Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Pot

The Pot sits pretty amid designer boutiques and cute little coffee shops in Hyde Park – a tiled walking lane look alike that extends from King William Road. In fact it makes for such a rickety ride, you feel like the car is about to fall apart as you drive over the series of grooves. Adjacent to the Pot is Melt, a delightful pizzeria that sounds and looks fabulous. Can’t wait to try that place! I feel a bit foolish – in my one and a half years of living in little, ole Adelaide I had never been to Hyde Park before! An interesting cheese and wine providore just a few doors away confirms that a trip up to the top of King William Road is a must.

The atmosphere is intimate, cosy and sophisticated all at once. The place could possibly seat 40 – and that would be a stretch I imagine. Literally as you enter the room it envelopes you in a warm embrace. Soft, yellow lighting, warmth of the heating and quaint French bistro ambience oozes – brown paper specials scrawled haphazardly, (so much so we couldn’t make them out and missed the crumbed sweetbreads!) overhead a glass kitchen. This allows a sneak peek at the chefs in their impressive starched whites and chequered hats.

Immediately impressed by the vibe I got as I walked in the door and further elevated by excitement over the elegant menu options, my mind whirled at the journey several tasting platters would afford us that night. The Pot has long been an Adelaidian institution until recently when the owner decided to re-vamp the place by doing a French tapas inspired menu that features plates designed to share with the exception of the appetisers that the waitress warned were individual portions (fair warning). An immediate drawback was the seating. Adjusting myself in the tiny little varnished wooden tables and chairs it seems our group of four, petite to moderately sized women, were feeling a bit like Suddenly Susan – too large and awkward to fit into the space allocated to our table and chairs without leaning a little over the customers on tables on either side, or rocking the table unceremoniously every time someone needed to reach for the bread or the water. And so, the expected happened halfway through service, the water rocked our table sending water all over my friend’s bag and lap – all he did was offer her a serviette and rush off!

The tasting menu of Chef’s selection of appetiser, charcuterie, salads, seafood, meats and dessert at $48 sounded like the way to go. But the birthday girl’s friends had said they hadn’t enjoyed the chef’s selection very much on their visit.

We ordered a bunch of things to taste and share instead. All of us being gastronomy students the experience of flavours, taste and texture as opposed to food as fuel highlights any meal we sit down to. Our waitress was awfully eager to push the shoestring fries, “I’m just going to add one – you’re going to need it.” While all of us looked horrified, nodding our heads in opposition.” One word – pushy! And for what the fries – so not worth it, some wait staff need a lesson in sussing out their customers! The gastro-gals are anything but a bunch of grease, shoving fried potato crazed women!

We started our meal with much promise. The Mushroom, Truffle and Raclette Croquettes were divine. Breaded evenly and golden to a crisp, one bite yielded a delicate, smooth interior of potato pureé laced with truffle. The birthday girl keen to try oysters had ordered the Pristine Pacific Oysters from Coffin Bay, which my companions enjoyed natural, I tried it with the Wasbi Flying Fish Roe that was simply delightful, an airy puff of zing, the burst of popping roe in the mouth and then the creamy, plump oyster to chase it. Satisfied we sipped on red from McLaren Vale (can’t remember the exact winery) waiting for the rest of our meal. Two more appetisers followed. Tempura Snails in Garlic Butter intrigued all of us, and it was truly a winning combination. There is something absolutely irresistible about garlic butter – you are powerless – tearing off hunks of bread, dipping it into the butter and mopping up all that gorgeous aromatic oil, savouring it slowly, bite, by bite like a higher power has commanded you to do so! Last but not least the Wagyu Beef Tartare with Potato Chips. Succulent morsels of delicately minced melt-in-the-mouth meat destroyed by the over-kill saltiness of the chips – it was rather tragic.

