I wrote these thoughts before going to Attica but did not post them prior to dining (on purpose).
I am off to Attica tonight and as you would expect I am excited.
Like the label or not, we have a World’s Top 50 Restaurant in Melbourne, and that is something to be proud of.
What do I expect from tonight? First, I have been to Attica just once, and it was five years ago. AGT tells me that naturally the restaurant has transformed completely (more than once most probably) and does not resemble my previous experience. So what I expect is all completely new dishes and a certain change in inspirations behind the dishes.
After all, Ben Shewry was just becoming a “celebrity” at the time and has only broadened his perspectives since then with more travel, more acclaim, and more focus on his restaurant from a global audience. There have also been changes in the structure of ownership of the restaurant with Ben now the sole owner, and lately the experimental nights have been pulled, most likely to make sure every experience is consistently exceptional.
I don’t read reviews in the lead up, or even try to have a look at the menu. I like the surprise and luckily, there is almost no ingredient I do not like (as long as it is eaten for pleasure, and not other purposes – in Bourdain’s words on food that does not taste good but is culturally important “to make you strong!”) I hope for a sweet dessert thrown in to the lately balanced (read savoury) theme at fine diners.
I hope there is a protein I haven’t eaten often (or at all). I hope that his treatment of vegetable dishes elevates them in the way I know he can (with the now famous potato cooked in its own soil). I hope all of the snacks are sublime (yes, I use that word) and that they are all memorable. I hope service is perfect (not a completely unreasonable expectation in this type of establishment). I hope the coffee is okay.
I’ve already decided I won’t get the matching wines. I like to have wines by the glass that are versatile and can match a couple of courses in a row. When I finish a glass I either know what I would like next having scanned the menu, or I simply go with exactly what the sommelier suggests. Normally the surprise of how much the glass costs on the bill at the end of the night is pleasant, but I try my best not to have a budget (even though I most certainly do).
There is a gasp at looking at the per head cost of food here, but I justify it in several ways and put it in the background, essentially as part of the booking process. The other justification is it is not as much as the Fat Duck was (for friends – I didn’t go) and is not as much as most three michelin starred places in France, New York or London.
Consistently exceptional food, perfect service, and versatile elegant wines. That is how I hope I can sum up tonight’s experience. Wish me luck!