Lately, Hungry Kittens has featured cafes and burger shops aplenty but it's obviously been a long time since I've eaten at a fine dining establishment. With a constant bombardment of bills, mortgage repayments, wedding planning deposits and more, it's become harder and harder to justify an expensive meal. I normally save that stuff for special occasions but all our special occasions seem to be in the first half of the year, which leaves July to November very dreary.
Thank goodness for restaurant promotions! I've recently discovered the power of Urbanspoon's weekly dining specials. If you book a special online through them, you get access to some darn good discounts. Only thing is, you have no control over what restaurant gets featured. It was a stroke of luck when I saw Flaming Olive because that has been on my list of restaurants to try since it first opened in the M and A building. Marc, the world's most passionate olive hater, quipped "why would anyone want to flame an olive? To get rid of them?" Ha ha, Marc. Very funny.
We made a late weeknight booking on a Tuesday. One would think that's the quietest time of the week but the restaurant had a reasonable show of diners. If you dine in the M and A building, you can have parking validated for up to 4 hours. Because parking in the city or valley is something that deters a lot of people, I think that's a great selling point.
Flaming Olive restaurant has a sophisticated and classy feel. It has dim lighting but thankfully isn't too posh and romantic. It's the type of restaurant you could definitely feel at ease in whilst enjoying the finer touches.
The menu is contemporary Australian and features lots of local and seasonal produce. So many things sounded delicious to me that it was a good thing I did prior research and had already narrowed down my order. Marc did his duty in selecting a bottle of wine for us to share and left the food selection to me.
Grilled oyster - with ponzu and chives
We started with some grilled ponzu oysters. They come in serves of 3, which could have been awkward for another couple. Between Marc and myself, there was little cause for upset because he's not the biggest fan of oysters in the first place so I naturally scored two. They were large, juicy and fresh oysters and the sweet and salty ponzu dressing complimented them perfectly.
Bouillabaisse of local seafood - reef fish, king prawn, shellfish, fergola, safron broth
For mains, I chose the seafood bouillabaisse. I've ordered this dish once before in my life at a different restaurant and had found it disappointing. The version at Flaming Olive was unreal. The broth was fine but full of rich, seafood flavours and the unmistakable aroma of saffron. There was just the slightest kick of chili too, which boosted each mouthful. The seafood in this bouillabaisse was plentiful and I had a lot of shellfish to keep me occupied and full. I was in heaven!
Fragrant duck breast - aromatic quince, duck parfait, tendrils and jus gras
Marc's choice of main was the duck breast with duck liver parfait. I thought this was a strange pick for him because he doesn't normally like livery things but maybe it's a sign he's getting more experimental. This was a very artsy dish with all the elements looking small and pretty. I knew straight away that this alone wouldn't be enough to fill him up but we did order a side of fries as well. Marc commented that the duck breast itself was cooked really well but he didn't love the quince paste.
Truffle fries - with truffle infused salt and goey egg
I was very excited about the shoestring fries because truffled fries are one of my favourite things to eat, ever. These were served with a gooey soft boiled egg with truffle dust and you use the egg as dipping sauce. The fries themselves were thin and crunchy but Marc commented that on their own, they weren't much different to McDonald's fries. With the egg dip, they were taken to a whole new level. I could definitely detect the truffle and I enjoyed this side immensely. I was thiiiiissss close to ordering another serve.
Snowball - fluffy cheesecake, citrus curd, white chocolate aero, fresh powdered snow
Instead, we saved some room for dessert. Through great personal restraint, we just ordered one dessert to share. This was the snowball and when brought out to our table, looked pretty as a picture. The ball itself is made of a fluffy meringue and the inside is a soft lemon cheesecake filling. There are tart dollops of lemon curd on the plate as well as shards of white chocolate aero.
The overall flavour and texture combination was superb. I was ecstatic over this dessert and have been recommending it to all my friends. I saw plenty of other diners ordering this while we were there so it must be one of Flaming Olive's most popular dishes.
Marc and I had a great dinner date at Flaming Olive. It's a lovely restaurant with refined but comfortable decor, friendly and efficient staff and above all, delicious food. The dishes we tried were top quality and taste with detailed execution. My favourites were the bouillabaisse and snowball dessert.