Must Wine Bar – Highgate – Thursday 31 December 2015 – Dinner

Twice baked Blue Manna crab soufflé, crab bisque sauce, soft herbs

Twice baked Blue Manna crab soufflé, crab bisque sauce, soft herbs

New Year’s Eve may be just another night, but it is one of the few dates in the year where you generally remember what you did, even if only for the past few years. It is an excuse to celebrate and it is an excuse to indulge.

After particularly impressive pre-drinks across the street at The Queens, we ventured the short distance to Must Wine Bar to see what was about to be served in the lead up to 2016. We were in good spirits from a combination of the ten dollar prohibition cocktails on offer, and the enthusiastic performance of the staff, all dressed in prohibition theme, and genuinely enjoying their night, albeit at work.

Starters included Gin cured salmon fillet, cucumber remoulade; and oyster natural with pickled carrot salad

Starters included Gin cured salmon fillet, cucumber remoulade; and oyster natural with pickled carrot salad

While we are on a high, over the road at Must it is a different story with the staff. It seems they’ve had a difficult time getting the first sitting away from their tables, meaning they are about fifteen minutes behind time for our 9pm sitting, and you can tell that they are stressed. In fact, they keep their head down and not once in that prevailing fifteen minutes are we given a quick “sorry” and a shrug, or even a joke to lighten the wait. In fact, this would have been the perfect time to serve the “on arrival” glass of Perrier Jouet.

Once seated, the offerings we read on the menu are enough to quickly forget the greeting, or lack thereof. There are great options for entrée, main and dessert, making it difficult to decide, and requiring some coordination. In the end most of us have the crab soufflé or the pork belly for entrée; the Harvey beef or barramundi for main; and the pavlova or cherry dessert.

Slow cooked pork belly, chick pea & chorizo braise, apple & radish salad, pork crackle crisp

Slow cooked pork belly, chick pea & chorizo braise, apple & radish salad, pork crackle crisp

To begin we are all served with an oyster with a carrot and dill dressing, a corn croquette, and a spoon of gin cured salmon. None of the starters is remarkable, but they are all quite okay. The bread is amazing though, and it always has been since opening over a decade ago.

Grilled barramundi fillet, heirloom tomato, basil & chat potato salad

Grilled barramundi fillet, heirloom tomato, basil & chat potato salad

Quickly the food ascends to excellence, with a twice baked Blue Manna crab soufflé that is delicate, showing off the crab filling and its subtle flavour. The small amount of bisque surrounding the soufflé is tasty in itself but we expect the small amount is to ensure the soufflé is not overwhelmed. The pork belly is also very nice, and well executed, but not quite as different and exciting as the soufflé.

Slow roast Harvey beef fillet, beetroot risotto, feta whip

Slow roast Harvey beef fillet, beetroot risotto, feta whip

I was second to order my courses, and had ordered duck initially, only to immediately change to the Harvey beef such was the tension in my choice. But I think I did the right thing. The beef fillet is superbly cooked medium rare, consistent across the three of us who ordered it, and complimented by a robust beetroot risotto. The barramundi is beautifully cooked too, a staggering job by the kitchen keeping in mind that we have a full restaurant, and all of us have sat down at the same time.

The food had eclipsed any issues with the initial service, though it was a theme that the staff were not really very engaging, or friendly throughout. With great company and excellent wine, it really didn’t matter in the end. In particular, a 2013 Devil’s Lair Cabernet Sauvignon was absolutely delicious, with the classic notes you get from Wilyabrup Cab Sav and plenty of layers of dark berry fruit. It was a sophisticated way to see out 2015.

Vanilla cream, Weiss chocolate crumbs, Manjimup cherry sorbet

Vanilla cream, Weiss chocolate crumbs, Manjimup cherry sorbet

As we approached midnight we enjoyed the dessert and petit fours which were terrific chocolate truffles. My vanilla, chocolate and cherry dessert was excellent providing beautiful tastes and textures, without going to far outside the box. When the clock struck midnight we entered the new year with a full belly and a nice alcoholic glow!

Much is made of new year’s eve because we make much of it. To me, the recipe for a great new year is to do what you enjoy during the rest of the year, and Must put on a show that I would go back for on a more ordinary night, hopefully with happier staff.

Must Winebar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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