We’ve had some memorable meals this year in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Birregurra. The best was at Attica. The table direction that greets you indicates the sort of food you are in for.
I asked on Instagram, using this photo. where I was. No-one knew. These are quongdong seeds and I assume emu feathers. There was a quongdong tree a mile from home in Watchupga. It was an outing to ride our bikes there and eat them – very bitter with a very thin layer of skin and flesh around these hard wooden seeds. Very different from how they were presented later in the menu. Attica was the first place I’d ever been to which served non-alcoholic matching drinks and these are still on offer, but we all chose matching wines. Here’s what we ate and drank.
I didn’t photograph all of the courses, including the first one, Foods Of The Outback, which was quite theatrical. A little portable unit was rolled over to our table and a waiter proceeded to barbeque and present us with three items. First up an oyster – okay but you lose the taste of the sea when such a delicate thing is warmed. Second a prawn, skin removed, just cooked through and quite delicious. Finally a piece of abalone which was not in the least rubbery or tough – so perfectly cooked on the little barbeque. It was fantastic. We were able to flavour each of these morsels as we wished from a platter of with native spices and berries. Which was fun. Our next dish was Pearl Oyster On Paperbark. The pearl meat comes all the way from Broome. It’s from the oysters that produce pearls. Very fulsome; not a bit like an oyster. Very interesting – and delicious. And the paperbark was a fun way to present it – not edible though!
Alongside this dish we were presented with Recko and Ben’s Picnic Caviar. This was cute. Little pancakes (blinis) were presented in folded serviettes and we were instructed to spread them with a sour cream the so-called caviar; in fact yellow ants! Absolutely delicious – better than real caviar.
The simply named Tomatoes and Bread was anything but. The deepest, most intense flavour. As you can see, only onto our third glass of wine and I’m getting blurry! You can’t see the rectangular finger of toasted dark sour dough bread under the tomato. And I don’t know what the sauce was but it was a wonderful combination. Just delicious.
Next we had a warm salad; I didn’t really notice the name until now – Killer Salad, Lightest Touch. I’m not keen on salads in winter; and it was a very cold night. And I’ve never had a warm one before. I’d have thought such a dish would be awful – soggy and dreary. Not so. The texture was still crunchy – and it was very flavoursome. Very fresh leaves, very lightly warmed through in a very tasty stock.
Next came our Marron. The name of the dish Missed You Old Friend would indicate they’ve been unavailable for a period before this – the impact of Covid on supply chains perhaps. In any event this was delicious. You get and indication of the intensity of the flavour from the intense colours of both meat and sauce.
Ben Shewry is very keen on potato dishes. We had one when we came here for the very first time years ago on one of his experimental Tuesdays – when he tried out new dishes. On that occasion we had a very blackened potato that had been cooked for ages. I wasn’t very keen on it then and I wasn’t too keen on this Baked Potato, Potato although all the others liked it. The finger limes and creamy something that accompanied it was delicious. and the presentation was fun.
I was getting pretty full up by now and so gave some of my Beef Rib with Dorrigo Pepper to Joe. Which was a shame because it was terrific. And here’s where we got to taste quongdongs – they’re the pretty red bits on the carrots. Quite sweet – very different from those we had in Watchupga!
We then had a walk out to the internal courtyard beside the dining area. The others all managed an ice-cream and a slushy bunya bunya drink (I think). Too icy for me and I was saving up for dessert. The idea of a little walk during dinner is a very good one. We talked to a couple of other diners and got to view the super moon. So back to the Finger Lime Crème Brûlée Tart which was brought whole to the table to show it off – the stripes are all different sorts of finger lime. Very pretty and tasted wonderful – very citrussy.
We were asked at the outset whether we were celebrating anything and so after all the courses the Birthday Girl was presented with a cake and a candle – very stylish. I can’t remember whether we sang Happy Birthday!
And so we staggered out, sated and happy, into the streets of far flung Balaclava; or is it Ripponlea? Either way it’s well worth making the long trek to the other side of town to this internationally acclaimed restaurant. As I said on Instagram (and benshewry liked!) Fresh, creative, exhilarating, local!