Anniversary = I get to go out for dinner and not have to pay... This year my partner took me on the Tramcar restaurant, the poor thing is running out of restaurants to take me to.
Taking into consideration all our surroundings, and the workspace for the tramcar staff, Here's my thoughts on food, drinks and service. Apologies for the lack of photos, camera was unfortunately left on the bench!
First up, we were greeted by friendly staff who directed us to a clean tram stop and the tram arrived on time. We boarded quickly and within a few minutes of being seated we were served a glass of sparkling. On the table, a roasted capsicum dip and a chicken liver and cognac pate with pink peppercorns, served with wafer crackers and poppy seed lavosh. The dip was as you would expect, tasted (and looked) like a typical dip you would pick up at the supermarket, but I would be lying if I said I didn't like it. The pate on the other hand was fantastic. We had a little pot of it and devoured the lot. It was smooth and creamy and the cognac flavour was strong but not overpowering. I loved this pate so much I was even thinking about it sitting in traffic on my way to work this morning.
We began our very slow tour around Melbourne as our Maitre'd introduced himself, the chef, our waiter and proceeded to explain the menu.
We were given a selection of two dishes for each course, for entrée we opted for the Tasmanian Ocean Trout with julienne vegetables and a soy ginger reduction. The trout was a small fillet, the skin was not as crispy as I had hoped, however the fish was tender and juicy and served with just the right amount of reduction. The julienne vegetables were more a garnish than a side dish, but I was not fazed.
The entrée was served on a small bread plate. Gasp! Platting faux pas?! What would the Masterchef judges have to say about this? In my opinion? Probably not alot. If it was served in a porcelain martini glass fused to the side of a plate standing upright, I'm sure it would be considered brilliant. Hats off to this Chef who works in possibly the smallest kitchen in history, I think its quite brilliant to not compromise the integrity of the food just to fit the appropriate sized entrée plates in the kitchen.
After our initial glass of bubbles, we were then offered red or white wine, beer or basic spirits. I continued on with the Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon. I was so impressed with the waiters pouring ability! Although you are travelling along at about 2kms per hour, there is still considerable bumps, turns and stops. I'm sure anyone who has traveled on a tram with no rail to hold onto could get a good idea of this waiters working environment. Not one drop of wine, mineral water or beer was spilt on us or the table, not even the side of the glass!
We decided to get one of each of the mains on offer so that we could sample both. We had grilled chicken breast on a sweet potato mash and wilted baby spinach with a macadamia pesto sauce, and a Victorian eye fillet of beef with potato and herb rosti, onion marmalade and a rich beef jus. I'll admit the chicken was considerably dry, but flavoursome nonetheless. The beef was cooked medium rare (unless otherwise requested). It was tender and cooked well. I was a little disappointed with the onion marmalade which resembled more caramelised onions than a marmalade. The jus was extremely rich, it was almost too much. Luckily the beef had not been drowned in it so we were able to control the amount we ate.
Next... the cheese! Always my favourite course. We had a Maffra Cheddar and a King Island Blue Brie with water crackers and some fruit bread and fig paste. I was already a fan of the Maffra cheddar, easy to cut with still a good degree of crumble, a strong cheddar taste with no nasty aftertaste. The blue brie. Hmm. Usually a fan but I cannot put my finger on the taste i was getting while eating this cheese... sour? tart? tangy? made my teeth hurt? I cant explain but it was not nice at all. The cheese was still considerably cold so I wonder whether it was similar to a washed rind cheese that needs to be served at room temperature to soften the ammonia smell and flavour. Who knows, but I will not be eating that again.
Dessert! Oldie but a goody, sticky date pudding. Very rich, certainly not the best one I have had but still a nice way to top off the meal.
The service was great, staff and chef very friendly. The decor and lighting was nice, cosy and unobtrusive. After dessert they cranked up the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and the oldies next to us were singing 'That's Amore' due to the unlimited alcohol served over the three hour trip.
Memorable, we had a great time and as long as you aren't too snooty about your food, you'll find it to be a unique experience.
Something I learnt...
King Island Blue Brie leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Literally.