Set in Ripponlea, ranked 32 of World’s 50 Best restaurants in 2017. Having born and bred in Melbourne, we had to try Attica! $275 per person for 17 courses (note price increases from October) but expect a unique 4-5 hours dining experience.
Arrived at 6.30pm on a saturday night. It was a cold and wet night, dull from the outside but when we walked in, it was warmed up with life and greeted by smiles from staff.
There are alcohol pairings as well as mocktail pairings for the set course. So our friends ordered a mocktail pairing whereas J and I picked the ones that most tickled our fancy… The mocktails are all pre-made and is poured in front of you. No fancy fruits or differences in colour for presentation. Bland looking, but very interesting in taste. The pairings work by unlimited refills but the pairings are set by Attica based on the next set of courses.
1st course is Tac’ Oz which are delicate Cheese Taco shells holding the leaves on sauce that was dripping down as I ate the shell. The shell was extremely crispy and breaks apart from a light touch. We were warned that for the first few courses we had to use our hands quite a bit and was told to expect the table cloth to be not as clean as we arrived.
For the dairy free option, it was Cook’s Leaves – dipping home grown leaves from Attica’s garden with vegan sour cream.
2nd comes Pearl cooked in Paperbark, muscle side of the scallop cooked on bark (not edible) drizzled with vinaigrette. The hinge was soft and had some bite to it. Loved the vinaigrette. What an incredible combination.
3rd came Happy Little Vegemite scrolls and Aged Santa Claus Melon for the non-diary option. These vegemite scrolls were the best amongst the appetisers. Scroll was made like asian bao – soft and warm, moistened from the butter but not overly oily. The vegemite was not overpowering in anyway – it doesn’t even feel like you’re eating vegemite!
4th is Pumpkin Salada – 7 layered filo pastry on top with a pumpkin disc. Crispy salty bits inside with pumpkin miso glazed on top that gave the discs a tangy flavour. Filo is super crispy, thinner than wafer biscuits.
5th is a dish called “An Imperfect History of Ripponlea”, three tarts representing three eras of Ripponlea; Indigenous – Bunurong people, the English who built Ripponlea estate and lastly the Jewish population of recent times. We were meant to eat the tarts in order. We collectively agreed that the tart shells were made to perfection and the first tart was the best: it tasted like a meat pie but not! 2nd favourite was the English tart, it had a tasteless clear jelly but salty with the filling and herb underwater. The Jewish tart was sour and has a herb that I didn’t like. It was quite of a shock in sourness.
Green Ant Pav followed. The presentation for this is a little different because the waiters had to separate the top from being dairy free for my dear J. It was a rather surprising dish as a snack seeing as the pan was sweet but filling is sour and some salty cheese. A slice of a mild banana which covered the green ants taste. The ant mainly formed the texture. It was rather different and adventurous at the same time. It was our least favourite amongst the snacks.
Hand Dived Scallop and Wattlesoy. Soft and jelly like scallop heated for only 30 seconds. Strong mint oregano taste afterwards. Very refreshing – presentation was a beauty.
Next overlooked ingredient is Chewy Carrots with tarragon dip, it tasted like liquorice. Skin was thick but smoked well to have it as a snack. It was very well cooked. I enjoyed it but some of us thought it wasn’t very special.
Mutton Shell comes in a shiny blue shell much representing the ocean of Australia. Hidden underneath is abalone smoked with butter. Sour and sweet in taste then salty. Abalone is tenderised and the perfect amount of flavour.
From here, comes without the need of our hands. Cutlery is presented meaning we are digging to the mains. Hand picked spanner crab with wattle bread. Wattle bread was very airey, when torn apart the air pocket bursts out with hot steam. It looked like a pita pocket and felt rough but it gave the bread texture. Add some butter and salt to the bread fork up generous amounts of spanner crab inside the bread and it was beautiful. The crab meat already had some creamy sauce cooked through, so there were hints of flavour in every bite. I dripped some of the sauce on my dress – don’t be like me, eat elegantly!
Salted Red Kangaroo from South Australia was a petite dish – Red Kangaroo with Truganini… wrapped with salt bush and fermented brown rice in cream sauce. It’s a tartare version. Loved the bites of cucumber which offered freshness to the dish. The non-dairy version was with beetroot instead of cream. More sweet than the normal with cream. It was my favourite main up to this point.
