet attack, grassy with a backing of sour lemon and yellow peach, lightens and cools off with pickled cucumber and oyster shell in the mid and finish with a splash of lemon. Yum.
The scallop is finely cooked. This dish is a really great way of presenting scallops, clean and pure, paired with sweet tomatoes and salty caviar balanced by a soft and crunchy texture. With the dish, the wine is more pronounced, thicker and has more bold flavours of aniseed and fennel.
Tomato terrine, cumin crème fraiche, Ortiz anchovy and tonburi seed dressing
NV Whispering Angel, Chateau D’Esclans Rosé, Cotes de Provence
Second course was a Tomato terrine matched with a very peculiar rose from Chateau D’Esclans (pronounced “Des-quar-nt”). This is one of the most famous rosé in the world made by the former chief winemaker of the Chateau Mouton Rothschild. A Grenache dominated rose with a savoury onion colour via the saignée process. At ~$200 a bottle for the top end vintages (for a rosé!) this wine was used to match the intensity and weight of the tomato’s inherent characters.
Nose smells like melted butter, real lushness to it of milk and honey like crunchy nut cornflakes which has been left too long and you start to see swirls in the milk. Attack is grainy, flaky and powdery with a bitterness in the mid palate akin to furry leaves. Very elegant but also rustic with an arid falvour profile. Finishes long, hairy like a tame bitter gourd. In a word, weird.
As to the dish, ripe tomato with cumin takes the lead role sprinkled with Indian like spices when mixed with the anchovies. Lovely texture like a well done tuna sashimi and, like its wine counterpart, random. The wine brings up the Indian spices and pronounce cumin and fennel seeds flavours. I find the tomato calms the wine down a bit and make it a very slaty and rocky. Odd wine for odd combo.
Pan seared foie gras, apple fondant and Medeira
2007 Richter Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel (~$233)
Who doesn’t like foie gras! Accompanied with toffee apple, cos heart and German Auslese Riesling. This again is a very rare breed, low yields and only 0.1% for this particular style from a great 07 vintage. These grapes are grown on pure brown and red slate forcing the vine roots to dig deep for complexity. The grapes are situated on a south facing vineward close to a river for additional sun and ripening. Nose of sweet green apples, green grapes and straw. Sweet grapes swim onto the palate with orange zest, translating to a similar mid palate with a touch of rind in the background. Finishes bubbly like demi sec.
As to the dish itself, the combination of sweet apples and foie gras is lovely and the crunch of the apple with the soft seared foie gras brings out the fragrance and awe of decadence. God I love foie gras. With the dish, the wine becomes a tad sweeter and a bit richer in flavours probably due to the residual fattiness of the dish.
Parmesan crusted Patagonian toothfish, mud crab and beetroot consomme
2009 Domaine Michelot Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy France (~$125)
Quail galantine, figs, trompette de la mort and chicken liver farce
2008 Gevrey-Chambertin Aus Etelois (Maume), Gevrey-Chambertin (~$185)
Course four was an optional course between toothfish and quail. I chose the toothfish which was matched with my favourite white, montrachet. This particular montrachet is a pugeny montrachet which also straddles mersault giving it the best of both worlds of focus and finesse. The 09 vintage is a younger vintage and gives of a natural generosity when paired with the fish. Rich nose of oak, wax, watermelon peal with persimmon. Linear attack with caramelised lemons and orange then biscotti and almonds adding camembert, lemon rind and a touch burnt wood in the end. This was not the best montrachet I have tried, a little underbalanced and I think needed some air to lift and settle the wine.
The matching wine for the quail was its brother in arms; a Gevrey-Chambertin. This Gevrey-Chambertin hails from Domaine Maume which has been awaiting its transition to premier cru status for the last 15 years. A very masculine wine with little oak influence for more femineity, cleanness and acidity intended to act as a palate cleanser for the quail and sharpen up the flavours. Traditional red cherries on the nose along with liquid centre black forest chocolates. Attack is acidic and light with a line of steel and flint. Mid is minerally and slightly creamy, cheesy, brown sugar along with milk and dark chocolate in the finish. Very very very good wine.
The fish smelt amazing, easily the favourite meal of the night. Thank you parmesan crust! The toothfish and cold mud crab was buttery and has insane texture. The fish is cooked extremely well, firm to touch, flaking off gently and then melting in your mouth. Consume has deep flavours, earthy and clean with the crab bringing Asian flavours livening and balancing out the sweet shallots and crab. Lovely dish. The wine benefited from the meal becoming more rounded and giving off a pineapple note but still wouldn’t take it home to meet the folks just yet. The Gevrey-Chambertin, I’ll drink that now thanks.
Western Plains suckling pig, radish, blood plums and liquorice sauce
2004 La Rioja Alta Vina Arana, Rioja ~($118)
Rioja and pork, classic Spanish combo. This Rioja has had the pleasure of being decanted in excess of nine hours having been sitting in its ridel decanter since 10.30am. Produced in the surrounds of northern Spain, this wine brings elegance, perfume and old world earthiness. Produced for grand reserve class, barrelled for a minimum of six years upholding 500 years of history; the 2004 has intensity without weight. Lovely stink (my word for barnyard) on the nose, earthy mushrooms and underbrush, acidic and fresh with a touch of seaweed. Attack is berries, definitely cranberry. Great balance of intensity and softness with each new taste highlighting a different aspect of the wine be it the tannins, acidity or fruit. Not overly extracted but just enough, finishing like a pino with a slice of dark chocolate. Fabulous wine, one I would gladly buy for the cellar.
