It’s currently wedding season amongst my group of friends and so I’ve been invited to various forms of hen’s nights, from raucous cocktails to life drawing. One of the classier outings was a dinner at Verge, the two-hatted Simon Denton restaurant.
As we were a large group we had a three course set menu, very reasonably priced at $65 for such a glamorous venue. Unfortunately our table was too long to fit in the front dining area so we weren’t able to take advantage of the views facing out onto Treasury Gardens.
To start, a shared appetiser of fresh goats curd, mixed Spanish olives, crisp rye bread. I’m not normally a fan of goats cheese but this was so creamy with only a hint of ‘goaty-ness’.
For mains we had a choice – I had the barramundi with wakame custard, mushroom, pea and puffed rice. The barramundi was very fresh and I liked the different textural combinations – except for the lukewarm, almost phlegmy wakame custard. But I’m probably alone in my prejudice towards all things liquid dairy, as my other dining companions didn’t seem to feel the same revulsion towards it.
The other dishes included tender lamb served with carrot in its own stock, red quinoa, sesame and rocket and a fresh-tasting risotto of local white and green asparagus and parsley, baby turnip and provolone, with the rice perfectly cooked with some bite retained in the rice grains.
As you can see, the dishes showed influences of Asian and Italian cuisine, and this became quite a confusing melange when it came to dessert.
Again, lots of play on textures with a stick of pineapple soaked in caramel on a bed of some sort of dust, white chocolate, tiny meringue accents and eucalyptus jelly and a refreshing sorbet. All plated within a quadrant. Peculiar.
People seemed dubious about the other dessert choice, a confusing plate of strawberries and cream, passionfruit anzac, frozen verjus and violets. One person described it as ‘tricky for the sake of being tricky’. However, it did evoke a lot of surprised exclamations and discussions about the provenance of each element, so in that sense the trickiness also led to some interesting conversation and debate.
In all, I enjoyed my meal at Verge. I respect the experimentation happening in the kitchen, but I think that sometimes it seemed like it was pushing the boundaries with no particular consideration for flavour enhancement or textural compatibility. It’s intellectual and sometimes challenging food, so I’d choose to go in a smaller group and select off the a la carte menu.