Review: Attica, Ripponlea – Part 1: The Entrees

Recently we celebrated our 1 year in Melbourne Anniversary, and what better place to celebrate than in one of the top 50 restaurants in the world (32nd to be exact). Now, I won’t bore you with the drama of how we nearly didn’t get a table, the most important thing is – someone cancelled (God bless you, whoever you were), and we were lucky enough to enjoy this amazing experience exactly one year on from leaving everything we knew behind.

I went into Attica with great apprehension, I’d read some of the less than glowing reviews on Zomato, and I was really beginning to wonder if I should have saved my money and gone to the ever reliable local Nandos instead, but then we went in, and all my anxiety flew away like a beautiful butterfly. We were warmly greeted and asked the occasion – throughout the night many of the staff took the time to discuss this with us, and on leaving wished us another great year in Melbourne. We were seated in a table in the corner – winner, I hate other people anyway, and provided with a drinks menu. Now neither of us are big drinkers, and having been sick for most of the week, I wasn’t keen to mix the various medications I’d been taking with copious amounts of alcohol. I also hate wine pairings, as if I don’t like the wine, no matter how perfectly you may think it goes with the food, for me the dish is ruined. So we opted for one of the cheaper ($90) bottles of wine – Nocture, a Margaret Rive Chardonnay. For us it was perfect, just light and crisp – additionally, the waitress didn’t even flinch, no attempts to upsell us to a more expensive bottle, or push the wine pairing, nor did they rush us through the bottle to force us to get another one.

NOTE: Menu spoilers below!

The food began arriving soon after we were settled with our drinks, and continue at a fairly brisk but appropriate pace throughout the night – we were there a little under 4 hours in total. Entrees are served sans cutlery, designed to eat with your hands. Every entree was unique and I loved the care that the waiting staff took to explain clearly what each dish was. I did consider ranking each dish out of 10, however, I decided this was a little unfair, as an Attica 8, would be an anywhere else 25.5, so I’m instead going to rank each dish out of 19 (we had 19 course).

IMG_5471Cooks’s leaves: I found these were a bit of a nothing dish, but a light way to start the meal and a good way to show off their home grown produce (Although I have to be honest, I grow the same on my second floor balcony). The dip was nice, but again, not a strong start. (19th – Just because there wasn’t much to it, and something has to come last)

IMG_5473Aged Santa Claus Melon: this was delicious. Of all the dishes on the menu, this one was the one I was expecting to be the most meh about, but it was perfectly aged, sweet and juicy and the raspberry dusting on top just gave the perfect hit of flavour and a slight bitter note to the dish (13th – It was delicious, but still quite simple compared to later dishes).

IMG_5477Pearl cooked in paperbark/Baby corn cooked in paperbark: I’m intolerant to shellfish so there were several dishes where I was provided with an alternative. This was probably the highlight of the night for both of us. While the pearl meat was a little messy to eat for my other half, my baby corn didn’t pose the same problem. The flavours from the paperbark and the light butter based sauce were just divine, and I am pretty confident that is the best piece of baby corn I will ever eat. I could have just been provided with 100 of these little paperbark parcels and some damper (which I’ll discuss later) and I’d have left happy (1st – Perfection on a plate, or a piece of paperbark).

IMG_5479Smashed avo on toast: A little misleading as it’s more like a cracker than toast but a very enjoyable little nod to Melbourne’s favourite brunch food. Great flavours, although don’t go expected traditional sweet avocado, the addition of finger limes on top gives it a surprising sour note, but still a highly enjoyable dish (7th – A great twist on a Melbourne classic).

IMG_5481Smoked pork: For me, the first non-vegetarian offering of the night, and a great light start. The pork was thinly sliced, and well cooked – a mild flavour and a really good choice at this point before moving on to some of the slightly heavier entrees (10th – enjoyable, but didn’t jump out as a highlight).

IMG_5484An Imperfect History of Ripponlea: visually this had to be the highlight of the entrees, three little tarts covering three separate periods in Ripponlea’s history – the red tart representative of the traditional owners of the land (and my personal favourite, as it was topped with fruit – I can’t remember what kind, it was a long night – giving it a sweeter flavour); the black tart, with an English tea flavour and a black pudding topper, represented the arrival of the British and the final tart – a chicken and dill flavoured one, representing the Jewish settlement in the area. I surprisingly quite enjoyed the black pudding one, but I didn’t like the dill flavour or the texture of the jelly on the third. (15th – Beautiful plating, and a great idea, but just didn’t enjoy the chicken one).

IMG_5485Gazza’s Vegemite Pie: This was the most strongly flavoured entree with Parmesan cheese and lamb in addition to the Vegemite. Now I hate Vegemite, but combined with the two other strong flavours it worked well, and only being a couple of mouthfuls, I found it surprisingly enjoyable (12th – because it still had Vegemite in it).

IMG_5488

Scallop and Wattlesoy/Radish butter pastry: Again, no seafood for me. However, I love radishes and there was a real salty, undertone to this which combined with the bitter radish made me feel as though I was missing out on very little. The crisp texture of this dish was very different to anything we’d had so far (11th – another great dish, but again, a little more simple that some of those scoring more highly).

IMG_5490Chewy Carrots: They arrived almost alongside the Scallop/radish, which I didn’t really understand. They were certainly different to any other carrots I’d tried before, but only really came into their own when tried with the tarragon sauce. (16th – Not a highlight, and the timing was strange,  but definitely a unique presentation of carrots).

IMG_5492

Mutton shell/crispy artichoke: Now I didn’t even bother to photograph mine as it was so visually disappointing compared to the beautiful abalone shell. Mr Boring said this was his second favourite dish, and I have to say it would have got full marks for me for presentation had I actually received this, however, I’m being sulky that (through no fault of Attica’s), I couldn’t have it, so I’m giving it a 9.5/10. My crispy artichoke was incredibly enjoyable, the combination with the mushrooms gave it a lovely umami flavour, and apart from the pretty shell, I actually thought a lot more effort was needed to create my dish with all its elements and in terms of both texture and flavour it was probably the more enjoyable to eat (6th – a really enjoyable course for both of us).

Now I’m sure your eyes are heavy and your stomach growling from all my talk of this lovely food, take a little snack break and I’ll be back shortly with part 2 – the mains.

Attica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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