Donovan Cooke Joyous Dining at Ryne Restaurant in Fitzroy North
Iconic chef Donovan Cooke has brought his culinary prowess to his new French restaurant Ryne in Fitzroy North. We've followed his career from the Est Est Est days and history in London with Marco Pierre-White et al, and we are excited about this new offering where Donovan can fully express his vast skill and passion. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to dine at Ryne and experience the menu. Ryne means "a course continually moving onwards" and we recognise Donovan's amazing culinary journey and his latest adventure.
Smile on his face. Like a popular band Donovan Cooke has released many culinary hits over the years in the top echelons of fine dining. Some of them appear on the Ryne menu (and why not) with some twists. But also there's plenty of new hits and songs currently being played. Donovan has vast experience and vast treasures to draw upon, and it's great to dine at a restaurant with a bona fide iconic chef working hard in the kitchen putting his heart and soul into each dish.
Cocktails on arrival hit the spot, including the Negroni and a gin based Cucumber Crush.
Donovan Cooke is a chef's chef. He has his set menu but also the daily specials are a revelation.
Choose your bread from the bread basket, with more bread offered at a later stage. Simple things done well.
Entree hit the high notes with Pork Belly, pear, baby beetroot, and the joy of black pudding! The pork was cooked to perfection and the skin wonderfully crisp. Refreshing seasonal elements surrounded the pork but the advent of black pudding was a perfect addition. Rich silky black pudding was a revelation on its own. This dish was bordering on a "main" course, and was a generous and hearty entree.
Donovan speaks with excitement about what he can do with ingredients such as marron, pigeon and pigs trotters. "Just give me four days notice and I can do you pig's trotters," he says. Where else can you get this kind of flexibility? Donovan is used to serving customers in settings of finery and luxury; they want it and he will provide it. From expensive champagnes to luxurious dishes. Corporates take note!
Seared Scallop Ceviche with avocado, cucumber, fino sherry, tomato gazpacho. A sense of theatre as the tomato gazpacho is poured into the bowl. Not only delicious with perfectly cooked scallops, but this was superb presentation, even the colour of the season. We know what Donovan can do with tomatoes and await more "deliciousness" during the height of tomato season.
Ryne has been packed out at weekends and attracted excellent numbers on week nights.
Wine List is strong with Donovan's daughter Krystelle Cooke an accomplished Sommelier. Her recommendation of this Reschke Cabernet was perfect with my main course.
A main course named Artichokes surprised; served with spring vegetables, preserved lemon, and parmesan. For those wanting a lighter style main course this is the perfect choice showcasing artichokes as the "hero" ingredient.
Confit kipfler potatoes were a highlight as a side dish!
Lamb saddle was a wonderful dish, featuring tender lamb and a crust to die for, along with peas, broadbeans and oven roasted truss tomatoes. A refined dish that had that slice of indulgence, a theme throughout the meal. To be honest I loved this dish compared to some of the lamb dishes I've enjoyed in Melbourne of late. The crust was outstanding and the lamb melt in your mouth. With a decent glass of cabernet this was a highly rewarding experience.
In some ways like a refined lamb schnitzel. A dish I'd love to go back to Ryne to enjoy again.
A selection of cheeses graces the dessert menu.
Brulee baby! Passionfruit Creme Brulee, coconut and lime sorbet, mango and caramelised white chocolate crumbs. Who doesn't love a brulee?
Another highlight was this Vairhona 70 Guanaja Souffle with three tastes of raspberry. The souffle was rich but not overbearing and the raspberry pairing the perfect combination. I enjoyed the three tastes of raspberry and theatre of the dish in pouring the raspberry into the souffle.
Check out the large space out the back; perfect for private functions!
Ryne is an approachable restaurant, which has attracted many locals on repeat visits. We love the set menu hits and the impressive daily specials.
The flexibility of Donovan Cooke extends also to a new bar menu; where Donovan can provide you with bar food or even a main course over wine at his elegant bar.
Still new in its expression we look forward to the ever evolving journey moving forward. Highly recommended.