March Into Merivale launch

by Forager on March 5, 2009

Sydney has been teased for a while now with the March into Merivale program. Naked chefs adorned the website and menus for a month in advance. Provocative? Sure. But frankly, I’m not sure it was doing my appetite any favours. Having quickly secured a few lunches and dinners at venues offering dishes that interested me, all that was left to do was wait patiently for the program to launch. And launch it did in true Hemmes style – with each Merivale restaurant offering free tasters of their delicious offerings in separate stations placed around est. combined with a seemingly unlimited bar tab. So there is such a thing as a free lunch! And just as the Merivale might have hoped, Sydney siders turned out in force to get their pound of (free) flesh.

At this point I should apologise to my readers in advance for a few things including: poor photo quality, lack of photos covering each dish served and lack of food tasting notes. It was simply too difficult with a small portable camera on hand, people pushing and jostling whilst I’m trying to take photos and contesting with the throng of hungry hands snatching and tearing away food morsels before I could take any photographs. You know that noise Homer Simpson makes when he devours food with a flurry of hands? I swear, that was audible at every single station. And in many cases, by the time the photo had been taken, all the delicious samples were long gone. *sigh* So disappointing…

But – my friends and I did manage to sample some of the food so here’s a short rundown of some of the highlights for me. The first station I made a beeline to was Uccello as they were offering piggy morsels of goodness in the form of shaved San Daniele prosciutto. I love love love San Daniele prosciutto. The flavour of this particular type of prosciutto is mild and not too salty, allowing the porky flavour to star. Delicious! The prosciutto was sliced a little too thickly for my liking, but then again, the chef manning the prosciutto slicer was slicing as fast as he could and still couldn’t keep up with demand so really – he was doing an awesome job to get it the thickness he did!

Armed with a grissini stick wrapped in prosciutto I went off in search of the friends I’d abandoned at the door in favour of food. When I found my beautiful entourage, I noticed they’d all made a beeline for the bar and had armed themselves with a glasses of champagne whilst I there I was waving my grissini at them triumphantly! Didn’t they know that the champagne glass would only get in the way of my eating and photo taking? I guess that is what makes me the food fanatic amongst my friends.

Next on my highlights is the Teppanyaki station manned by head chef Akira Urata. This was by far my favourite station of the night, and the crab betel leaves were my favourite dish of the night. I guess that’s not too surprising a choice for those that know me as I can be a bit of a crustacean fiend. But this crab was really something else. Intensely flavourful whilst being light and refreshing. I could have eaten the whole tray in a frenzied manner much like the No Face character from that anime classic Spirited Away. I certainly wanted to (and maybe I would have if no one was in the room). The ocean trout sashimi was served with what tasted like a sweetened ponzu jelly and was just as delicious. Slid down the gullet and left a sublime smile on my face and that of my friends. My friend Oggie declares it her favourite of the night. The wagyu penny burgers were also a hit – DaniFox takes a bite of one and I watch her eyes come alive. Between mouthfuls she declares it “best.burger.ever“! So Teppanyaki was for our troupe, the best station of the night. The fact that Chef Urata was so accommodating and took time to pose in our photos and held back the masses whilst we snapped away at the dishes was so commendable and endeared him to us immediately. That and the fact that he’s so photogenic!

Having spent a couple of hours muscling our way through crowds there, my entourage’s patience had grown thin and the blatant lack of sweet treats on offer wasn’t aiding the situation. So we left and headed to Uccello at the Ivy instead. There we wound down the night with some cocktails by the pool and a few serves of the incredibly delicious Amedei chocolate fondant with banana sorbet. The rich molten chocolate gushed out when you break into the interior. Just what the Merivale launch was missing. Something sweet and incredibly decadent.

All restaurants under the Merivale Group are offering special $33 lunches and dinners for the entire month of March so check out the menu (changes each week), grab a few hungry mates and go and defy the financial crisis!

There were plenty of food bloggers at the launch so take some time to check out their sites for awe-inspiring, groan-inducing ford porn. A non-exhaustive list includes: Citrus and Candy, Here Comes the Food, Grab Your Fork, One Bite More and A Table For Two. The last three blogs have all already posted their Merivale launch experiences too. Enjoy!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen March 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Damn I think I’m the last one. Tardy tardy tardy! Wow that Uccello dessert looks gorgeous! I’ve only ever been to the Ivy bar but looks like I mite have to start venturing there for some food!

Great to meet you and your friends :)

2 Forager March 6, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Hey Karen – Lovely to meet you in person too! You’re not late – just saving the best till last right?

And in retrospect the Uccello dessert was the thing I enjoyed the most all night because it was the one thing I didn’t inhale with frightening speed…

3 Simon March 6, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Sounded like a hectic event.

Love the shot with the burgers. Though, they look so perfectly made that they kind of remind me of those plastic display food facimilies.

The toothpicks look like they’re spikes to guard against anyone trying to take three or four in a handful at once.

4 Forager March 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Hey Simon – Before I ate one of those burgers I thought wagyu in burger would be wasting good wagyu – but they’re pretty good! And if you were there you’d know that mere toothpicks would have been no barrier to the punters there. It was pretty aggressive!

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