Eighty One Fine Food & Wine, Berwick

Photo Credit: http://www.eightyone.com.au
A couple of nights ago, to celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary, hubby and I went to Eighty One in Berwick for a lovely dinner just the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to eat as a family with our little 1 year old boy Micah, but it is a completely different experience altogether with a child. This was a special night, I was going out on a hot date with my husband and it was our wedding anniversary, so no children please!

One of the entrees we had was the House Cured Salmon Gravlax Salad with quinoa, celery leaves, orange, fennel and olive oil caviar. It definitely was packed full of flavour and I do love a good salmon dish. It was refreshing yet fulfilling at the same time, and I just love how all the components of this dish worked really well together to create a complete appetizer. Also bonus points for the presentation of this dish, pretty as a picture! (Apologies that the photos are not as vibrant as my photos usually are, we were seated in a dark romantic corner of the restaurant with very little to none natural light!)

Also as our entree from the tapas menu, the Wagyu Brisket Fingers with Japanese soy mayo. The wagyu beef inside was very, very tender but it somehow has lost all of its juiciness. Still very tender, but I would’ve liked it to be slightly more moist and juicy especially since it was cooked again covered in that crunchy crumb. It was a good dish, but I found it a bit too salty for my liking and would’ve prefered a spicy or tangy sauce to go with it, not the mayo. The mayo actually probably made the dish seem slightly sickening. It needed a fresher accompaniment for me to fully enjoy it.

For the mains, hubby ordered one of the specials for the day – Pan Fried Hapuka in Artichoke Cream Sauce served with Parmesan Gnocchi. The fish had a very distinct flavour to it, and the sauce we weren’t quite used to, but the gnocchi was delicious and soft and fluffy.

I of course couldn’t go past the Otway Pork Belly on roasted celeriac with a freekeh, snowpea, fennel and pomegranite salad. I love pork! The pork was extremely juicy and tender, just the way I like it. I would’ve liked the crackling to be a lot better, but it was still surprisingly crunchy despite the way it looks in the photo. Love, love love the salad, it is a great combination and I might steal the idea! The roasted mashed celeriac was also very good, smooth and delicious. I was very happy with my main, although by the end of it I got so full I couldn’t even finish it! It was very unlike me to not finish my meal, especially a PORK dish, but I truly struggled by the end of it!

We struggled so much at the end, we decided to cancel one of the desserts we pre-ordered and just share the Summer Fruit Meringue with mango jelly, poached pineapple, seasonal fruits and lychee passionfruit syrup. The meringue itself was a disappointment. It wasn’t that slight crunch on the surface and soft and fluffy on the inside meringue I was expecting. Instead, it was rock hard. No kidding. Rock hard. It was like trying to cut through a hard lolly. Very disappointing. Once we managed to cut through it though, it melted in our mouths and delivered its beautiful sugary flavours which complimented well with the jelly, syrup and beautiful fresh fruits. It was a great dessert to finish off with when we were that full, it went down really easy and we did not struggle to finish this together at all (other than the cracking of the meringue, lol).

Overall, we were pretty happy but not sure if we will actually come back. To be honest, I find the menu rather limited. Whilst the dishes were great and I enjoyed most of them, none of them really stood out and they were not outstanding to a point where I wouldn’t stop raving about them. It was a pleasant night out, no doubt. The service was friendly and prompt, and the environment was intimate and romantic while still maintaining a slightly casual atmosphere.

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