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Review – Dijon Restaurant

By dr. faustus - 27 November 2006 14

The 2007 edition Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide has been recently published, and it contains a small section on the eateries of Canberra. Being fans of good food, we have resolved to check out as many as we can. We’ve resolved to try one a month. This month’s restaurant of choice was Dijon (also previously reviewed on the RiotACT).

One of the reasons we settled on Dijon was their degustation menu. For those not up on their gastronomical nomenclature, a degustation, or tasting, menu consists of a number of smaller courses – from as little as five to as many as fifteen, depending on the establishment. The A La Carte menu of any restaurant is inevitably a compromise between the interests and strengths of the chef, and the commercial imperatives of the market place. A degustation menu, on the other hand, allows the chef to show off – to prepare a number of dishes which showcase their talent.

Generally you expect the courses on a degustation menu to be quite small servings – potentially no more than a mouthful. It should be a pretty damn good mouthful, however. And typically they will serve the courses with matched glasses of wine. At Dijon, our servings were consistently entree- rather than mouthful-sized.

One of the interesting features of Dijon is that they don’t have a set degustation menu. They tailor it to your own likes. In practice, this means they give you a copy of the A La Carte menu, and you tell them what you’re interested in. As it turns out, there were quite a few things we were interested in – although not all of the menu was available in the form of degustation options.

We opted for the seven course menu (a five course is also available), which consisted of the following (as far as we can collectively remember):

  • Crisp fried soft shelled crab with chilli caramel dressing, served with a semillon. This was fantastic – half a crab each, deep fried in a light batter. The crab was wonderfully juicy, and the shell was satisfyingly crispy. The chilli caramel dressing was very sweet, and it overpowered the semillon to some degree.
  • Seared scallops with a cherry tomato butter sauce and rocket salad. The scallops were crisp-edged on the outside and just warmed through in the middle. Typical of everything we had here, they were carefully treated and perfectly cooked.
  • Harissa spiced swordfish with coriander yoghurt and a caperberry, pickled cucumber and watercress salad. My partner, not normally a fan of ‘meaty’ fish, happily raved about this delicately flaking apart example. The pickled cucumber was possibly surplus to requirements.
  • Caramelised duck liver parfait with poached pear and toasted brioche. A more informed foodie than I, my partner voiced her (possible incorrect) opinion that it wasn’t today’s brioche (a yeasted bread made with butter), but the parfait (paté, essentially), with a crisp, caramelised top (kind of like a creme brulee), was delicious. Whilst a nice contrast to the parfait, personally I wasn’t sure what to do with the pear.
  • Crisp pork with a sweet chilli sauce. These shreds of deep fried pork were salty, crunchy and sweet all at once, kind of like the ultimate pork crackling.
  • Something with beef that we can’t remember – but we remember that it was good!
  • Peanut brittle parfait and chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce. If I’d had this dessert for all seven courses, I would have been happy. This was served with an excellent botrytis semillon dessert wine.

We ended the meal with excellent coffee. Also worth noting was the butter, flavoured with black truffle, to go with the house-cooked bread.

A table near us ordered a five course degustation, in which they had quail for one course, and fresh oysters with granita for another, but their menu otherwise overlapped quite a bit with ours. They seemed to be having an equally good time.

In terms of ambiance, being located in a bit of a shopping strip with neon opposite detracts a little, but the interior space is classy and comforting. We sat in leather chairs – nicely padded and a perfect height for the tables. The wine was apparently served in Riedel glasses, of which we used several styles over the course of the meal. The service was casual and friendly, even informal, but extremely efficient and professional. It was obvious that the staff cared. For seven courses with matched wines, and a pre-dinner glass of bubbly, there wasn’t much change from $300. Not cheap, but worth it. By the time we staggered out, we were full, but not bursting; tipsy, but not pissed. Overall, the meal was outstanding, each course more than pulling its weight. And given that we had a lot of influence over what we had, we can highly recommend it for someone after the variety of flavours and textures that degustation brings, but without the pre-determined experience that degustation can be.

(Cross-posted from The Killfile.)

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14 Responses to
Review – Dijon Restaurant
S4anta 3:02 pm 30 Nov 06

dirty friggin laksas.

Avy 2:37 pm 29 Nov 06

DID SOMEONE SAY LAKSA

nyssa76 5:52 pm 28 Nov 06

A closer look at their website tells us that they can do vegetarian upon request.

Danman 2:50 pm 28 Nov 06

No update – just go to Thai Gardens.

Or at least go there for a laksa whgen doing the update.

Maelinar 2:21 pm 28 Nov 06

That reminds me, I’m overdue on a Canberra Laksa update aren’t I ?

toriness 1:34 pm 28 Nov 06

Another easy vego option is grilled haloumi cheese with something like roast butternut pumpkin and other grilled vegies, or a goat’s cheese tart with beetroot coulis – both of which I had at Element on Friday night. Yum!

dr. faustus 12:16 pm 28 Nov 06

Did you happen to note, or can you remember, if there was a list of courses with no seafood? Or was it seven courses of whatever you choose, 5 courses of whatever you choose, etc etc?

Of the seven course degustation, we chose five courses, I think (including desert). But we could have left it all in their hands.

They do a lot of seafood, so I don’t know if you could chose to have a five-course degustation without seafood, but I’m aware of at least two pork dishes (one of which was a special),a beef and a quail dish, so it’s probably possible. They have their menu on their web site, and most of the degustation courses were off the menu, so that’s probably a good place to start.

The staff were very helpful, including when I rang and asked about the degustation menu, so I’d give them a call and see what they can do.

Danman 11:26 am 28 Nov 06

toffied balsamic glaze = above dressing.

RandomGit 11:24 am 28 Nov 06

Did you happen to note, or can you remember, if there was a list of courses with no seafood? Or was it seven courses of whatever you choose, 5 courses of whatever you choose, etc etc?

Danman 11:20 am 28 Nov 06

How hard is it to put a few vego options – one that springs to mind is an oven roasted vegie stack with bulgarian fetta and a toffied balsamic glaze – when I worked in a cafe we sold char grilled sweet potato and red cap foccacias with cheap attiki greek fetta and the above dressing. They moved out the door pretty quick – I certainly had my fill of them – they were delicious.

toriness 11:04 am 28 Nov 06

Being a fan of fine dining myself, I’ve wanted to go to Dijon for a while. However whenever I have checked out their menu on my walk to work – no vegetarian options. Maybe it’s a case of ringing ahead and informing them of my non-meat-eating status but I am always disappointed when there isn’t at least one or two vego options on a restaurant menu – without having to ask especially for them.

dr. faustus 10:49 am 28 Nov 06

Whilst I didn’t really expand on all of the wines we got, mainly as we couldn’t remember most of them, each course came with a different glass of wine. So including our pre-dinner drink, that was eight glasses of wine covered in that price. Given that they were without exception good wines, I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable.

A few months ago we had dinner at Aubergine, and whilst it was also excellent, for much less food and wine we paid somewhere between $200 and $250 (can’t remember exactly) for three courses for two people.

Fine dining is expensive business, and obviously not everyone would consider that a good use of their money. But if you can afford it every now and then, in my opinion it’s well worth it.

S4anta 10:31 am 28 Nov 06

suck it in VB. Dijons worth it mate.

Vic Bitterman 10:00 pm 27 Nov 06

Wow.

Sounds fantastic!

But shy of $300 for 2 for a dinner, including wine?????? What a rip off.

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