How times have changed. Years ago when I first started dating Meat-and-Three-Veg we used to go to Syracuse after working late on Friday nights. We’d order a bottle of wine and a few tapas style dishes to share. The food was nothing special but we always loved the wow factor of dining in such an elegant setting with sky high ceilings, smoky mirror and vintage mirrors.
On the weekend I was invited to go back to Syracuse with MTV. The stunning room with its old school, classic ambience looks the same but now we’re married (with a baby in tow) and the menu at Syracuse has been transformed into something much more serious.
Chef Hugh Sanderson’s aspirations are clear in the creamy panacotta that starts our meal. It’s made from cauliflower so is savoury rather than sweet, playing with expectations.
Theres more playfulness in savoury dishes teamed with fruit. It sounds like it won’t work but actually smoked duck breast ($23) sprinkled with a foie gras powder pairs well with sliced strawberries. Tender Flinders Island wallaby ($17) is served blush pink with native pepperberries and slivers of kiwi fruit.
My favourite dish was the crumbed pigs tail ($18). Like a giant croquette it was crispy and delicious alongside a fried quails egg and some tender radishes. I also loved the beetroot salad ($15) teamed with chickpeas and creamy goats curd and topped with crushed pistachios and raisins.
It didn’t all work, the yellow fin tuna with roasted artichokes failed to deliver a flavour punch and similarly the smoked trout served with mussels and watercress looked sensational but didn’t make as much of an impact in terms of taste.
Things were back on track with the finale – a smooth crème brûlée ($15) flavoured with violet. The caramelised top cracked satisfyingly under my spoon and the addition of “passionfruit crispies” added some more textural contrast. It’s one of the best crème brûlées I’ve had in ages.
All this food was teamed with sensational wines. Syracuse has a wine list which is over 500 bottles strong so we were able to try some really interesting bottles. In particular the clos Clare riesling was a lovely balance between a mineral and dry riesling but with a hint of mandarin sweetness. Like much about our meal, it was a very pleasant discovery. If you haven’t been to Syracuse in years (like me) it’s time for a revisit.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Syracuse.
Details: Syracuse, 23 Bank Place, Melbourne CBD 3000 (Ph 03 9670 1777)
Damage: Pricey. But on this occasion I didn’t pay.