21 Rounds with VOLT: Part 4
In addition to the array of inventive dishes, the staff were also universally friendly, and able to take a joke. Even when I took photos at weird times. Here's Sous Chef Graeme in a flattering moment:
The fact they didn't mind us snapping away and asking questions during the entire meal.
The fifteenth meal to cross our palates was braised lamb with sweet potato, granola, coffee oil and mint pudding. Lamb is one of my favourite proteins, but in this case the encrusted granola swamped the meat, which was a little disappointing. I still issued the dish a 3, but Saunter gave a more discerning 2.5.
Up sixteenth was a dish that was presented to us as venison, though after quizzing the chef it actually turned out to be antelope, served with a puree of maroon carrots and vegetable ash. The antelope was extremely tasty, though Saunter's was a little overdone. Me being the gentleman that I am, I quickly swapped my perfectly cooked piece of antelope with Saunter's, a smooth move that did not go unnoticed by the eagle-eyed chefs. The different sauces the antelope was served with all complemented the meat beautifully. I awarded the dish five out of five, while Saunter again going unorthodox, giving the antelope a 4.2.
The antelope dish concluded the mains portion of the meal. Up next, in the 17th position, was the cheese course, featuring a point reyes blue cheese, with celery variations and port sorbet. The cheese was extremely powerful and tasty, and paired nicely with the remnants of the pinot noir. Saunter gave it a 4, while the cheese course rated a 3.5 from me.
Number eighteen was the beginning of the dessert portion of the evening. Up first was a study in white, frozen coconut with lavender and madagascar vanilla. I am some what torn about coconut - sometimes it doesn't sound that appetising, while other times I find it wonderful. In this case it was definitely the latter. Saunter and were both equally taken aback and impressed with the dish, despite its sweetness. The coconut was granted the rare "double five", getting top marks from both of us.
In 19th was carrot cake, with cream cheese, cinnamon ice cream, and banyuls vinegar. This was not your mother's carrot cake, being another of the "deconstructed and re-imagined" dishes. It looked and smelled great, but the taste wasn't quite up to expectations in my eyes, being a little cakey and dry. I still issued a 3, while Saunter (who does not normally have a sweet tooth) quite enjoyed it, giving a 4.
Chocolate was inevitably going to appear on our plates, which it did finally, in twentieth, along with peppermint custard, chocolate caramel, and cocoa snow. The staff also took this opportunity to present Molly and Blake with an extra orange ice cream cake (it was Molly's birthday), while Saunter and I also received one, as we were celebrating our two year anniversary. At the staff's suggestion we made sure to mix the orange ice cream with the chocolate... quite tasty. I gave it a 4.5, while the more anti-sugar Saunter resurfaced, only giving a 3.
Finally we were served with "mignardes", small cookies. I flagged down a waiter and ordered a latte, which was fantastic, finishing off the dinner wonderfully. As I enjoyed my coffee the kitchen was finishing cleaning their stations, as service was well and truly over. At that time the Head Chef came over and had a chat, asking if we had any questions. At this point I began dominating the conversation, asking about the parmesan noodles, the antelope, and about the whole concept of his kitchen. The chef was fantastic about explaining things and humouring my questions, at one point asking if I was in the industry. I don't think he counted "three years of being a dish pig" as really applying.
Inevitably the big moment arrived, and I was presented with the bill. This was definitely the largest meal tab I had ever racked up amongst two people, and it was worth every penny.
Finally we were presented with a copy of the menu, and two mini blueberry cobblers to take home. We bid farewell to the VOLT staff, found our coats, and struggled out the door. It had been over four hours since we had first taken our seats inside the kitchen, awaiting our first dish.
And yes, we would do it all again.