Sunday, 4 December 2011

a restaurant without a menu.

wearing; Showpony red dress, Jeffrey Campbell Zinger wedges, Louis Vuitton pochette clutch, Fendi Cuff

Just when you thought you've seen it all, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

To be honest, all the rip off Australian tourist destinations and coastal holiday homes are not really renowned for their "good food". Often, you'll find yourself paying $20 for a piece of toast and fried egg - worse than what you are capable of making at home.

However, I was wrong.

There is hope (marginally).

During our weekend away in Port Stephens, my awesome boyfriend took me to a surprise birthday dinner. As a foodie, I'd normally like to take on the role as the decision-maker when it comes to deciding where to eat. However, he kept it as a surprise and was rather excited about the entire concept of me not knowing.

Upon arrival, I was a tad surprised by the setting. Ritual Restaurant is located in a shopping plaza complex, sort of like a corner store. I looked at my boyfriend and gave him the "what the hell is this, I thought you're taking me somewhere fancy and fine dining" look (ha ha)!

At exactly 6:30pm, the hostess greeted us by the door and led us inside to the -ummm- lobby (?) amongst other diners for the night. We were then treated to Fairy Floss...wait for it, ROSEMARY AND GARLIC Fairy Floss! It was amazing. Next, we were treated to Ritual's own version of "Vegemite" on toast. What they did here was went against all odds and took on two of the most - yet conventional favourites and made it their own!

After all the formalities, we were led inside to be seated. To my surprise - the restaurant was smaller than anticipated and we were seated on a communal table amongst 2 other couples (son + mother and 2 best friends).

The first thing you'll notice upon entering would be the all "weird" wall features - "is that a giant cheese grater"??? 

Crispy Artichoke Shell to be filled with Artichoke Paste
As pictured above, the entire experience was extremely interactive allowing guests to interact and bond with one another by encourage discussions..."hmmmmm wonder what this is"?

Next, we were introduced to "tasting spoons". A plate consisted of four tasting spoons were presented to us - 2 for each couple. 

Now, as the post title suggests, we did not know what to expect, it's not the conventional "look at the menu and decide what to order" kind of restaurant. At Ritual, your taste buds decides. Based on which taste you preferred out of the two tasting spoons, the entree will reflect this taste. The same deal went on for main and dessert as well.

Ragged mountain ranges of smoked eel tapioca chips with goat and tomato jam roulades,
goats cheese and greenery of chervil; tomato and cocoa sauce river sprinkled with dehydrated
tomato soil, clear tomato gel, choko, potato and savoury tomato jam stack that is topped with
slices of smoked eel.
Duo of wasabi tempura kingfish and mandarin tempura all on anchovy and wakame sand
topped with a beer coral; scattered are discs of pickled heirloom radish and pickled fennel,
on top of the fennel is squid ink coated kingfish loin and oysters preserved two-ways with
crispy lotus root. The dish is finished with honey smoked and cured rings of kingfish
holding smoked herring roe, salmon pearls and wasabi flying fish caviar on a bed of ginger
and yuzu sauce.
to clean your palette before the mains ; Strawberry Scent + Celery Seed Rice Crackers
Roulade of Macleay Valley Rabbit (Kempsey NSW) and salted Nagamie Cumquat, blow
torched with cumquat and whisky marmalade, cumquat and whisky sauce as the sun over
the sage tzatziki plains, scattered barley and Sebago rösti.
The warm dark soil is represented by organic lentils and mushroom paté. The large tree is
represented by beetroot marinated salt bush lamb backstrap on a beetroot and fetta dip
with foliage of rocket potato crisps and spinach leaves. The smaller tree is a dehydrated
beetroot crumbed, mushroom paté filled, saltbush lamb cutlet with leaves of spinach and
golden beetroot chips. The trees are decked with pickled heirloom beetroot orchids.
Red wine and balsamic liqueur lollipop, balsamic fig eucalypt meringue pie, millefeuille
with balsamic crème fraiche centre and dehydrated fig leaves, fig leaf marshmallow rolled
in fig leaf sherbet and balsamic tile, and then the cone filled with balsamic ice-cream, fig
jam and fig leaf nitro balls.

They say a picture paints a thousand words....I'd say, get yourself there and experience this one crazy unique ride for yourself! No pictures nor words can amount to the quirkiness of Ritual.

I leave you with the final surprise; yes! HA HA! It IS what it looks like...don't get too excited, it's tobacco free...just fruity air ;)

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