Tag Archives: Ben Shewry

Dan & Ben’s Excellent Adventure – When Attica met Coi

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-019Event: Dan & Ben’s Excellent Adventure   Date: 11 Nov 2013  Location: Attica, Melbourne

(Note: Big thanks to Harvard Wang for the great photos www.harvardwang.com)

They may speak with different accents and live on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean but there’s more similarity than the eye meets between Australia’s greatest chef, Ben Shewry from Attica, and his good friend Daniel Patterson from the highly acclaimed 2 Michelin starred restaurant, Coi. Just like Shewry, Patterson made a successful career away from home in California and has featured on San Pellegrino’s Top 100. Absent of pretense in their food, you seldom come across two people with such sincere humility and deep respect for each other. Their equally matched obsession and endless curiosity around produce, foraging and a sense of place suggests they may be brothers separated at birth. It therefore wasn’t a surprise to find out that the two chefs would be cooking together in November 2013 when Patterson was touring Australia to promote his latest book, Coi: Stories and Recipes.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-001With the exclusive one night event at Attica selling out almost immediately after the announcement, getting a table was no easy feat. Other than the food related celebrities like Matt Preston and a handful of prominent writers, it felt as if we were dining amongst extended relatives to the Attica team that evening. Amongst the jovial banters and laughter that echoed across the dining room all night, you couldn’t help but feel as if you were attending a family reunion, and an extravagant one if I may add.  Melbourne-Attica-Coi-004The menu that evening was carefully designed to incorporate a balanced number of dishes from both chefs. Shewry kicked off the evening with the Black Broadbean Leaf with Rotten Corn (Attica), which was essentially black broadbean leaves from his garden served with fermented corn juice emulsified with egg yolk, and sprinkled with forest anise and alpine pepper.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-005The second dish of the Australia Bowl (Coi) was Pattersons take on Down Under and adapted from his signature dish of the California Bowl. It had the perfect crisp and delicately balanced toppings. It consisted of brown rice that had been puffed and dehydrated, topped with charred avocado purée, sprouts that Attica had been sprouting over the last few weeks for Patterson, red dust of beetroot powder, vinegar powder, native pepper and Californian spice (aka espelette pepper, originally from France).

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-008Ben’s classics hit of the Snow Crab and Sorrel (Attica) of course made it on the menu and as always left the dining room speechless, followed by a few mutters of “mmmm’s” and “ahhh’s”. The snow crab had been steamed and picked delicately to ensure all the shell had been removed. The sorrel leave compressed in verjus and grapeseed oil blanketed over a purée made from whole mandarins, buckwheat, mustard flowers and spiced vinegar. Some dusting of the native bush tucker pepperberry to finish.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-010Asparagus cooked in its juice (Coi) and seared, served with a meyer lemon sabayon, citrus oil, juice of asparagus, and dusted with seaweed powder. The asparagus was of good quality and cooked well. The seaweed powder packed with umami took the flavour to another level. Simple yet delicious with a clean aftertaste.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-015Another familiar, yet consistently delicious dish of Marron and Ground Greens (Attica). Shame the matching glass of wine wasn’t the usual Giaconda Chardonnay, although the substitute of the Clos Ste Magdeleine Cassis Blanc complemented the dish enough with its minerality and spice.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-017The main course was contributed by Patterson with the Beef encrusted in Lichen (Coi). A beautiful cut of sirloin of a pure breed Black Angus beef from Cape Grim, coated in a lichen powder and served with creamy potato purée. Patterson had collected the lichen himself from a forest near San Francisco and brought it with him to Australia. My immediate thought was, how did he get it through customs!? The bordelaise sauce was acidified and had angelica root and Californian cypress as flavourings. The dish was topped with beach herbs including sea succulent, dune spinach and sea lettuce. I was initially disappointed to not see the Wallaby course from Attica but this dish was equally stunning. Melbourne-Attica-Coi-021A serious contender to one of my all time favourite dessert course ever, Shewry’s Plight of the Bees, was the Raw Strawberry Jam (Attica). The strawberries sourced from Wandin, Yarra Valley were served in multiple ways. Some were fresh, some dehydrated slightly, giving them a chewy texture, and some also used to make a jam using the roto-evaporator, allowing Shewry to ‘cook’ the jam at about 35 degrees celsius and thereby preserving the natural strawberry flavours. The meringue was flavoured with vinegar and the ice granita was made with vanilla and forest berry. To complete the dish, a dollop of slightly soured cream. Four words. Heaven on a stick.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-022Patteron’s finale of Whipped Coconut (Coi) was full of surprises. The coconut milk whipped through marshmallow was partially frozen to create a very unique texture bordering chewy and creamy. It was decorated with frantoio olive oil, fresh passionfruit and liquorice herb. A perfect balance of the trifecta: sweetness, acidity and savouriness. Sensational.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-024 Some Pukeko’s Egg (Attica) to finish the meal with an espresso. I think it was a fair observation to say that my companion for the evening, Harvard Wang, who also took all the photos for the evening was equally blown away from the meal.