The suckling pig is a female pig, free ranged for six week at approximately 7kg in weight. There are three different cuts to this dish. The large piece up top is the shoulder folded with belly. The two round pieces on the right are is loin and to the left is brawn; a mix of head, neck and gel pressed and cooked together. Accompanying is a radish and pig ear salad under a liquorish jus. The loin is very soft, very juicy but a bit gamey. The brawn is quite nice, has a semi jelly form to it through soft meat but the shoulder must be the star with a sick sick crispy crust. The wine matches well with this giving off a bit more stink and more pronounced fruit on the palate. Sweet dish and sweet combo.
Porterhouse, 40 day dry aged, Cape Grim Tasmania, braised intercostals, horseradish pommes puree and Otway shiitake mushrooms
2010 Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay New Zealand, Syrah (~$115)
100g Cape Grim Eye fillet, pasture fed
100g Sher F1 Wagyu Porterhouse, 350+ day grain fed
100g Hopkins River Eye Fillet 120+ day grain fed
Le piece de resistance! Le Beouf with a second picture of the al la carte tasting plate of pasture, wagu and grain feed beef from right to left as you see it. And what classic wine variety sits alongside this dish? Syrah of course once again, nestled in a decanter. This wine comes from one of 17 producers of Syrah in the Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, North Island NZ. These are hand crafted wines made in small quantities which are very dear to NZ hence rarely found in Australia; the allocation for Australia is 10 cases for the whole country! Inspired by the wines from the Rhone Valley, this wine brings perfume of blue flowers and violets, blueberries and crème, with graphite and spice, lean dry tannins and generous fruit on palate, am elegance of weight, powered by peppercorns and chocolate in the finish.
This particular cut of porterhouse was dry aged for 46 days. I and the rest of the table found they missed the mark on this dish (especially in comparison to the grain fed beef on the tasting plate). Slightly tough and a bit dry but still delicate in flavour alongside earthy mushrooms. The potato is a touch granularly and the raw peas were oh so not required. A very lack lustre dish for the restaurants main attraction and in my opinion needed more fat for flavour and moisture. Moooo.
Herve Mons Camembert, Normandy France
Harcourt Pear Cider, Victoria (~$15)
Herve Mons is a third generation cheese maker recognised by the French government with the prestigious title of ‘Millieur Ouvrier de France’. Made from cow’s milk, this delicious cheese sparks images of cooked cauliflower and truffle. Harcourt pear cider pairs with this dish’s animalistic character refreshing the palate for the next mouthful of cheese. There is alot of skin contact in this cider bringing a phenolic texture and lifting out truffle notes from the cheese. So so good, so very very good. Only fault was so little cheese!
A pre-desert palate cleanser of passionfruit tapioca, elderflower granita. Wow! Bam! Passionfruit is the nuts. Intense acidity, light and refreshing like a slap in the face. Like.
Chocolate Nemesis, macerated cherries and Kirsch sorbet
Quark cheesecake, raspberry, soft hazelnut and lemonade sorbet
1985 Toro Albala Pedro Ximenez Gran Reserva, Montilla Moriles (~$99)
The final pairing was a 1985 PX hailing from very old vines produced in a biodynamic vineyard from the south of Spain. During harvest, they would roll paper between the trellised yard, hand pick the grapes and throw them onto the paper to let them dry out. The location is very hot so the once white grapes soon dry out and become like raisins. They would then be pressed on an olive oil stone and spend an extensive period within barrels. This one for example was harvested in 1985 and bottled in 2012 from a single non solera barrel. This PX has a high level of spiced sherry which matches against the high level of coco mass in the desert (73%). A deep perfume of coffee, chocolate and strawberries, well concentrated being syrupy with a bit of tang in the palate. Lovely sultana, rum raisin, bananas and hazelnuts fill your mouth finishing with chocolate fudge and a zip of alcohol heat.
Next the glass of PX sat the a la carte cheesecake and our nemesis in black. The chocolate dessert is light with a coconut base, like chocolate wafers made from rice crisps. Cherries and a zingy sorbet contrast the chocolate beautifully both in flavour and density. The more you eat, the richer it gets and the more sorbet you want.
Chocolate, jams and shortbread
Tea or Coffee
With the arrival of the petit fours came a welcomed short black. Espresso lovers, give this a go, its good coffee! I had also arranged personalised plates of petit fours for the parents. A fine end to a long boozy night.
Overall, the dishes of the night were ok but not amazing. The toothfish was the only dish that impressed me. The scallops, foie gras and cheese were very good but the porterhouse was disappointing. The wine matching paired well with the dishes even though the a few didn’t really hold up on their own.
Some final thoughts and tips for your adventure at The Point:
- The degustation again ok but not amazing but a great value at $150pp including tea or coffee. Allow for around 4 hours and be aware of any changes to meals due to dietary requirements; it may cost you extra even though it shouldn’t.
- The wine matching is even better value at $85pp and a great learning experience.
- If you’re looking for just steak, get the wagu and don’t bother with the degustation.
- When booking be sure to request for the Cellar room (note there will be a minimum spend)
- You will need to pay for parking so bring some shrapnel.
- Beware ordering water. If you can, ensure it is tap else you will be slapped with a hefty bill. The wait staffs really want to keep you hydrated.
- Dress code is smart casual
- Enjoy yourself
- Any other questions just throw me a comment and I’ll get back to you
See you next time