This two-hat stalwart was one of the first names that came up after I tweeted a request for fine-dining vegetarian restaurant suggestions. Recommended by the lovely folks over at vego blog Where’s the beef?, Ezard has a full 8-course vegetarian degustation as part of its east-west fusion menu, of which all the dishes can be ordered a la carte. I was suitably impressed and it ended up being the venue of choice for a business dinner with some representatives from an Indian supplier.
Open Wagyu beef burger ($28)
Have I mentioned that I’ve been on a bit of a burger quest lately? I know that Ezard is hardly the sort of place that comes to mind when one thinks of burgers, and the burger here is very much an apple to the oranges that are the American-diner offerings popping up all over town. However, I just couldn’t look past it on the menu.
The thick patty had a strong smokiness, complemented by chunky onion jam, pickled cucumber, sweet brioche and a sunny-side up quail egg. Eating it with cutlery on a large white plate atop a clothed table was worlds away from the usual greasy-comforting-juice-running-down-your-arms experience of burger-eating. It was excellent, but whether or not it could really be considered a burger is debatable.
Sesame crusted John Dory ($48)
The fish was tender and flaky with a crisp exterior. It sat on a bed of minty mashed peas and watercress, accompanied by cubes of salty fried pork hock and creamy pea puree. I’m not an enormous fan of peas but this was quite well done. A satisfying main.
Dessert tasting plate to share (serves 2-3 people, $49)
Torn between the numerous tempting options, we ended up ordering a couple of dessert tasting plates. Each of these consisted of samples of all six desserts.
These were as follows (clockwise from bottom of the plate):
- fromage frais and strawberry cheesecake, basil pearls, lime syrup and champagne sorbet
- pistachio frangipane, crystallised raspberry and tonka bean ice cream
- honeycrunch ice cream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl
- espresso chocolate marquise, soft meringue, raspberry gel, blood orange sorbet
- mango bavarois, slow cooked peach, sesame seed wafer, passionfruit sorbet
- salted caramel parfait, candied popcorn and blackberry syrup
I’m not going to talk about all the desserts, but I will give an honourable mention to the salted caramel parfait. Its texture was perfectly smooth and the combination of salty and sweet elements in both the parfait itself and the candied popcorn on top was exciting.
The only dessert that failed to please was the espresso chocolate marquise which was revoltingly rich. Only for die-hard chocolate lovers, I think.
As it turns out, there had been a miscommunication and neither of the guys from India were vegetarian at all. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with the choice of restaurant.
I really couldn’t find fault with the food. I was a bit iffy on the chocolate marquise, and I found that our side of potatoes was too salty, however these could easily be put down to personal preference.
We dined on a Friday, when it is $98 fixed price per head for three courses (also on Saturdays), however I have listed the usual prices next to the meals above for reference. Apart from our three courses we ordered two sides of $11 each, bringing the total bill per person to just over $100. Not bad considering the quality of the meal.
We found the service personable and efficient and waiters were happy to translate any menu jargon without a hint of condescension. If you’re not a frequent fine-diner, Ezard is a good, reliable choice for the occasions when you do. Highly recommended.Ezard 187 Flinders Lane Melbourne