Melbourne-Attica-Coi-002Based on just four courses served that night, I could see why Shewry described Patterson as a “beautiful cook”. Similar to Shewry, Patterson made delicious food look easy to produce with his simplistic presentations but you could appreciate that was far from the truth after tasting his dishes. Yet, despite the highly technical skills that went into each dish, Patterson’s aim was always to draw out and highlight the flavour of the main ingredient on that plate. He did it with such elegance without complicating things. Everything on the plate was there for a reason. Whilst the intention to purchase his signed book was there all night, I felt it was something I could only own after visiting Coi properly in California to better appreciate his food in an environment he knows like the palm of hand. Having never visited California to date, his restaurant would be the perfect introduction and I can’t wait.



Attica (Full Tasting Menu), Melbourne

P1130753Chef: Ben Shewry    Website: www.attica.com.au   Cuisine: Modern Australian

I know, I know. So it was only a couple of months ago that I had been to Attica but that experimental meal on Tuesday was possibly one of the most impressive meal I’d had in a while. I knew that night, that I had only two obstacles separating me and the full tasting menu… The first one of convincing my wife to revisit a restaurant so soon was an easy one. However, the more pertinent issue at hand was getting the all important reservation, and it had to be pretty soon for my curiosity was about to kill me, metaphorically speaking of course.

As expected from a restaurant that shot up the San Pellegrino ranking in 2013 to an incredible, but deserved 21st position, the reservation backlog had extended to as far as next year. Knowing there was nothing to lose, I simply asked whether there were any cancellations for a dinner. Surprisingly, a table had come up for grabs in a couple of month’s time so I wasted no time in booking in. It was as if my ill fortunes of getting a table at el Bulli had turned around. Now to convince the wife…

P1140502Fast forward a few weeks and here we were again with a huge grin on our face, making an entrance to occupy the last table of the evening at 8.30pm. Stepping into Attica, we realised there’s always one thing that doesn’t change here. In typical fashion Banjo, Hannah and the team greeted us with a genuine smile, welcoming us back to their home. There’s a lot to be said about restaurants that have a personal touch to their service. Attica is one of only a handful in Australia that gets this so right. So here we were, ready to embark on another adventure and what better to kick off the evening than a glass of a complex NV blend champagne, Georges Laval, Brut Nature, Cumières, France. Great minerality and ripe fruit aftertaste.

P1140505I was glad to see that the whipped olive oil with black sea salt was still being served and this time it came with a crusty wattleseed bread. The smokey mousse-like spread was absolutely divine but I was having a hard time fending my wife off as she wanted more than her fair share. Fortunately we had a second serving brought to us before a domestic erupted.

P1140507Unlike the Tuesday night experimental meal, you get an array of amuse bouche with the tasting menu. First up were Mushroom plant leaves from Ben’s garden served with a house cultured crème fraîche, alpine pepper and lemon myrtle dip. Simple, earthy and fresh. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the cool dip and the slight heat from the peppers.

P1140510We were then presented a bowl of walnut shells that had been sliced in half. Inside them were some  Walnut purée with shavings of pine mushrooms and rosemary flowers. The walnut sourced from Ballarat, Western Victoria, had a distinctly strong and earthy flavour and was complemented by the fine shavings of pine mushrooms. I was salivating at this point.

P1140512The Pickled Jerusalem artichoke was a novelty for me. It had been pickled in honey, turmeric and cider, resulting in a very raw and meaty texture. The pickling process had packed in bags of flavours and also eliminated the gas producing effects typically associated with the root vegetable! A clever piece of cooking indeed.

