I had organised a lunch at Matteo's to capitalise on the great value offered by the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival express lunches. John, Esther, Ami, Kim Anh, Mai and myself all arrived at Matteo's only 5 minutes late, which wasn't bad. We knew we had to vacate the restaurant at 1pm so everyone made sure they go there on time.
The meal got off to a bit of a shaky start. As I had booked the table, I went up to the maitre d' and had the following conversation with him.
Thanh: Hi, I had a booking for the express lunch for Thanh for 7.
Maitre d': Yes, please come this way.
Thanh: Actually, we only have 6 today so you can move us to a smaller table if you want.
Maitre d': You should have rung to tell us.
Thanh: I'm sorry but I only found out this morning that my friend had food poisoning and couldn't make it.
Maitre d': You still should have rung us, even if it was 5 minutes before the reservation. I could have sat 8 at your table.
Thanh: I'm really sorry, but I only found out this morning and I didn't think it would make a difference if I rang.
Maitre d': We don't want excuses, we just want to know.
Gee, that was a great start. He could have handled it better by just saying in future if someone pulls out, we should let them know even if it's only 5 minutes beforehand. Instead he decided to make us all feel guilty. For the record, the restaurant wasn't even full during the first lunch session so it wouldn't have made any difference in this case.
I'm happy to report that the rest of the lunch went very smoothly after that and the service was very good.
Esther and Kim Anh both giving me the stare off, eyeing my delicious desserts.
There were a couple of entree options. The Carpaccio of Semi-Cured Hiramasa Kingfish was served with a prawn remoulade sauce with kaffir lime and lemongrass, "shiso" Japanese basil pesto. Wow, that was a mouthful, in name more and flavours.
The Air-Dried Wagyu Bresaola was served with spring onion and coconut pancake. I loved the beautitful oily richness of the wagyu.
The mains of Slow Braised Beef Cheek with wasabi flavoured mash and Thai style coleslaw didn't really work. The cheek was beautifully soft, but did not combine well with the other flavours at all.
The Seared Ocean Trout was served on a fritter and Japanese style salad from memory. Kim Anh said it was quite good, but again the accompanying flavours didn't work perfectly with the main dish.
Although the previous dishes were a tad disappointing, dessert more than made up for it. Each person was served three almost full sized desserts. There was a Nougat Parfait with Candied Fruit and Pistachi Praline, a Chocolate and Coconut Milk Panna Cotta and a Berry Tartlet with Framboise Scented Mascarpone. The parfait was very smooth and I loved the chunks of fruit, however, when I was chowing down on the second one (Ami didn't want her desserts so I had them, oh I'm such a glut), it was getting a bit sweet. The Panna Cotta had just the right amount of sweetness and a great texture. The Persian floss was a nice touch. My favourite was definitely the berry tartlet. Fresh berries on a wonderfully fragrant mascarpone with the Framboise giving it the most delightful scent that just hung on the tongue a bit.
Overall, the meal was good value. But the savoury dishes didn't really work for me. It was all a mish-mash of too many competing flavours that sounded better on paper than on the plate.
So despite being really full, we still couldn't help ourselves and walked to the Thai Festival at Fed Square. We passed the Greek Festival on Russell Street and I was so tempted by the loukamades, but was so full that I just couldn't.
When we got to the Thai Festival, we watched some kickboxing and a beauty pageant. Then it was off to get more food. My stomach had eased a tad so I tucked into some Mangosteen ice cream. Boy was it good. Esther had some tropical ice cream while John had the coconut ice cream. The coconut ice cream was good, but was no match for the coconut ice cream we had at Wicked Sunday from Gundowring. That coconut ice cream was amazing, and they stock it at Chadstone. Go get yourself some.
After eating some more Thai snacks, we called it a day and went home. I couldn't helpt but pose with the glass. I should have sucked in my stomach though.