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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dinner @ Fenix Restaurant

Even though we weren't overly impressed with our lunch our intention was always to return and see how it was progressing. We've kept an eye on the buzz and reading reviews on Urbanspoon did leave us a bit concerned.

As we drove past we noticed that the restaurant looked empty - not a good sign we thought. On entry we discovered that wasn't the case at all - just that all the customers had been herded into the dining area at the back. We're not ones for crowds, so we elected to be seated downstairs by the windows.

Another surprise was in store with the menu -  a special limited December menu was available with a choice of 5 entree/5 main/5 dessert.

For starters:

Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo

Cured Organic Salmon, lemongrass, spanner crab, pickled ginger, avruga caviar

First good sign was that it wasn't drowning in olive oil however it was a very much a case of too many ingredients. The Pickled ginger was quite overwhelming in flavour and basically killed off the crab and salmon. The caviar was rendered pointless apart for the "oh look there's caviar on my dish".

Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo
Slow cooked duck egg, trio of truffled fresh peas, cured ham

This is served with a jug of beautiful pea soup that is partially poured at the table. The issue with this dish is that is has been served on a stone cold plate so you get an unappetising minging of temperature between soup and contents. The egg resting against the plate is cold, the upper half, still had heat left in it. Taste the soup in the jug, wonderfully warm, pour it into the bowl, it quickly becomes tepid. A shame because it would be a good dish.

Mains:

Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo
Braised neck of new season lamb, zucchini flowers, tarragon scented jus

It's a bit rude to list "zucchini flowers" on the menu when in fact you are served, one zucchini flower that has been cut in half. The braised neck was as good as you could get, tender, flavoursome - just wonderful. The unappetising brown smear however was awful - the main flavour coming from it was of cumin which just didn't work. We only found out what it was when we asked, apparently it was babaganoush.

Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo
Roast pigeon, puy lentils, salsa verde

They ran out of squab so pigeon was substituted and forgive me in channelling my inner Michel Roux Jr from Professional Masterchef but this is served in the wrong plate - things that need to be cut shouldn't be served in a bowl. On the outside it looked wonderfully roasted but instead of having crisp flesh, it was flabby and soft.

Sides:
Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo
Steamed kipfler potatoes with parsley butter

This was the best dish of the night.

Dessert:

Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo
Pyengana cheddar, quince chutney, fig and anise bread

To my surprise no fig and anise bread, what I get is toasted sourdough. Cheese is delicious but I did not like seeing underripe grapes on my plate - one also had a large insect hole through it. It's not really the season for grapes, better to leave them off.

Fenix Restaurant© by Haalo
Apple and blackberry crumble souffle, calvados creme fraiche

The souffle, crumble and creme fraiche were all very nice but the sauce served was spectacularly wrong. Neither one of us can really work out what it was or what it was supposed to be but it seemed to be a butter based sauce. If added to the souffle it dissolved the souffle into an unappetising sludge.


So what do we think of this meal? There are mistakes that shouldn't be happening and let down what would otherwise have been good dishes. Our experience was no-where near the horror stories on Urbanspoon - generally service was good, though there were some lapses but nothing too traumatic. It's hard to make a complete judgment based on such a limited menu but improvements need to be made - you can't just ride along on Ma$terchef hype.


The details:

Fenix
680 Victoria Street
Richmond

Phone: 9427 8500

Open:
Coffee/Breakfast - Daily from 8.30am
Lunch - Monday to Saturday - 12 to 3pm
Lunch - Sunday - 12 to 5pm
Dinner - Monday to Saturday - from 6pm
Happy Hour - Friday - 5pm to 7pm
Scones & Cream and Tapas from 3pm daily

web
fenix.com.au

Fenix on Urbanspoon

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