P1140515The finale of the amuse bouche segment went, quite literally, with a big bang in my mouth. The face of Mussel man, a.k.a Lance Wiffen from the Sea Bounty in Australia’s mussel capital, Portarlington, was carefully painted on one side of a mussel shell and served with Blue-lip mussels and sea saltbush. The delicious morsels had been shucked raw, crumbed and lightly fried for 35 seconds, allowing the moisture to be retained whilst adding a crispy textural contrast. The flavours of the sea just burst into my mouth when I bit into it with the slightly salty sea saltbush. I wanted more…

P1140518Our tastebuds warmed up and palate amused, we were ready to go. Banjo had done such a terrific job last time matching our wine so we were happy to leave the matter in his hands, and he certainly did not disappoint. Our first official course of the evening was Crab, Lettuces from Land and Sea, accompanied by a glass of Bründlmayer ‘Berg Vogelsang’ Grüner Veltliner 2002, Kamptal, Austria.  The sweet baby snow crab rested on top of a luscious baby cos lettuce that had been poached in ginger balsamic and the sea lettuce on top was foraged by Ben himself. The finishing touches of a coconut vinaigrette cut through the sweet flesh of the delicate crab meat and the toasted buckwheat added that all needed crunch to complete the dish. I could almost see the ocean.

P1140520The wine of the evening was undoubtedly the Giaconda ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2011, Beechworth, Victoria.This encounter actually led us to Beechworth in October and I can see why they are considered one of, if not the best, Chardonnay producer in Australia. It had a powerful palate and complex characters with fine acidity comparable to ones from Burgundy. It was perfectly matched with…

P1140522… our next course of Marron, Sorrel, Sauce of Onions and Pork Fat. The sweet marron tail sourced from Western Australia rested on a bed of sorrel from Ben’s garden that had been pulvarised with crispy fried chicken thighs after being marinated with coriander root. Hannah then poured over a delicious white onion and pork fat sauce to complete the dish.

P1140524The sauce provided a good balance to the slightly bitter sorrel mixture. Suffice to say the freshwater marron tail was plump and perfectly executed. Yet another superb dish.

P1140528I had fond memories of this dish from my first visit over three years ago. A simple dish of a potato cooked in the earth it was grown is anything but simple and truly captures Ben’s roots and humble origins. The waxy virginia rose potato was cooked sous-vide in earth for two hours, replicating the renown technique of the Maori Hangi in a kitchen. The result of this long-winded process was a uniformly creamy and velvety texture, not commonly associated with the humble potato. It was enthroned on a bed of smoked goats curd, coconut husk ash and crispy salt bush with freshly ground coffee; the culmination of which added an earthy undertone. Complementing this classy act was a glass of Damijan Podversic ‘Kaplja’ 2006, Friuli, Italy which had lovely sweet and silky tannins with a clean finish. By this point I was convinced that Ben was, without a doubt, currently the best chef in Australia.

P1140532Admittedly I wasn’t jumping off my seat when I read what was next on the menu but I was gravely mistaken, for the Cucumber, Holy Flax, Sauce of Burnet was another well balanced and clever dish. Shame on me for doubting. The cucumber pickled in chardonnay vinegar was charred ever so slightly before being plated up together with concentrated cucumber oil, holy flax from Ben’s garden, thinly sliced garlic that had been poached in verjus, peas and the all important Tasmanian cheddar that provided the seasoning. The burnet sauce enhanced the concentrated flavour of cucumber, leaving a very fresh aftertaste, only to be washed down with a glass of Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini, Greece.

P1140534The next dish utilised a traditional Aboriginal technique of cooking in paperbark.  It was the King George Whiting in Paperbark paired with a glass of Chateau Simone Blanc 2010, Palette, France. Underneath the tea tree paperbark was…

P1140539… a deliciously succulent piece of Whiting that had been caught off Portarlington. It had been basted with butter, sea parsley and lemon myrtle before being wrapped in the paperbark. It was then slowly grilled over a mallee root charcoal before being blow torched right at the end. It was decadently buttery yet the slight tang from the lemon myrtle lifted the dish from becoming one dimensional.

