Expectations are a tricky thing, and are usually self inflicted much like watching a movie trailer, which shows all the juicy bits, and the end result turns out to be another Van Helsing. The same could be said about restaurants, usually hyped up by some blogger e.g. moi, urbanspoon, open rice, whatever, and ends up to be a solid “meh” at the very best.
Sometimes, expectations occur after having an initial, fantastic meal at a restaurant, and after, inviting your best friends to dine there for a second time, whilst raving histerically about it. Somehow, it turns out to be less awe-inspiring than before, perhaps with the same price tag but smaller portions, a change in direction, or just plain inconsistency. Or perhaps, it is just simply that our tastebuds have evolved as we are exposed to more varied experiences.
I had an inkling that I will be subjecting myself to this when I made dinner reservations at Ezard. Although it is considered a good restaurant, consistently ranked 2 hats (out of 3) in Australia, I knew it would be different from my first outing, eons ago when I was a mere, naive, graduate student with absolutely no clue about fine dining of any sort. But to me, back then, it was a relevation. Never did I have such an amazing experience with food, and my mom actually enjoyed it! Being a Chinese lady, as always, she could always cook everything better at home. But for once, she actually enjoyed her meal. Impossible!
I was keen to see how the restaurant had evolved, and how would years of being spoilt silly with meals in Europe would change my perceptions, or influence my tastebuds.
Upon entering the restaurant, the design of the place has not changed one bit since my last foray, with their ever present “e” logo. Our band of binge eaters opted for the degustation menu, which started with the classic Oyster shooter with Mirin and Wasabi, the latter of which made into a sorbet as a new twist. It was pleasantly refreshing to see that the restaurant had evolved slightly with a new take on their signature dish. Not a bad start to the meal.
Some other highlights we had included the steamed Mulloway fish, with soy-mirin broth and XO sauce. The fish was nicely cooked, and sauce was sweet and appetizing, although just a tad too salty for my tastebuds. That being said, with some minor tweaks, I could have eaten that again and again!
I dish I had to have, was their signature 5-spiced pork hock dish. I still have sweet memories of this dish, with the crispy skin enveloping the succulent meat, falling away with a mere poke of the fork. With the degustation menu, the portions were, as expected, smaller than the ala carte version. And it did not disappoint, with the pork hock initially braised using Teague Ezard’s signature 5 spice masterstock, and subsequently roasted to perfection. It is delicious as I had remembered it, although admittedly, I did not shudder with food-gasms as before.
The rest of the dishes, were decent but not particularly memorable. The other highlight worth mentioning, was their honeycomb ice cream, which had been a mainstay in the restaurant since day 1.
Despite a rather dated restaurant design, and some forgettable dishes, in the end, we had an enjoyable meal at Ezard’s. Service was friendly, and their signature dishes were as delectable as before. Expectations wise, I was a bit disappointed (self inflicted, of course), as this restaurant did not give me the wow factor that I had experienced many years ago. It could definitely use a facelift if it desires to keep pace with the innovative, sustainable farming, zero waste, newcomers to the food scene in Melbourne, which is increasingly competitive with uninspired restaurants crumbling as quickly as they’d started.
Expectations, as I had learned through the hard way, is unfair. It is based on pre-conceived notions by someone, or even your own opinions or biases. I reckon the best way forward is not to have any expectations at all, and just go with an open mind. As long as you’re dining with good friends, and had an enjoyable meal, nothing else really does matter.
Location: 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. +61 3 9639 6811. Website