Thursday, November 4, 2010

embrasse 2: vegetables, porky pork

Place: Embrasse Restaurant
Physical: 312 Drummond Street, Carlton

Back to Embrasse. This time for lunch.

Now, important point. As a general rule, I don't go to restaurants twice. I come. I see. I eat. I go somewhere else. There are a lot of places I want to try so there's not much time to for return visits. Embrasse, like MoVida, is worthy enough for me to make an exception.

Embrasse's lunch menu is, relative to their dinner menu, reasonably priced. $38 gets you two courses and a glass of the house wine (red or white). $45 gets you three courses and a glass of wine. You have three entrees, three mains and three desserts (including a selection of cheeses) to choose from. The website mentions petit fours thrown in with both lunch menus but, no, you don't get those.

First up, the entree: asparagus lightly coated in crispy crumbs, served with an 'egg yolk emulsion' (Embrasse, I suppose, is too flash to serve its customers mayonnaise) and a wee piece of slow-cooked pork belly. I stopped reading the entree menu right there, I must admit. I like--really, I do--ocean trout and everything else, but I can't go past pork belly. Can't. The pork belly was among the piggiest I've ever tasted. You know how a lot of pork you buy is just bland? Generic protein? This pork belly, slow-cooked and, at some point, steamed (the waiter was a little unclear about the cooking method), tasted like pig. Childhood flashbacks to grandma's roast pork and etc. The asparagus, too, was really nice. Made me wish I didn't have utility Riesling (which was okay, I guess) and instead had a beer. Really, I'd have taken Carlton or anything they'd been willing to pour me. This food, as delicate as it looked, was, to me, an utter savage in such matters, more beer food than cheap Riesling food.

The second dish was beautiful. The medley of vegetables, available as both an entree and main on their dinner menu, is an ode to the wonderful flavours, textures and colours of seasonal vegetables. Everything is perfectly cooked and tastes really good. There are vegetables cut this way and that. Whole infant turnips. Brightly coloured purees. As a child I fucking hated vegetables but this, if I'd had this, would've, even as a snotty-nosed little shit, understood the potential of stuff pulled from trees.

All in all, I'd say lunch was worth it. A little treat to myself for finishing seven years of study that I wasn't able to finish last week, when I actually finished seven years of study. Embrasse's service is polite and efficient whether you're in a large group, ordering lots of food and lots of alcohol, or on your own partaking in the lunch special. The wine was mediocre but I expected as much--a nice glass of wine, here, at dinner time, costs a pretty penny, so anything thrown in with lunch, all complimentary like, was bound to be mundane. I'd have preferred a steadying glass of beer, but hey, my fault for not asking if that was possible.

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