P1140541On to the closing act of the savory chapter with the Flinders Island Wallaby, Scorched Macadamia, paired with a local glass of Yarra Yarra Syrah / Viognier 2006, Yarra Valley, Victoria. If there’s one person who can truly treat this beautiful cut of meat, only available to a handful of people, with the respect it deserves, Ben is your man. The lightly seared wallaby loin served almost blue was incredibly tender and not overly gamey even with the accompanying rich black pudding. The bitter leaves of begonia, earthy macadamia purée and scorched nuts were beautiful props setting the natural scene of Australia on my palate. It was the perfect welcome to my permanent move to Down Under. I discreetly took my phone out to see where Flinders Island was. Damn, way too far. But no, I must find a way there…

P1140547Not long after our suspiciously clean plates were whisked away, Banjo came over to lead us to the back garden. Most of the vegetables, herbs and flowers that night had come from here or across the road from his bigger plot of farm in Ripponlea Estate but we didn’t expect to find ourselves to a few treats outside as well. The icing on the cake was being able to chat with the grand maestro himself. As ever, Ben was just humble, gracious and carried a huge smile.

P1140553The warm pink lady and granny smith apple drink kept us toasty whilst we chatted for a while. The scene was pretty familiar. We couldn’t stop thanking him for a superb meal and experience. Somewhat wistfully, we were sobering up from the copious amount of wine to the realisation that our meal was coming to an end.

P1140556But before heading back in, Ben offered us a couple of sticks of marshmallows coated in freeze-dried coconut shavings…

P1140560… to toast it over the outdoor fireplace he had installed. I know this makes me sound pretty sad, but I never toasted a marshmallow in my life and hardly knew what to do. As expected, half my marshmallow had melted into the flames of the abyss. “Amateur”, my wife chuckled as she woofed down her perfectly toasted one. It wasn’t too long after that we decided to go back inside as the temperature was in the single digits. It was winter in Australia after all.

P1140565The first dessert course of the Fresh Curd Ice Cream and Preserved Blueberries. The ice cream had been churned using a fromage blanc goats cheese from Meredith Dairy in Dyalesford. Within this there was a chewy pieces of dehydrated pink lady apple, crystal Turkish apple tea,  and poached pear balls overlayed with chrysanthemum petals. It was a balanced dish of floral notes, fresh curd and sweet fruits. Accompanying this dish was a glass of Dominique Portet Vendanges Tardives Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Yarra Valley, Victoria. Another great find that lead us to their winery in the Yarra Valley the following week.

P1140570We had one last surprise prior to the grand finale with the Native fruits of Australia. The fruits had been picked and supplied by the Outback Pride Project, an organisation that works with the Aboriginal community to promote native Australian food. I had to do a double take as the fruits were being read out; I had never come across any of them (Neither for that matter had my Australian born wife). They were poached Quandongs, candied Rosela Hibiscus petals, earthy Davidson’s plums, apple-like Muntries, Riberries and a fairly tart Desert Lime. In the centre were some wattleseed and honey custard topped with native currant ice and tucked underneath some of Meredith Dairy’s sheep’s milk yoghurt with eucalyptus. Could it get more Australian? It was a superb showcase of the native produce, without being cliche or twee. Most importantly it was very delicious.

P1140571Next was the highlight of the meal, the pièce de résistance, the Plight of the bees, served in this beautifully crafted Tasmanian oak box resembling a miniature beehive box; with a glass of Chateau de Passavant ‘Les Greffiers’ 2010, Coteaux de Layon, France.

P1140575This was essentially a celebration of honey. To be precise, two distinct types of honey from Ben’s native homeland of New Zealand. The darker complex honeydew honey or Forest honey was a type of honey made—not from blossom nectar—but from honeydew excreted by plant sucking insects such as aphids. It was utilised to poach an impossibly thin layer of pumpkin, which subsequently was dusted with freeze-dried apple shavings and pressed with hexagonal patterns to represent the honeycomb.

P1140576As you pierced through the outer layer you immediately realised how complex this dish was in harmonising contrasting textures, flavours and temperatures. A dish that took Ben 18 months to perfect after 50 variations; I was glad he was persistent because this may possibly be the best dessert dish I have had to date. I could distinctly taste each layer below this unassuming surface with every mouthful. From the acidity of fennel ice, fresh mandarin wedges and distilled mandarin, to the crunchy meringue and soft layer of pumpkin, all held together by the centrepiece of the deliciously creamy curd that had been infused with wild lemon thyme honey. What surprised me above all was the absence of extreme sweetness and stickiness normally associated with honey. If there’s one person’s brain I would like to tap into, that would be Ben for dreaming up this dish. It was sheer genius.

P1140578One last gift from the Attica team who just couldn’t have done more to make this meal more perfect – a couple of hand painted chocolate caramel Pukeko eggs that went ever so well with my shot of espresso.

