One of the greatest things about the blog we have is the invitations to various events and meals. This time, the PFEs were invited by No. 4 Blake Restaurant to experience the theatre of dining. I wondered what this would mean, and it was an educational evening!
Miss L couldn’t make it for this dinner, so I extended the invite to Miss Anise, who was surely excited to be my company for the evening.
No. 4 Blake Street is just off Walcott St and is along this unassuming street filled with a decent amount of parallel parking. One wouldn’t travel into this street if not for knowing about this place. As I got out of the car I noticed that there was a little note along the glass panels that would span the front of the restaurant…
Aww! How sweet is that! It was a beautiful, warm and fuzzy feeling within when we read that. Made us feel special for sure.
Upon entering the venue, we were warmly greeted by Madjouline and Romain – our hosts for the evening. The friendly Madjouline gave a quick introduction and directed us to our table. There was a nice feel to the restaurant, with kitchen enclosed by red velvet curtains, which gave you the feeling that you are coming to watch a show at the theatre.
Whilst waiting for the other guests to arrive, Madjouline had a quick chat with us, explaining that Romain and herself run the show for the head chef and owner, Tom, whom I only found out later was THE Tom from Tom’s Kitchen! Romain was also the in-house sommelier.
I took the time whilst the place was empty, to also grab some shots of the restaurant itself in its purest form. The back of the restaurant has an impressive collection of wines, more tables, and access to the lavatories.
As we chatted with Madjouline, a stream of familiar faces started coming through, PFJ and her partner A, Perth Munchkin, TFP and Jac, Foodie Cravings and her bro, as well as C from Sprinking of Spice (and her boyfriend) whom I met at the Fuku soft opening. It was a sheer delight because it almost felt as though we were having a reunion!
Miss Anise and I were seated with Foodie Cravings and Sprinkling of Spice during this dinner.
As we were chatting with our glasses of the Cava Mas Pere, we were delighted to see Tom coming out of the kitchen to introduce himself to us. A warm and friendly guy, I was personally excited for the dinner to commence. Tom presented us an overview of the place – from the overall philosophy behind the restaurant, to the lighting chosen as décor to provide that ambience that would be carried through the rest of the evening. The idea of a typical dinner is that there will always be two elements of surprise – the Al Dente (a pasta based dish) and the Palate Cleanser. Tom described this as the opportunity for him and his partner in crime in the kitchen to exercise their creativity. And this… is where we get the theatre of dining truly taking shape. Concept – TICK.
- Pedro Ximenez
Miss Anise was hyperventilating when she heard Pedro because of her love for the actual sherry. Needless to say she was stoked!
I loved the bread – tried both varieties over the course of the evening, and enjoyed the warmth of the bread (something that seems to be lacking in establishments these days). All the butter had a lovely taste to it, with the orange butter sending out a little bit of a conversation on our table. I likened it to marmalade butter because of how it tasted. Didn’t sit too well with some, but I personally loved it. But the ultimate favourite would definitely be the Pedro Ximenez. Something so special.
The amuse bouche was a vegetarian platter of little shimeji, porcini foam, mushroom glass, sweet corn pannacotta, and truffled popcorn. This is one of those dishes where you absolutely most definitely judge the book by its cover because the taste of the combination of those elements was simply divine! The sweetness of that pannacotta, with the salty popcorn, and the textures of those mushrooms, all culminated in that mouthful of the amuse bouche. What a wonderful start.
For entrée, we were served on alternate seatings:
- Rabbit parfait, belly presse, loin and kidney terrine, ginger tuile, pomegranate
- Goat’s cheese ‘Gnocchi’, aromatic oils, baby herbs, borage blossom, tomato water
The rabbit parfait, belly presse, loin and kidney terrine was definitely a winner, with lots of praises going around the table. Miss Anise had the rabbit combination for entrée, and she was impressed by the dish, particularly the parfait, which seem to ring true for the rest of the table who had the rabbit entrée. I had a taste, and enjoyed, but I have to say I preferred my goat’s cheese ‘Gnocchi’, which was laid beautifully in a bowl of clear (tomato) water broth.
On first glance, it is difficult to expect what it should really be testing like because of the pale nature of the dish. Yet again, we were fooled by this actor in the entrée because this was one of the best dishes of the evening! The seemingly clear water base was the carrier of a fantastic, refreshing and tasty broth that was made with love over a good number of hours squeezing cherry tomatoes and filtering it. The ‘Gnocchi’ was really interesting as there was hardly any taste of starch in each of those parcels. I am not a cheese person, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The combination of both the richness of the cheese and lightness of the broth brought much delight to the senses.
