Sunday, August 19, 2012

Please, sir, I want some more

Warning:  Much raving, gushing and use of the words "amazing", "perfect" and "delicious" to follow.  Drooling may result.

When you come to Zephyr Mediterranean Cuisine in North Beach don't expect to find the usual run of the mill whatever-it-is-on-mash/pizza/pasta menu options.   Do expect great food, excellent service (thank you Natascha for making us feel so welcome and for looking after us so well!) and to leave with a promise to return.  

To start, the 4 of us shared the Kalamata and Queen Olives as well as the filo parcels.  If you've never tried warmed olives, you're in for a treat.  These olives were so tasty and importantly not too salty.  I'm not a massive olive fan but I loved these:
Warm olives marinated in-house - divine!
As for the filo parcels - YUM!  perfect pockets of crispy pastry and the most delicious fillings just bursting with fresh flavour. Oh my goodness - from the first mouthful I started laughing with joy it was so delightful.  It being our first time there, I didn't know what to expect but from that first fateful bite I knew I was in trouble.  Forget the diet: I will embrace my doom gratefully =P

Filo parcel (spinach, pumpkin, feta and basil)
Moving on to the mains, Steve said his beef fillet was the best he'd had in the 5 years he's been living in Australia.  He wasn't exaggerating.  It was tender and juicy and everything (and more!) that you'd hope for at restaurant.  The red wine sauce was seasoned perfectly and the potato gratin was amazing.  A definite highlight of the evening.

The exquisite beef fillet
I didn't get to try the mushroom risotto but it looked and smelled amazing. I had a mushroom risotto once that just looked like a grey mush.  I love that you can see the chunks of risotto and the separate grains of rice - no mush here!
Mushroom risotto
"You had me at duck confit", Cayley wrote to me after I sent her the menu to consider.   She didn't even bother reading any further down the menu but as it turns out, she didn't need to. It didn't disappoint; the duck confit was oh so melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavoursome.

Duck confit
My main dish was the Exmouth tiger prawns paella.  I had been craving fresh prawns for the longest time.   There's nothing worse than getting excited about a prawn dish only to bite into one and realise it's one of those pre-treated, rubbery, pre-packaged, shelled, frozen boxed prawns.  The worst part of it is that at most restaurants the seafood/prawn dishes will be more expensive than other dishes, but they use the cheapest ingredients they can source.  Not so at Zephyr.  Thank you for making the most of what nature has provided!

Unfortunately the only picture I have of my dish is massively overexposed and of poor quality so it wouldn't do it justice.  Prawns aside, though, I loved that I could taste every single different ingredient in my dish, from the tomatoes right down to the burst of flavour when I bit into a pea.  You don't get a hodge podge of too many things trying to happen at once in your mouth - what I loved was that it was about simple, tasty flavours and focussing on quality over quantity.

Despite our straining stomachs, because our meals thus far had been so amazing, we decided to plow on and sample their desserts.  Their tiramisu was delicious, but nothing outside of what I've had before.  Still, I was very happy with it (as you can see):

The flourless chocolate cake was rich and delicious - yum!

Torte Caprese (flourless chocolate cake)
But the highlight of the desserts was their doughnuts (or doughnut holes) filled with creme patissiere and served with butterscotch sauce.  It is usually served in threes, but because there were 4 of us at the table Natascha very kindly gave us 4 so we could each try one.  She said that people will go there just for the doughnuts.  They were so good that they were all eaten before I remembered to get my camera out - what a shame!

We must've seemed like raving food loonies with our cameras and our gratitude (I confess gushing to Natascha about what an amazing experience each dish was) and to my delight, Chef Lawrence himself came out to greet us!

Me unsuccessfully containing my excitement at meeting the Chef himself - much to the embarrassment of my friends
Here is a man who really cares about the quality dining experience and a master of bringing out the best of fresh ingredients.  He chatted with us at the table and then ever so kindly poured each of us a sample aperitif (well, I suppose in this case it was a digestif as it was after our meals) that I stupidly can't remember the name of now (a spanish wine?) but do remember that it deliciously sweet, almost port-like, and akin to having the essence of sultanas or raisins in my mouth.  I may or may not be salivating at the memory of it now *slurp*

What a warm and personal experience we all had with Natascha, Chef Lawrence and their crew.  It's not what could be classified as a cheap dinner out (I think that night ended up being in the region of $80 per person for shared entrees and desserts and individual mains), but in my opinion it's worth every penny.

I've really wanted to go back ever since but haven't yet found an excuse to.  Which brings me to why am I only just blogging about it now - it's my birthday next month and I want to put it out there: watch out Zephyr!  I'm on my way!

Zephyr Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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