A culinary experience in Attica is far from any pretension. The cooking here is captivating, intelligent and educating, yet relaxing and indulgent but above all delicious. Each dish told a story or an encounter experienced by Ben and the meal represented his personal journey that had lead him here. From the depth of ocean with the Sea Bounty, to the Islands up north inhabited by Wallabies and the native fruits hand picked by the indigenous Australian people, Ben’s cuisine could not portray a better canvass of Australia than any other. I know I sound like a broken record but if you haven’t been to Attica yet, go. You can thank me later.


Attica, Melbourne


Chef: Ben Shewry        Website: www.attica.com.au        Cuisine: Modern Australian

My first gastronomic trip to Australia back in 2010 was memorable for various reasons. I had an unforgettable meal at Vue de Monde, followed by a shocking experience with a very rude commis sommelier at the Royal Mail Hotel and a rather spectacular view yet mundane meal at Quay. However, there was one place that took me by complete surprise. A friend of mine first spoke of Attica back in early 2009 suggesting I gave it a try on my next trip to Melbourne. As the menu looked quite unique including dishes like “a potato cooked in its own earth”, I gave it a shot and invited my in-laws. Whilst everything was good, my experience that evening didn’t quite blow me away like Vue de Monde had on that trip, but I came away thinking there was something different and interesting about Ben Shewry’s cuisine. His dishes were simple at a time when many chefs preferred over engineering them, so I vowed to return in a couple of years to let the restaurant evolve and grow. After all, Shewry is still very young. Three years on, I returned with my wife and parents. I was excited but equally scared. What if I was wrong? I was deep in thought as I walked down the street, suddenly finding myself in front of the raw brick exterior that is Attica. This was it.

P1130694We must have been the last guests to arrive as the place was absolutely packed, and it was only a Tuesday! The manager, Hannah, gave us a warm welcome and led us to an extension off the main dining room divided by a window. In front of us there were two chef’s working meticulously in a glass sealed room. Since my last visit, Shewry had introduced the concept of an experimental chef’s table on Tuesday evenings, allowing just a handful of diners to observe and sample some of his latest creations. The menu coming in at only $95 AUD was shorter than the normal Tasting Menu. For me, this was the perfect way to see how much Shewry had evolved over the last three years. I handed over my copy of “Origin” for a signature and I was set for the evening. It was show time.

P1130707My wife knew I had been looking forward to this for a while and she graciously offered to be the designated driver for the evening. I had my carte blanche. I could now enjoy the matching wines, and what could be better to start the evening than a glass of the NV J.L Vergnon Conversation Blanc de Blancs. We were simultaneously presented with some whipped olive oil with black sea salt and creamy butter with sea salt to go with the sourdough we all had chosen. It became apparently clear that no one was going to touch the butter after trying the whipped olive oil. The cold smoked olive oil was whipped with gelatin to produce a smokey mousse-like spread which was divine. I may have mentioned this before, I am quite partial to bread and butter.

P1130704I wolfed down my second piece of sourdough, mopping up what was left as my wife attempted to fend me off unsuccessfully. Yes, I have no shame. It was that good. As we regained our composure, the sommelier came to pour out our first wine of the evening. The first matching was in fact a sake. The Uehara “Soma no Tengu” Junmai Ginjyo from Saga prefecture was cloudy and had a beautiful creamy aftertaste that went well with the Snow Crab, Sorrel and Buckwheat. The shredded meat of the delicate snow crab from Western Australia was sweet and the sorrel leaf added a lovely citrus note to lift the dish. The buckwheat which had been “activated” or germinated had been immediately dehydrated to give it a delicious crunch and remarkable textural contrast. The dish was completed at the table as the organic chicken infused broth was poured over. It was undeniably a simple looking dish but had a beautiful marriage of flavours and I thought the sweetness of the delicate snow crab was really brought out.

