March into Merivale Launch
What the Merivale website says: “We’re kicking off March Into Merivale 2011 with a gourmet extravaganza at ivy. Meander through Ash Street laneway, sipping and nibbling your way up to The Ivy Room, your gourmet destination for the evening. All of our talented head chefs (including est.’s Peter Doyle, Lauren Murdoch from the newly opened Felix and the legendary Dan Hong of recent Iron Chef fame) will be waiting to meet you on the night. So come along and sample some Merivale morsels.”
$20 entry fee (incl. 6 food & 2 drink tastings), 2nd tasting coupon only $10
Thursday 24th February, 6pm – 8pm at ivy
The Boy and I got our tickets and we sauntered off to the ivy. Yes, Merivale does seem to be taking over the world one Sydney restaurant at a time, but the fact of the matter is, that I really like quite a lot of their restaurants (not all, but a lot of them). And the others: well, they’re on my wish list. Events like these (and all of the ones associated with this launch) allow you to get a great deal on some of the pricier restaurants. And I love the tag line of “the art of food.” I love art. I love food. Surely, I’ll love it? Right?
The event was full of some of the usual crowd at the ivy that I try to avoid, the skyscraper stiletto crowd and “have I told you about my latest yacht?” type of guys. But there were also a lot of people there for the food, not just to gawk at the scantily “food” dressed promo girls. The “trees” hung with bread and cooking implements added a nice over the top touch to the event and the laneway and ivy room – level 1 were packed, but not in a pushing and shoving way.
My food highlight was Lotus’ Thai inspired sea scallop and prawn ceviche on prawn cracker. Delicately infused with coriander and chilli, the diced sea scallop and prawn successfully contrasted texturely to the crunch of the prawn cracker. The Boy and I also liked The Beresford Hotel’s (a newly acquired Merivale group establishment- I told you they were taking over Sydney) gnocci tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella. The gnocci was soft and buttery and the tomato sauce was simple but sticking to the basic equation that always works of basil + tomato + mozzarella.
The Boy wasn’t too keen on est.’s Juniper scented venison, cauliflower and coffee-cocoa tasting served on a spoon. The coffee-cocoa confusing the flavours. I tried est.’s Sashimi of Queensland scallop, apple dashi, lime and hazelnut, which I also thought was aiming for too much in the way of flavours. The apple dashi added a strange sweet flavour to the mix that my taste buds didn’t entirely enjoy. The salmon in Bistrode CBD’s cured salmon, celeraic and grain mustard wasn’t the most flavoursome salmon I’ve ever had, and Lotus’ mini pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches were a little bland. The bun wasn’t the freshest tasting.
The roll in Ash St. Cellar’s choripan – Argentinean style chorizo roll with romesco and aioli was also not the freshest tasting and the Boy ending up binning the roll, after eating the chorizo. I accidentally chose the Ash St. Cellar’s baked ricotta, fresh peas, lemon, mint and pinenuts. Now, I’m not the biggest ricotta fan, so I throw out the ricotta, but the mixture of peas, lemon, mint and pinenuts was a great combination. The oysters from Felix were served simply with pieces of lemon and were mild in flavour, creamy and fresh with only the slightest hint of the ocean on the palate.
The Boy enjoyed Mad Cow’s barbequed Rangers Valley wagyu flank steak with chimichurri sauce. It was however, a little overcooked and quite difficult to eat off a toothpick. It was being served hot from the barbeque and the chimichurri sauce delivered a wonderful aroma for the laneway, which mixed into the live relaxing music. The wine being served went down easily and we happily wandered around using our token for food.
There are some great events coming up as part of March into Merivale, including $33 lunch and dinner menus (drink included) at all Merivale establishments. They have a “passport” for you to get stamped in all venues to get $100 voucher to use and go into the running to win Peter Doyle to cook for you and 5 friends. I’ll make sure to go to some of these other events, but I don’t plan on getting my passport filled up. From these tastings I’m wanting to head back to est., Lotus and Felix for a bit more of their offerings because from such a small taste you can’t get a proper feel for the menu, service or ambiance of the actual restaurant. Although, great in terms of tastings.