Philippa Sibley is known as the dessert queen. It was a reputation established with Sibley’s famous take on a Snickers bar which lead to Masterchef appearances and even a dessert cookbook PS Desserts. However it seems like Sibley is trying to distance herself from her dessert queen title and media reports around the opening of her new restaurant, Albert St Food and Wine, have emphasised Sibley’s desire to show she can do more than desserts.
|Cocktail time at Albert Street Food and Wine|
It’s a great looking restaurant, set in an old bank building with high ceilings and the safe in operation as a wine cellar. There’s a big bar area for solo diners to sit at and even a store for Brunswick locals to pick up the type of gourmet provisions you might struggle to find at Barkly Square. Albert St Food and Wine has only been open a few months and already it is difficult to get a booking. I had to meet MTV and my friends Tom and Beth there for dinner at the very senior citizen time of 7pm on a week night as all other time slots were booked out.
Of the starters we tried the highlights were the watermelon salad ($16) and the heirloom tomato salad with avocado. The compressed watermelon had an intensely sweet flavour that contrasted with the saltiness of the Persian fetta that it was teamed with.
|Heirloom tomato salad|
A fat, juicy pork cutlet ($29) was almost buried beneath a pile of finely sliced red cabbage, radicchio and apple which overwhelmed the dish while spaghettini with prawns and grilled corn ($26) was a bit light on the prawns. The best option was the lamb gnocchi ($28) which featured a slow cooked, tender lamb ragu with celery leaf gnocchi.
There is a thoughtful wine list which offers wine by the carafe as well as the bottle and a decent cocktail list although the bar tender did not know how to make a caprihina.
|Poire Belle Hélène|
However the rest of our meal really paled in comparison once we got to the desserts. A Meyer lemon tart ($14) was faultless, delicately wobbly while still smooth and firm. The crowd pleaser was the Poire Belle Hélène ($15) a poached, lightly spiced pear served with a molten chocolate pudding. Truly sublime. As much as Sibley tries to escape the dessert queen title, the desserts on offer at Albert Street Food and Wine only cement her position.
Details: Albert St Food and Wine, 382 Sydney Road Brunswick 3056 (Ph 03 8354 6600)
Damage: Pricey. Our bill came to $375 for four.