Prix Fixe A Dining Adventure
Prix Fixe has quickly become a darling of the Melbourne culinary scene (breaking news: now closed), with Chef Philippa Sibley Melbourne royalty with a string of culinary successes over the years. Bravo for a sense of adventure with the themed menu, cleverness and inventiveness around the cuisine and superb service expected at a top notch restaurant. Surely dining out should be exciting, and Prix Fixe delivers. The World Loves Melbourne had a fabulous night at Prix Fixe courtesy of Cake Wines - a wine company who is promoting "matched" food and wine dining experiences at various restaurants in several capital cities.
Prix Fixe was for The World Loves Melbourne one of the highlights of the culinary year so far, and it's no surprise to us they appear in The Age Good Food Guide 2015 Finalists (for Restaurant of the Year). I've visited several establishments in Melbourne that boast perennial favourites on the menu, yet there's something about the culinary fortitude of a chef and team that commits to a complete menu change each month. And then makes it work!
For us it's all about the overall dining experience, not just the intracacies of a dish or two. Prix Fixe delivers something unique in presenting a monthly themed dining experience. We were drawn to the theme of The Chronicles of Narnia, as something that illicits fond memories from childhood. I have to say there was a sense of excitement as we entered Prix Fixe to encounter an array of hanging fur coats, something like emerging from the wardrobe in The Chronicles.
Prix Fixe has a set monthly themed menu with a couple of additions available - such as these Coffin Bay oysters with a glass of G.H. Mumm. So clean, so much flavour of the sea, and couldn't be better with a glass of high class champers. I was here with Melbourne coffee legend Jonathon Sciola, who is a man who appreciates nuances and finery.
Prix Fixe this August was "taking traditional English classics to modern heights". The Cream of Celery soup, Stilton, walnut got us thinking Philippa Sibley has something of the genius of CS Lewis. This soup was a wonderland of its own, with creaminess and crunch, and the salty rich masterstroke of Stilton blue cheese (expressed as ice cream!) from England. I wanted to storm the kitchen "Oliver style" for some more (sorry wrong theme I know)...
We imbibed with the matched wines, which I highly recommend (thanks again to Cake wines for the experience). The Equipo Navazos I Think Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda from Spain was a sensational match as a Spanish quality sherry with its freshness and complexity.
A symphony was A Winter Picnic... What could be more iconically British than Scotch Egg, potted shrimp, cucumber sandwiches? But this is with the Sibley twist and touch.
The Scotch Egg was almost delicate, not a heavy fatty dish at all. This was on the money with cooked sausage meat but still managing to keep the egg slightly runny. The Potted shrimp was a delightful rendition of a dish that hails from Lancashire, with a comforting butter hit. A Winter Picnic put us in nostalgic overdrive...
I wish I'd been served cucumber sandwiches like these at tea in the cricket at my grammar school. So delicate with a gin infusion.
Prix Fixe below with props and curtains and is a wonderland of adventure...
It was then the waitress served a magnificent 2011 Tessellae Carignan Vieilles Vignes from France to match the Lamb Suet pudding...
Tea with Mr Tummus! The Lamb suet pudding, minty peas and carrots was a triumph. The suet is a fat based food as an alternative to lard and formed the casing around the lamb. So British. Lamb served as a pudding is so perfect on a Melbourne winter's night - something that Sibley must have had in mind with this theme.
As my friend Jonathon remarked, "there is so much love in this food!" The pudding would have taken some time to prepare, and the lamb itself was melt in your mouth. Quoting Mr Tummus this dish was like a Narnia lullaby...
The minty peas and carrots were first class but it was the finesse of serving them in this delicate pot that also impressed.
Another highlight (and variation within the set menu) was the Cheese Please featuring English cave aged, cloth bound Cheddar, pickled quince, oat cakes.
Dessert kept up the high standard and sense of adventure, with this Snow Queen, featuring Turkish delight, pistachio, white chocolate. This dessert looked queenly with its towers of white chocolate shards. Behind the mystery of the shards we enjoyed ice cream and a wonderful chewy layer of Turkish delight, not to mention the layer of pistachio at the bottom.
The Snow Queen laid bare...
Philippa Sibley has kept such high standards over the years and I've enjoyed eating in several of her restaurants (Est Est Est, Ondine, Circa, Luxe, Albert St Food & Wine etc). This is another pinnacle. A thrill was to meet Philippa - yes, you can see her in action cooking from the kitchen visible near the entrance. Right now she's a queen of Melbourne and a queen of Narnia.
Thanks again to Cake Wines for their support of restaurants and celebrating experiences like Prix Fixe. MATCHED is an idea that’s about exploring “kitchens that don’t live in the limelight”, sharing stories from the chefs that run them, and giving some much needed love, and exposure, to the restaurants, cafes, tapas/wine bars and gastro pubs that sometimes get drowned out in our celebrity driven food world. Cake Wines want to promote these unsung heroes and have asked them to match their favourite dishes to Cake wines.
Prix Fixe adds value to the culinary scene of Melbourne, bringing colour, adventure and sophistication. In fact Prix Fixe has quickly become "distinctively Melbourne". I can't wait to see next month's theme!