Mushroom, Truffle and Raclette Croquettes

Pristine Pacific Oysters from Coffin Bay natural and with Wasbi Roe and Tempura Garlic Butter Snails
For mains we opted Poached Skate Wing, Truffle Polenta, Poached Egg and Parmesan as well as the Confit Duck and Mushroom Boudin with Red Cabbage. Both left me horribly disappointed. The Skate seemed a tad dry, definitely way too stringy – resembling over cooked chicken meat and had a spongy texture missing flavour and vivaciousness. The truffle polenta – if it was there I didn’t notice it, the poached egg was about the only component of the dish that tasted and looked as it should.

Confit Duck and Mushroom Boudin with Red Cabbage
As for the Confit Duck – let me say never have I seen it presented as a ‘roll’ as my friend succinctly described it. Shredded dried bits of confit duck formed into a roulade like stack and stuffed with the mushroom, instead of the boudin being a sausage like roll as I had expected. The red cabbage was lovely, in a rich red wine sauce, it had me dipping my fork in constantly for more, the saltiness of the dry duck working in a way I am positive the chef did not intend. Its texture and taste resembled more the Bombay duck (a kind of salted miniature Indian fish) or Ikan Billis (dried, salted Indonesian anchovies) than duck in any way! On the side we enjoyed nibbling at a salad of Roasted Baby Beetroot, Orange, Fennel and Fresh Goats Curd – refreshing yes, worth writing home about no. To me the word ‘roasted’ is not to be taken lightly, for as far as it goes as a cooking method, it imparts unparalleled flavour and is perhaps my favourite way of cooking and eating veggies. This salad of roasted baby beets missed the point completely!

Roasted Baby Beetroot, Orange, Fennel and Fresh Goats Curd

To end the night we shared the Eton Mess – Crushed Meringue, Mascarpone, Banana and Salted Butter Caramel that reminded me of a cross between rocky road nougat and a banana split. Requiring a customary sweet fix after dinner, it served its purpose. However, I spied other customers with plump Cinnamon Sugar Donuts and Mocha Sauce that looked tantalizingly divine as well as delicately dreamy lightly raised pale, lemony Passionfruit Soufflés that made our ‘Eton Mess’ pale in comparison.

Eton Mess

Shop 21, 60 King William Road, Hyde Park, SA 5061
Tel: +61 8 8373 2044

The Pot Food & Wine on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Good review Mega, duck confit compared to Bombay Duck? Sounds YUK! The journey continues..........

Cari said...

Sounds like a disappointment - an expensive disappointment! Wish I were there to experiment with you;)

MEGalomaniac said...

@ Anonymous: The journey is endless... stay tuned!

@ Cari: I have to say I was spoilt! Kristina treated us to dinner for her birthday!

Anonymous said...

Honey, I think that the time you spend writing absolute fluff about restaurants could be much better spent on your school work - learning more about Food, Wine and Dining. If you want to pass judgment - it is best to actually know what you are talking about. Quite plainly from your reviews, you still have a lot to learn. Hold your ego in check, eat out a little more, and Good luck with your studies.

MEGalomaniac said...

@ Anonymous: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, I think your critisicism is vague and pointless since you point blank think I should "not waste my time writing fluff". Blogs are designed as public forums for the exhange of intellectual thinking - and this is exactly what I am doing. Why not turn your negative remarks into constrcutive critisicm by focusing on what I am missing and could add to improve/enhance my writing. I do not/ have never claimed to know everything there is to know about food, cooking and dining, (I am continously learning and will never stop doing so) and do so by eating out frequently and my writing. The quest for this knowledge about food is fuelled by enormous passion and dedication.

Anonymous said...

Will all due respect to the chefs at the "Pot" restaurant, the experience was appalling to say the least. The morsels of food that we did get was very nice indeed, but the amount of food and the cost of each plate was a joke to say the least. We are not big eaters to say the least but almost $100 later for 2 people we went home to eat. For instance, the garfish dish contained 3 fillets (slithers as big as sardines). This equated to 1.5 fish costing approximately $17.00. The joke for the night was why wouldn't they give us the last half of the fish...hehehe. A couple next to us was horrified at the size and cost of the dished also. Felt truly ripped off in so many ways. Don't make the same mistake we made.