Eleven months on from my last visit, Restaurant Plage has relaxed even further into its Cremorne-focused groove.
There’s a comfortable feel to the dishes, even when there are a lot of individual elements on the plate. Each item is harnessed together to deliver a big umami punch; and here, vegetarian dishes are no exception to the rule.
We kick off with sake – the Dassai 50 ($14/180ml) – against a bowl of crisp, panko-crumbed Onion Rings ($13). Twenty minutes in the smoker has given the sweet rings a surprising amount of flavour. Dragged through a mango emulsion, they’re a good way to quickly appease a raging, post-work appetite.
Against an intelligent soundtrack of minimal house and techno, I pick apart a Kingfish Collar ($15) drawn from the short menu of chalkboard specials.
The charred exterior gives way to fluffy white flakes of fish, that retain their flavour against a nutty tan sauce made from sunflower seeds, butter and yuzu (Japanese citrus).
South Australian Kestrel potatoes (the ones with the cute purplish-pink bruises) come up very well in Kestrel Potato Gnocchi ($29). With black fermented onion, squash, mushrooms and truffles, this is one kick-arse vegetarian dish. The crisp, pan-fried gnocchi pieces add texture and caramelised notes against surprisingly fluffy interiors that have good structural integrity.
Billed only as a side, Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($13), are another vegetarian winner. Presented like a snow-covered garden with edible blooms, nasturtium leaves and truffle powder, the well-charred sprouts are moistened by Parmesan custard and set off by a gelatinous onsen egg. Bust it open and drag them through the egg like a dipping sauce, and you’ll get to properly experience the best Brussels sprout side I’ve ever eaten. It's worth heading in before their late season truly ends.
The sprouts actually eclipsed our shared Hazeldene Chicken Breast ($30) main, so we devoured the whole plate before even beginning to tackle it. The salty skin-topped chicken breast is balanced by a green spring vegetable emulsion, and accompanied by juicy roasted radishes, eggplant, savoy cabbage crisps, and a porcini jus.
Just think of it as a modern take on the Aussie favourite - the winner winner chicken dinner - and knock it back with a Blue Moon ($13) Belgian-style beer.
While the Mango Ravioli ($14) isn’t the prettiest dessert I’ve ever seen, it certainly shows off owner/chef Tomoyuki Usui’s wild imagination. Frozen coconut snow sits on top of a sheet of nicely tart mango 'pasta' next to a pinch of macadamia crumb. Fermented mango and a pocket of caramelised milk (think dulce de leche) are tucked underneath. The combination is crazy good, in an almost ais kacang kind of way, that should be even more appealing as the weather warms up.
Apple x Blackberry ($15) is nicely plated with sculpturally arranged super-fine langue du chat (cat’s tongue) shards dusted in blackberry powder.
They’re stabbed into nicely tart apple with mascarpone cream and a whisker of white chocolate to unite the dish. It’s funky, slightly tart and a fitting end to another solid meal by a chef who has the capacity to surprise.
8/255 Military Road, Cremorne
Ph: (02) 8384 9043
NOTE: You can see a previous review for this restaurant back HERE.