P1130708Carrying on with the theme of unconventional wine matching, the sommelier poured us a glass of beer from one of my favourite Belgian Trappist brewery, Chimay. On this occasion, however, I got to try something new – a Chimay Grande Reserve, which had a rich and lively sweetness with a surprisingly drier finish on the palate. The second dish of Cauliflower Cheese with 11 Basils and Smoked Eel was my absolute favourite of the evening. As the waiter explained, this was Shewry’s take on one of his favourite dish, cauliflower and cheese. There was a bed of roasted and shaved cauliflower incorporated into the goats cheese sauce with mustard oil. The choice of cheese was perfect as it did not overpower the other components of the dish and the mustard oil  cut through the creamy sauce, adding a slight heat to liven the dish. There were also pieces of delicious smoked eel and the finishing touch of the eleven leaves of basil, all with different flavours ranging from aniseed and verbena to orange and lime, was ingenious. Each spoonful had a slightly different refreshing flavour. I could have easily done with a whole pot of this!P1130716The third course of the evening was the Marron, Quinoa, Sauce of Cured Pork Fat and Onion. The West Australian marron was juicy and perfectly cooked as expected at this calibre of restaurant. The Tasmanian quiona had absorbed the pork fat and onion sauce, releasing bags of flavour. The black flecks were couscous cooked in squid ink which was subsequently dried, adding a delicious and crunchy component to the dish. Again, the dish went very well with the sommelier’s recommended matching glass of Bobar Chardonnay 2012, Yarra Valley, which was  fruity with a distinct green apple taste. I was seriously impressed with everything so far!

P1130723The finale of the Wallaby, Dried Mushrooms and Sea Wormwood was an explosion of big bold flavours in my mouth. The sirloin of the wallaby, sourced from Flinders Island, was seared lightly and served rare with mushroom leaves (not to be mistaken with a fungi) that had been brushed with macadamia nut puree, a drizzle of sweet rosella syrup (wild hibiscus) and sea wormwood that was grown in their own garden. The sea wormwood was a novelty for me as I had never tasted a herb that tasted like… coca-cola! The combination of the sweet syrup, slightly bitter sea wormwood and the sweet and buttery texture of this particular wallaby went perfectly with the foliage on the side which was wallaby black pudding topped with dried portobello mushrooms, swiss brown mushrooms and red currants. The matching glass of Ar Pe Pe Rosso di Valtellina 2009, Lombardy was my favourite wine of the evening, displaying typical elegant character of a decent nebbiolo.

P1130728As we were discussing over our favourite courses, Hannah popped out again to invite us to the garden at the rear of the restaurant, which Shewry had converted from a parking space. The smell emanating from the various herbs was very inviting, and out of nowhere the great chef himself popped out to say hello. Despite our best efforts at talking over each other to complement his dishes, Shewry was very composed, humble and modest in receiving them. What a legend.

P1130735After our fairly long chat we decided to give the chef a break from our over enthusiasm and head back to our table for the grand finale, the dessert. I was particularly impressed with the dessert on my previous visit so I was looking forward to the Banana, Caramel, Kaffir and Native Lime. The caramlised banana was topped with honey from Otago, New Zealand, with a fluffy banana powder, kaffir lime powder and liquorice leaf from the garden. The balance between the fragrance, sweetness and contrasting temperatures was spot on making this a light but complex dish on the palate. The dessert was again washed down perfectly with a fairly dry and fruity glass of Immich-Batterieberg Enkircher Batterieberg Auslese 1991, Mosel.

P1130743Given the absence of an amuse bouche at the start of the meal, I had assumed that we would literally just get coffee when we ordered them. Fortunately we were presented with a bowl containing a chocolate and salted caramel Pukeko egg with a story card that essentially explained Shewry’s admiration and respect to nature and its habitat.


It is unprecedented for me to call out a restaurant as being the best in a country over one meal, particularly when it consisted only of five courses but that was the reality. Attica was superb. It was imaginative yet familiar and comforting, but most of all it was the best meal I had to date in Australia and definitely in my top ten. Unlike other fine dining restaurants I’d been to with theatrical elements or spectacular views, the wizardry and magic happened in the kitchen here. It was all about the food and there was no pretense in the service or decor. Behind the comforting flavours of the dishes were a brigade of humble chef’s and front of house who all displayed such genuine pride and joy to be working here. Having been able to chat to Shewry for a few minutes during our break in the garden, I also came to admire the man who has taken foraging to another level. Perhaps it’s a given in Australia, but I personally haven’t heard of other chef’s paying much attention to minimising disruption to the eco-system for species that are also dependent on the same sources which they forage. I guess with great dishes comes great responsibility?

The moderate price tag also makes Attica affordable and attractive for passionate diners who want to revisit more frequently. I for one would be enraged with jealousy of Melbournians had it not been for the fact that I was moving to Melbourne shortly afterwards myself. The only obstacle left now is the long waiting list following the recent announcement of Attica being voted 21st Best Restaurant in the 2013 San Pellegrino 50 Best Award. Luckily for me I have another table booked in the near future and I can’t wait to go back.