Panic panic panic.
That was me trying to get a booking for my Sydneysider bestie L for a bunch of us Twitterers to dine at Cookie. For days, no one seemed to be answering their phone. When I finally got through, of course they were all booked up for the night we wanted to dine.
Panic panic panic more.
Tristan suggested The Deanery and I remember hearing some food blogger wanksters saying the food wasn’t half-bad. So I booked.
Not to betray my (old) age or anything, but didn’t The Deanery once used to be frequented by drunk, suited bogans? Perhaps so. It didn’t seem so upon my first visit: the bar area was crowded but the punters were polite. The dining area looked very fancy indeed and the venue’s wine storage is visible from almost every table. Woah. So this is a wine nerd joint, eh?
So of course I ordered a glass of Bridge Road’s Chevalier Saison. I later learnt on Twitter that the keg that just been tapped that same night we were there and more reassuring, The Deanery’s Twitter presence was conversing with Bridge Road’s. Good to see more good food places getting in on the craft beer love.
It gets better.
I didn’t actually order it at the time, but Tristan and Luke had a bottle each of the Weihenstephaner hefe weissbier. Remember guys, when life gives you lemons, get it the fuck away from your hefeweizen. One of my favourite pearls of wisdom from Twitter. Remember folks, this is the One Wheat Beer To Rule Them All.
I love how the menu is divided into small, medium and large dishes, allowing you to choose lots of small things to make up a meal. Of course, if you prefer the more traditional option of just getting one main, there’s that too. Luke opted to do this and had a humble old steak. He seemed pretty taken with it!
His partner Kim chose the Momofuku-inspired steamed pork buns as a starter, as did Tristan. Due to the absence of serious tech, you’ll have to suffer my ghetto mobile phone photos. I do apologise as it won’t do the morsels justice. I believe these appear in the Momofuku cookbook so you can try your hand at making them at home, like this blog has. The consensus seemed to be that The Deanery’s take on them were okay.
Kim then went with the duck pie, celeriac purée and preserved mushrooms on my erroneous advice that it came highly recommended. Turns out I had confused it with The Lincoln’s duck pie. She decided to order it anyway and declared it wonderful.
Big sis L started off her culinary adventures with the quail with coconut, yoghurt and tamarind chutney. She really enjoyed it but as quails are a somewhat bony bird, that can dampen the nomming experience. Just the way the figurative cookie crumbles!
After much indecision (with which the waiter was not very sympathetic, it has to be said), for mains she chose to have the pork belly. Greedily, I looked on!
I had two starter-type dishes: first, a trio of freshly shucked oysters with the house made XO sauce – not only do they look visually stunning, but devouring them was a punchy, flavoured treat. The last time I’d had oysters previous to this occasion, they weren’t fresh so this restored my confidence in them! A trio wasn’t enough.
My second gluttonous escapade was the rabbit rilette with prunes. I was curious as to what rilette was and discovered that it’s a meaty, finely shredded preparation that lends itself to spreading and snacking as if parfait or pâté.
Consider this bouche much amused! Under the layer of fat, the meat hides making it easier to spread and enhancing each others’ flavour. I love these sorts of dishes because I really do find they whet the appetite but they’re also substantial if you’re not wanting an epic fatty meal.
To bulk up my deliberately small meal, I ordered a side of the watercress and fennel salad. As a personal preference, I would have preferred more watercress rather than fennel and for the salad to be equally composed of both ingredients as fennel is rather astringent. Besides, I’m British and we love watercress, haha.
Tristan’s main was the slow braised goat, almond and currant couscous with yoghurt. High fives for goat meat! Surprisingly, I don’t think he was as gushy about it as I expected.
The fitout of the eating area is swanky and the service is mostly lovely – big sis L wasn’t impressed with the waiter that served her and to be honest neither was I, only because I sometimes got the impression that he’d much rather be doing something else than helping our table (as was in evidence when we asked for the bill). The rest of the staff were great and it’d be ace to try out more enticing menu items on a future visit! Was a shame there was no time for dessert as we had to nick off and pretend to be cool cats at yet another Melbourne hotspot…stay tuned!