Fried Salt bush with Macadamia puree was a side which I also quite enjoyed, they were spot on with the macadamia puree – never had anything similar before and learning so much about Australian produce right now! We also had more Wattle bread with butter :).
They call it: Acacia Seeds and Artichoke, but it is really Jerusalem artichoke on sour cream and wattle tree ball. Texture of the artichoke was a bit like potato less the starch. I enjoyed the bite sizes and crunch of the acacia seeds. Fingerlime gave it some flavour, and as I ate the artichoke, I could smell the wattle tree scent more and more. I get hay fever, but I wasn’t affected that night. This dish brings out your senses.
Marron in Kelp was all-hands for us. We even had cracked open the claw, scavenging for more meat. We respected the marron well :), but may not have scored on etiquette. We all had a Marron each to ourselves – thank heavens. The tail was tied up which the waiter brought it out prior to cooking it to show us thats how the kitchen infuses the flavour as much as possible. Marron was cooked very well and the flavours had a lovely acidic sauce on it.
By this time, waiters asked us to go on a tour at the back of the restaurant for the final savoury dish, Lamb Souva. We walked through the kitchen and were greeted by many chefs, not long after we were at their home garden. Heated and sheltered with hippy decor and bold paintings on the wall. Ben Shewry happened to be there so we couldn’t resist to take a photo with the creative mastermind of Attica!
The lamb was on the skewer for ages but smelt so good and we had a lot of fun standing outdoors hovering around the bar tables. Attica also offered us home made Lemon Spritz which was amazing. I loved their lemon spritz more than their mocktails! I didn’t think the Souva had a wow-factor, but the flavours were great – the pickled veggies covered any oiliness of a souv. I must say the lamb was very soft.
We were advised to go back to the table only when we’re ready. There was no rush in getting us to our next course so we enjoyed ourselves very much – had no idea how long we stayed for.
Black Ant Lamington: First dessert is a savoury white sorbet with native lychee. The non-dairy version was better – it had coconut ice cream which was consistently sweet. Whereas the dairy version played with my tastebud and got me confused. The black ants acted as the black part of Australian Lamingtons. I couldn’t eat all the the black ants as sometimes I felt the sharpness of the legs kept prickling my throat.
Whipped Emu Egg was a lot better than the Lamington. I personally like sour, so the pineapple was a hit. I really liked the chocolate ice cream hidden underneath the foam. The foam was very tangy, sprinkled with fruit spice, it reminded me of apple cider. One of Attica’s famous dishes.
Lastly, our favourite dessert is Bunya Bunya sorbet piped back in the nut itself. They took nut hollow out of the shell and dusted with sugar bag ice cream. It was cold and a little sour. Looks like they tried to repipe it to look like an egg. The non-dairy version was Daintree Chocolate. I think this time, the dairy option got the better deal!
It was an incredible dining experience with the most courses I’ve ever tasted. I walked out feeling satisfied and not bloated from a long night. I definitely could not fit anymore in though. For us, it totalled to 5 hours of Australian fine dining experience and we couldn’t have kept the conversation going if it was just a 1:1 date. I’d suggest going with another couple – the time went by so quickly that we were the second last customers to leave the restaurant that night – concluded by 11:30PM.
The pros are I was able to celebrate modern Australian cuisine by being exposed to many overlooked ingredients created by Attica. Every dish was impeccably presented. I loved how the non-dairy version tries to mimic the standard dish. This makes me feel that Attica puts an effort to consider most dietary requirements and not let anyone miss out on the key messages by Attica.
The cons: not all dishes had the wow-factor and I couldn’t relate to some flavours combined.
Favourite snack dishes: Vegemite Scrolls & An Imperfect History of Ripponlea;
Favourite main: Red Kangaroo with Truganini & Hand Picked Crab and Wattle Bread;
Favourite dessert: Emu Egg & Bunya Bunya.
I’d recommend anyone to visit Attica once in a lifetime – If you are a Melbournian, don’t take for granted how close you are. Or if you are a visitor to Australia – this is the opportunity to try real Modern Australian in a casual yet fine dining ambience.
Location: 74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea.