06 March 2011

Felix: March into Merivale Artistic Amuse-Bouche, Sydney (23 Feb & 2 Mar 2011)

2 Ash Street, Sydney NSW 2000

The art of exciting the palate

Lauren Murdoch takes inspiration from global artists to create a sophisticated art-inspired tasting sensation for the oh-so stylish Sydneysiders. This contemporary expression of food being 'art' will be Lauren’s take on a French inspired tasting experience.

Thanks to Helen Lear from Stellar* Concepts Australia for organising an invitation for me to sample the March into Merivale special event of Artistic amuse-bouche ($45 per person). It's available each wednesday until 13 April between 3 – 6 pm and includes a glass of sparking and the menu changes each week depending on which artist the Chef Lauren Murdoch is inspired by. Apart from Cézanne other famous artists she has in mind are Picasso, Gauguin, Goudy, Van Gogh and Dali — I'm wondering if chocolate coated ants will make it on the menu for Dali and some pigs ear for Van Gogh.

My first visit on the 23 February was a selection of 6 small savoury tasting canapés served with a basket of assorted bread and a glass of Chandon NV sparkling ($45 per person). I thought at the time it could have been better presented on a long flat white platter all served in a line but learnt after the artist's palette they were supposed to have been served on hadn't arrived in time. The freshly shucked oyster was excellent which still retained it's briny goodness. I further enjoyed my fair share of these at the March into Merivale 2011 launch party and now have an added favourite to The Boathouse. The fair amount of Chicken liver pate was smooth and rich complimenting well with the cornichon. I was expecting more robust flavour from the Confit duck with walnuts in a butter lettuce cup and the Goats cheese & caramelised onion shallot tart would probably serve better as an entertaining canapé but was done well. The deconstructed looking Avocado with grape cherry tomatoes, capers & lemon oil had simple flavours but wasn't something easily eaten without cutlery and though could have been served on a Chinese spoon. I really enjoyed the tasty flavours of the White anchovies with olive & parsley salad although wondered if better served on a crostini or lettuce cup for easy single handed eating while drinking my glass of sparkling. I thought the amuse-bouche selection lacked a dessert component or palate cleanser to help finish off the tasting experience and for $45 it would have made it better value.

On my second re-invited visit on Wednesday 2 March it was a tasting menu apparently inspired by Cézanne with a selection of 7 small savoury tasting canapés served with a glass of French sparkling plus 2 dessert canapés. Presented with more sophistication on the intended artist's palette to match the theme and seemed to be better value although I missed the freshly shucked oyster this time. The Grilled pork belly cube with cornichon and grape was tender and juicy and had nice flavours. I really enjoyed the interesting Quail egg with celery salt and basil mayonnaise which was creamy and tasty. The Filo tartlet with goat's cheese and beetroot was looking more creative this time but wished nice tasting Mussel with roulie was a bit plumper in size. Smoked oyster with cucumber on grilled croute worked well although I generally prefer my oysters fresh. Smoked trout, caper berry, witlof leaf flavours seemed to safely work together and there was just the right amount of truffle oil with the Cherry tomato. Finishing on a sweet note with a dainty sized Financier with blueberry and small cube of Coconut meringue with blackberries would have gone very well with the inclusion of a coffee or glass of dessert wine to make it even better value and a more complete experience. I loved the presentation of the coconut meringue and it was close to being a favourite if it only had more noticeable meringue crunch present to contrast the texture and delightful flavours. The chefs complimentary addition of honeycomb sable biscuit would have been a worthy inclusion for everyone to try.

Event: Artistic Amuse-Bouche
Dates: Every Wednesday from 23 February – 13 April
Time: Visit anytime between 3 – 6 pm
Place: Felix, Ash Street, Sydney
Price: $45pp includes a flute of Chandon NV (possibly French Brut)
Bookings essential: (02) 9240 3000

PROS: Menu changes each week, Nice presentation on the artist's palette, Quality ingredients, Will suit those who like grazing on different taste sensations, Nice decor
CONS: You need to check the menu on the day in case there's something you might be allergic to or not like, Might not suit those who prefer just a main meal for $33 including glass of wine or beer (March into Merivale offer), The time wouldn't suit those who finish work late
MUST TRY: Freshly shucked oysters, Revisiting to try the normal menu and more seafood

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 – Visit #1
Chandon sparkling

Freshly shucked Sydney Rock oyster (compliments of the chef)

Toasty French bread and butter

Amuse-bouche tasting plate ($45 including glass of Chandon sparkling)

Freshly shucked Sydney Rock oyster

Chicken liver pate on a crouton with current relish

Confit duck with walnuts in a butter lettuce cup

Goats cheese & caramelised onion shallot tart

Avocado with grape cherry tomatoes, capers & lemon oil

White anchovies with olive & parsley salad

Wed, 2 March 2011 – Visit #2

Glass of Vouvray Foreau Brut, France

Tasting plate for two including a flute of sparkling ($45 per person)

Grilled pork belly cube with cornichon and grape

Quail egg with celery salt and basil mayonnaise

Filo tartlet with goat's cheese and beetroot

Mussel with roulie served in the shell

Smoked oyster with cucumber on grilled croute

Smoked trout, caper berry, witlof leaf

Cherry tomato with truffle oil

Dessert tasting plate for two (included): Financier with blueberry, honeycomb sable biscuit (chefs complimentary extra), Coconut meringue with blackberries

Coconut meringue with blackberries

Financier with blueberry

Honeycomb sable biscuit (chefs complimentary extra)

Menu inspired by Cézanne

The bar and restaurant
Casual bar seating


Lounge seating and decor


Restaurant laneway view

Restaurant seating

Restaurant seafood station

Well staffed kitchen

Outside seating

Ash street laneway


Jenny (Figs and Brie) said...

Oh gosh this is all so beautiful and delicious-looking, I'm green with envy

Monica ^o^ said...

oh wow ! they are very pretty !!! is the dessert platter part of the deal as well, or is it extra ?

Miss Piggy said...

Everything looks so pretty - too pretty to eat! The coconut meringue is so beautiful...

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Stunningly beautiful! I love how the oysters are always your fave! LOL

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Wow - the second visit is certainly pretty!

Simon Leong said...

hi jenny, be sure to check it out if you have time

hi monica, the dessert was part of the deal :-)

hi melbatoast, they certainly put a lot of attention to detail in the presentation — helping to feast with our eyes

hi joey, oysters usually are my fav if they do them well. have to be freshly shucked.

hi tina, glad they got the artists plates in, makes a good difference

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