One of the restaurants on my wish list for 2012 was Verve, so we decided to meet a friend there for dinner. Everyone raves about this restaurant on Urbanspoon so I had high expectations that I’m sorry to say weren’t really met. It was good, just not as good as we had hoped.
On that… our visit to Verve did make me wonder if you’re setting yourself up for a problem if you try a new restaurant with high expectations. Verve has recently won a hat in the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide and has a rating of 91% on Urbanspoon with 47 votes (see below for the link). Then again, maybe it was because we were spoilt on our recent trip to Melbourne? Or maybe the restaurant was just having a bad night? Anyway, on to the details of our dinner.
Due to some confusion both my friend and I hadn’t booked but there was a table available for us. This was lucky as our waitress told us they were usually booked out on a Friday. When we arrived the service was warm and welcoming and the ambience warm and modern. We perused the menu, and as usual I checked out the dessert menu to decide whether I wanted Entree and Main or Main and Dessert. I decided to go with Main and Dessert as I was keen on the ‘Milk and Cookies’ dessert. But more on that later.
We started out with a drink and all had wine by the glass to start. Their wine list is made up primarily of Australian and New Zealand wines with some French offerings. I had the Dominique Portet Brut Rose NV, Yarra Valley VIC ($12), and the guys had the Over the Shoulder by Oakridge Pinot Noir ’08, Mornington Peninsula VIC ($8). We all enjoyed our first drinks and ordered mains.
Now to the food. Sime had the Lamb Rump, roasted tomato and kipfler, zucchini puree, baby eggplant crisps, olive jus ($38). He said the meat was well cooked but the eggplant crisps weren’t crispy. He felt the olive flavour was a bit heavy for the rest of the dish so ate the olives first. He said the flavour highlight was the roasted tomatoes which were perfect, and the smear of zucchini puree was a good flavour match. All in all he was a little disappointed with his dish as he expected a better flavour combination.
Our friend had the Twice Cooked Duck, sweet potato bubble n squeak, snake beans, cooking juices ($40). He said the dish was delicious but the duck was a bit dry (which I think is a major let down when it comes to duck).
Our waitress asked if we wanted another drink so I asked her to recommend me a red to have with my steak. She brought me a glass of the Two Hands ‘Gnarly Dude’ Shiraz, Barossa SA ($9.5), which was divine. I love a Barossa Shiraz (or as some people in the Barossa call it “Shiraaaz”:)).
I ordered the Clare Valley 200 Day Grain Fed 200g Eye Fillet, mushroom and celeriac remoulade, parsley and truffle salad, shiraz sauce ($39). My steak was perfectly cooked (medium rare of course!) but its texture wasn’t as good as I had expected. There was a lovely truffle flavour pervading the dish. The mushroom and celeriac remoulade was somewhat puzzling, at first it tasted like wasabi but Sime pointed out it might have been a bit too much Dijon mustard, either way it was a strange element and didn’t combine well with the rest of the dish. The shiraz sauce was lovely and rich, but the parsley salad I didn’t eat as I found the flavours too dominant for the rest of the dish.
For our sides we ordered Wild rocket, pear, blue cheese dressing ($9) and Chinese long beans, sweet n spicy cashews ($9). The rocket salad was fresh and had some fresh lemon flavours which was unexpected. The long beans were a bit soggy and overcooked which wasn’t good. The caramelised cashew topping was yummy and sweet but didn’t have much spice.
On to dessert, both Sime and I had the “Milk and Cookies”, chocolate macaroons, oreo mousse, buttermilk ice cream ($15). OK, I only recently found this out, but a ‘macaroon’ is a coconut biscuit. A ‘macaron’ however is the French biscuit made famous in Australia last year by Adriano Zumbo. Yes, I’m a pedantic spelling nazi but as a result I was expecting a coconut biscuit. Still, I was pleasantly surprised as the chocolate macarons were the best I’ve ever had. To me that was the highlight of our dessert. Sime and I both didn’t like the presentation – mainly the smear in the middle of the plate . There was a very small portion of buttermilk ice cream which tasted strange but I’m not sure if that’s because of the buttermilk itself? We both thought some plain old vanilla bean would’ve been an improvement. Maybe the oreo mousse was the filling in our macarons as I can’t see it on the plate?
Our friend had the Affogato, two scoops of Bailey’s ice cream, shot of coffee, Frangelico liqueur ($15). The dessert was well presented, our friend enjoyed the flavours but I don’t think he liked the concept of the Affogato itself (i.e. pouring coffee over ice cream).
So overall, the service was great, good wine list, but the food let us down. It was OK to good, but it wasn’t great. When paying above $35 a main we expect a high level of attention to detail with flavours and textures. On our visit some of these important details let the food down. Sime and I both agreed that we’ve had better experiences at other local restaurants for the same price or less so we won’t be going back, and we were both sad to say this as we had such high expectations. Sigh.
Loo review – it’s a bit of an old building with an old unisex loo in need of some love (was the the original Draculas floor tiles I could see?). I’d give it a 6/10.
Verve Restaurant, Cnr T.E. Peters Drive and Sunshine Boulevard, Broadbeach 07 5526 7364