So many new restaurants open every week in Melbourne is always a good news for the foodies. Being a CBD dweller, I do sometimes literally pick a street and start trying each of the restaurants one by one whatever looks attractive enough to catch my attention when walking past. Voila! The new kid on the block of Queen and Little Bourke corner - Saxe. A two-storey restaurant with a modern open kitchen and bar on the ground floor which you can see through the glass windows on the street. The name Saxe sounds interesting too, the colour saxe blue. As usual, check it out from the reliable professional food critic reviews. Yup, got to try it as it's a new solo venture by chef Joe Grbac. I went to chef Joe's previous co-owned restaurant Saint Crispin on Smith Street a few times, really enjoyed the food there. Now ever better as Saxe is just a few blocks from home.
As we climbed up the concrete staircase to the 2nd level, it's an elegant fine dining room. One side of the wall is decorated with light grey-coloured wooden panels and royal blue banquette. The dark oak tables, royal blue seated chairs and the warm lighting create a cosy and relaxed ambience. At the beautiful street view end, the big mirror on the bare white brick wall reflects a lovely view of the trees outside and also the room itself. A cleverly designed contrast of the light-filled room.
Let's talk about food now. The menu has three to four dishes to choose from starter, entrée, main to dessert. In each course, there is a vegetarian dish as well as a seafood dish to suit the vegetarian or pescetarian diet. On the night, we decided to choose the 5-course degustation chef's selection.
Appetiser - turmeric crisps, prosciutto "terrine" and seaweed bread rolls. A real joy to start the dinner with these multi-ethnic snacks packed with surprising flavours. I was so impressed by the bread rolls. They are as soft as the brioche infused with the savoury seaweed taste... little beauties.
South Australian tomato, pickled watermelon, cucumber, purslane, tomato air - only good chefs can put magic in the humble vegetables and turned them into a sophisticated dish. An amazingly refreshing entrée .
Quail breast and leg, Coffin Bay vongole, lettuce emulsion, celtuce, daikon - perfectly cooked little tender breast and leg. The lettuce emulsion is such a smooth and tasty sauce. Definitely the word "lettuce emulsion" is a new addition to my food vocabulary now! The whole dish is an interesting combination of ingredients... quail, vongole (baby clams), daikon (Asian white radish) and lettuce all work brilliantly together.
Mooloolaba swordfish, zucchini flower, mussel, saffron, basil - a daishi-like clear fish broth infused with saffron and basil is a delightful complement to the fresh seared swordfish and mussels. Love the natural clean sea flavours of this dish.
Western Plains pork, burnt carrot puree, sunflower seed, coffee granola, soy milk jus - the contrasting textures of the succulent meat and crunchy granola are right on point. This dish is packed with complex flavours and an appealing hint of coffee with pork. Just wow!
Poached stone fruit, Preston Elderflower, chilled rice pudding vanilla - simply classic textured poached peach with elderflower and fresh nectarine matched with creamy vanilla rice pudding. Perfect for the non-chocoholic to finish off a scrumptious meal.
70% single origin chocolate tart, Black Mission fig, salted caramel, walnut, penja pepper - Oh là là! A seriously delectable chocolate tart... perfect shortcrust, velvety chocolate with a surprising hint of pepper. No one ever says "No" to the trio palate of chocolate, fig and cream. A truly sublime dessert.
The wine menu has a good 100 selections mainly from France, Italy, Spain and Australia of different varietals. Majority of the bottles are under $90. What caught our eyes on the night were two bottles of reds. We started with the Wightman Pinotage 2012 from South Africa. It felt like seeing an old friend again of drinking the Pinotage. Pinotage used to be one of our favourites when living in London. The 2nd bottle was a 14 years old Terre delle Falcole Chianti Classico 2003... it's wonderful to find a beautifully aged Chianti, cheers to the sommelier! If you are not a wine drinker, there are some interesting cocktails and craft beers to suit your mood too.
My favourite savoury - Western Plains pork, burnt carrot puree, sunflower seed, coffee granola, soy milk jus
My favourite dessert - 70% single origin chocolate tart, Black Mission fig, salted caramel, walnut, penja pepper
It was such a wonderful meal at Saxe. All the dishes were perfectly executed with the use of high-quality ingredients and refined cooking techniques. I can only imagine each element on the plate required hours of preparation with blood, sweat and tears! Bravo to chef Joe of his refinement on creating those beautiful and truly scrumptious dishes.
Saxe's fine dining room is a lovely place for a romantic dinner or catching up with family and friends. Beautiful food and wine served by friendly attentive staff. I'm looking forward to the next seasonal menu for a visit again or maybe just pop by at lunch to try the bar menu when I'm having a day off from work. Hope you will have a fabulous time at Saxe too. Bon appétit!
211 Queen St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9089 6699