Saturday, January 13, 2007

Three, One, Two, Drummond Street, Carlton

Three, One, Two, Drummond Street, Carlton
Saturday 13 January, 2006

During our last trip to Melbourne we dined at Circa at the Prince Hotel where Andrew McDonnell was the Executive chef. Whilst he still holds that title he is now also the head chef at Three, One, Two which recently picked up the following awards,

The Age Good Food Guide 2007-:
- Best New Restaurant
- Chef of the Year

Gourmet Traveller Australian Restaurant Guide-:
- New Restaurant of the Year
- Two stars

This dining space used to be known as Mrs Jones but has been remodelled to house Three, One, Two - not surprisingly located at 312 Drummond Street, Carlton. We arrived for our 7.30pm booking, were confronted by a large black velvet curtain beyond the front door (which you enter through) and were warmly greeted.

The front room is very small & intimate and we were seated along the wall near the bar. We later learnt that there is minimal seating past the bar (chef's table) and a private dining room upstairs (the toilets are also located upstairs and after a few drinks it is a challenge to navigate the steep, small staircase).

The decor is minimal with landscape oil paintings lining the walls and a very bizarre netting hanging in the front window. Not sure what this is representing other than slightly disguising the view from the street. There are wooden floor boards, wooden chairs and tables and a bar along the rear of the front dining room that is propped up at one end by the leg of a hoofed animal (goat?). Regardless, it is an intriguing, mis-match of decor, colour and offers many talking points.

Our waiter left us with the degustation menu to review while we enjoyed our cocktails - White peach bellini's. We wondered why she had left us with the degustation menu only but didn't question it - the cocktails were lovely so we were happy!

She returned a short time later and asked if we had any questions about the menu. It became obvious at that point that the degustation menu was the only menu on offer. So, 6 courses for $90 plus a few supplements was what we ordered. This comprised:

1. Cigar - fabulously presented in a cigar box - this was a thin roll of wafer filled at one end with a clear balsamic jelly and a fig & olive tepanade at the other end. This was spectacular - not only was it innovatively presented but it was also an explosion of flavours in your mouth.

2. Chilled almond milk soup with Pedro Ximenez jelly - three small cubes of jelly arrived at the table in a large dish. Our waiter placed these on the table and then poured the milk soup over the top. Wow! The soup tasted like sweet cauliflower and the jelly tasted like raisins and currents.

3. Crab cocktail, cured kingfish and avocado - this was my favourite dish of the evening - the crab was served in small round pieces and the cured kingfish was presented alongside the avocado in a thicker, mayonnaise type cream. The flavours were fresh, summery and incredibly more-ish.

4. Aromatic seafood braise of snapper, scampi and clams - presented with thick chunks of seafood and a delightful sauce.

5. We had a choice here of (a) Roast chicken & bread salad with bacon sauce, braised lettuce, peas and mint or (b) Slow cooked grain fed striploin with sauce ravigote (with fresh black perigord truffles - $15 supplement). Without hesitation we decided to go with the grain fed striploin and the supplement. Unfortunately, the black truffles did not enhance the dish in any way (if anything, they were miniscule shavings that hardly rate a mention)

6. La Petit Chervot, a semi mature French goats milk cheese with fresh pear ($15 supplement). Yes, please! Gorgeous, creamy cheese served with shaved, toasted wafer thin crisp bread.

7. White peach & champagne granita - a light, welcome break - refreshing and great use of stone fruit.

8. Fig, caramelised pastry & chocolate granache with Armagnac cream - rich, generous dollops of granache & cream - incredibly naughty but very, very good.

As this was a degustation menu the servings were small but adequate - we certainly didn't leave hungry. The service was good (minus the lack of explanation about there being only one menu on offer) and the staff were knowledgeable and friendly.

At the end of the evening Andrew McDonnell came out into the dining space and by sheer luck swung past our table and enquired about our night - we enjoyed a brief conversation with him before he ducked back into the kitchen. I thought this was impressive and always get a buzz when any chef comes out into the dining room as it is probably the last thing they want to/ feel like doing.

I was impressed by Three, One, Two - it's a shame they are located away from the hustle & bustle of Carlton and the building interior needs a makeover but overall it was a great experience.

Three, One, Two - 312 Drummond Street, Carlton - (03) 9347 3312


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