A little over a year ago I experienced an amazing fine-dining meal at Brents The Dining Experience, which has since transformed into 85 Miskin St keeping the same owner-chef Brent Farrell. 85 Miskin St has been redeveloped into an approachable casual-dining restaurant. The crisp white tablecloths have gone, the carpet stripped away and replaced with shiny wooden floorboards. The food has taken a creative turn, using inspiration from a range of cuisines, moving away from its former strict Classic-French ethos.
Upon hearing of the restaurant’s 5-course degustation lunch for only $45 from Tuesday to Saturday, we had to go. Saturday was our best option but due to school and work and other social commitments there aren’t many Saturdays that the whole family is free. When a free Saturday finally came I jumped at the opportunity.
We made our way inside the charming cottage style house and were seated against the window with light coming off the street-side view. Mum, Dad and I had booked for the degustation, but of course the picky Princess wasn’t in the same boat. She decided to forgo a choice from the a-la-carte menu and ordered a Semolina crusty loaf, truffle & parmesan butter ($9) and Seasoned fries & lemon aioli ($9). She loved the house-made bread declaring: “I give it an eight out of eight mate!” As for the fries they were gone in a flash.
For the degustation, our meal kicked off with a wild mushroom cappuccino with crispy prosciutto crumb. This amuse bouche is memorable from our earlier visit to Brent’s and were very happy to have it again. The earthiness of the aerated mushroom soup contrasted well with the slightly salty crumb. It was a great way to start and set high expectations for the rest of the meal.
The next course was citrus cured salmon, crushed red grapes & raspberries, dill crème fraiche & stout wafer. Pairing delicate slices of cured salmon with a sweet and tangy raspberry sorbet encapsulated Brent’s ability to combine simple ingredients, different textures and temperatures to create a unique dish. We declared this dish our favourite.
A palate cleanser of pink grapefruit and Campari sorbet with cinnamon arrived next. My parents appreciated the Campari in the sorbet but my palate is not used to alcohol and distinctive flavour of Campari (so I’m told) and I found it a little overpowering. Nevertheless, it refreshed our palates for the next course.
Our last savoury course was crispy skin pork belly with caramelized apple, quince & seeded mustard. The pork belly was cooked superbly with a crunchy crackling and a balance of unctuous fat and succulent meat. The addition of the complementary flavours were well considered once again and worked wonderfully with the meat.
When a menu item reads as a list of ingredients it leaves plenty to the imagination. Such was the case when I read the dessert on the menu: Raspberry, violet & white chocolate. I had my fingers crossed that it was going to be served as one of Brent’s signatures, which is a dessert that he prepares as a little flowerpot. Inside there is some sort of flavoured cream, soil and edible flowers for decoration on top. It looks just like a real flowerpot but it’s edible! Alas, I had been carried away by my imagination as we were presented with three quenelles of different flavours, a pretty dish nonetheless. One quenelle was a raspberry sorbet another was a violet sorbet and lastly a white chocolate mousse. Alongside was a raspberry coulis, thin biscuits, a fresh raspberry and edible flowers for decoration. Although I had hoped for different presentation, I still loved exploring the different flavours of the three quenelles and the crunchiness of the biscuit.
Do I think that the restaurant change was the right move? Well as much as I loved Brents, I think 85 Miskin St has enabled Brent Farrell the freedom to ‘wow’ his customers with his talent to produce exquisite food using exciting flavour combinations and textures. By offering exceptional food at great prices ($45 per person for this meal!), I hope that customers will want to come back over and over again.