We were served with two wines chosen by Romain for the evening:
- Rockford “Local Growers”, Semillon 2002, Barossa Valley
- D’Arenburg, The “Laughing Magpie”, Shiraz Viognier 2004, McLaren Vale
I had a try of both over the course of the evening, and found the “Laughing Magpie” sitting better with me, and it went well with the duck that I had for main course as well. The Semillon was good but a tad heavy for me as a white wine.
The Al dente is a course that is served in between the entrée and main. This is one of two dishes on the menu where you will not know about till it appears on the table before you. It is a pasta dish that is creatively thought out by the chefs for the day and it changes. Element of surprise and variety – CHECK!
This evening we were served a sweetbreads tortellini with a champagne cream sauce and orange zest. All pasta is made fresh in house. Having sweetbreads in pasta is something I have never seen before, so I was in a way excited but apprehensive about trying. But that apprehension disappeared in a flash when I took the first bite. Absolutely loved it! The sauce complemented the pasta, which was really well cooked. For those who cannot imagine sweetbreads being in tortellini… and tasting wonderful – come to No. 4 Blake Street!
Mains came not too long after, with 3 varieties of mains on our table due to my fussy eating style these days. The table had the following:
- Seared duck breast, pencil leeks, poached plum, celery leaves
- Glazed pork, white eggplant caviar, mustard, cassis, eggplant crisp
- Barely cooked ocean trout, ink rice cracker, miso, cuttlefish and compressed cucumber
I would have taken the pork, but there was a bit of a misunderstanding with our special requests. So I ended up with the duck breast (made me feel rather special!). Miss Anise had the barely cooked ocean trout.
The duck breast was beautifully cooked, tender, and well seasoned – a tad salty towards the end, but with my palate for salty food, this sat well with me. The plum was a well chosen complement for the duck, with its sweetness cutting through the salty seasoning on the duck.
The barely cooked ocean trout was a winner on the table, with those who had it singing its praises. I had a little bit after Miss Anise put some on my plate without much warning and I found it to be lovely. The ink rice cracker lit Miss Anise’s eyes because of her love for squid ink dishes.
The glazed pork was cooked really well too. I had a bit to try from C of Sprinkling of Spice, and found it to be well seasoned, and had a beautiful combination of flavours. In comparison with the duck, I think the pork was the winner for me.
Then came the palate cleanser, to which we were served with a coconut sorbet with a sesame base, popping candy, sago and pineapple granita. Tropical flavours galore! This once again comes as a surprise to the meal, because the chefs get to decide what they would like to serve on the day. This was a clearly loved dish by all with everyone cleaning the plate right up from the moment it was placed on the table. Being the hungry soul that I was, I only took this photo with my phone, which was of poor quality! The most unique part of this dish was the popping candy that brought back that little bit of childhood, and the textural variety. I loved the sago as it brought me back to a place where it reminded me of home and the very many sago desserts we have. Overall a lovely surprising palate cleanser.
- Cherry & Chocolate garden: Valhrona chocolate mousse, salted peanut, dacquoise, cherry
- Textures of Passionfruit: White basil ganache, mango, salted sesame, coconut sago
Miss Anise had the chocolate garden and I had the textures of passionfruit.
It was clear that the chocolate garden was the dish of the evening in view of the moments of “awwwwwww mannnn” or “wow”… or just simple chatter amoung guests about how beautifully good this dessert was. I had a taste, and found it beautiful, with the mousse made out of wonderful dark chocolate. But I have to admit it was a tad heavy for me, particularly after being fed so well. Wouldn’t say the same view was held by the others with all the chocolate fans in the room finishing the dish up in style.
The textures of passionfruit was put in the back seat by the chocolate garden but I found this to be a beautiful refreshing dessert – really up my alley. The basil brought the freshness of the dessert out, with the mango, sesame and coconut sago giving it the decadence that one would expect to finish a meal with. It was lovely, and I would probably order it again.
The evening was very enjoyable – hosts Romain and Madjouline certain made us feel at home, and was friendly to a tee. The one thing I noticed as we guests started to leave the establishment, was the great smiles on our faces, which is certainly indicative of a great evening.
Our greatest thanks to Tom, Romain and Madjouline for a beautiful evening at No. 4. I have certainly marked it as a place to head back!
For those who are keen on knowing the prices:
Without dessert (4 courses) – $70, with matching wines $100
With dessert (6 courses) – $90, with matching wines $135
No. 4 Blake Street also serves high tea that boasts a menu of delectable delights ranging from cured ocean trout, grilled lamb with smoked eggplant, to stawberry and coconut macaron, and lemon meringue tartelette. Prices range from $42 to $62.
Narration by: S.T. a.k.a Miss Egg