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AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part Two

Part Two: Atlantic Restaurant – Melbourne, Australia

Part ONE of my Australia adventure here.

This year, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) will celebrate all things water. As noted on the official website, “In 2014 we honour water; soaking, dousing, steaming and fishing our way through a veritable ocean of information from sous vide to sustainability, from the Amazon to the Arctic.”

If you missed my last post, in September I was invited by Tourism Australia to preview some of the festival restaurants, in and around Melbourne. MFWF programs begin on February 28th and run through March 16th. Click here for details.

The Atlantic Restaurant, MelbourneMy first night in Melbourne I attended a dinner at Chef Donovan Cooke’s Atlantic Restaurant, an “ocean to plate” concept that fits in perfectly with the upcoming festival’s water theme. After an early-morning arrival from Los Angeles, plus an afternoon exploring Sichuan food (aka getting lost) in Chinatown… I was ready for an elegant, fine-dining experience.

Yorkshire-born Donovan Cooke has quite a distinguished culinary pedigree, honing his skills under the likes of Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux.

From the Atlantic website:
“He has worked at The Savoy Hotel and the Waterside Inn in London and La Cote St Jacques in Roigny, France. Donovan was Head Chef at the age of 23 at Harvey’s. Donovan came to Melbourne in 1996 where he was co-creator of the influential Est Est Est in 1997. Luxe was next was awarded The Age Good Food Guide three hats in its first year. Ondine followed and it was awarded Best New Restaurant in 2002. From 2004, Donovan was chef de cuisine at Derby Restaurant and Bar at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. In 2005, he was recognized as Honorary Commander, La Commanderie des Cordon bleus de France for outstanding culinary achievements.”

In 2010, Donovan returned to Melbourne to become Executive Chef and partner of The Atlantic. The restaurant theme is inspired by the “hustle and bustle of the fish markets of years gone by, in New York and Chicago.” It’s a beautiful, waterfront location, set on the banks of the Yarra River.

Melbourne Food & Wine describes Donovan as “Intense, earnest and knowledgeable, Donovan Cooke has a reputation for his uncompromising approach to impeccable seafood and the best way to handle it. His Michelin pedigree is undeniable; his skill and technique, faultless.”

And yes, he’s also been on MasterChef Australia!

For this MFWF preview dinner, Chef Scott Pickett (Estelle Bar & Kitchen) was also manning the stoves along with Donovan Cooke. Pickett also has an impressive cooking background, winning Two Chef Hats in the Age Good Food Guide.

Photos – Dinner at The Atlantic Restaurant (9/8/13)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
The Atlantic on the banks of the Yarra River.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
“Ocean to Plate”. Seafood on display, like a fish market!

The Den (at the Atlantic Restaurant) Melbourne
Cocktails before dinner at the The Den, downstairs from the restaurant. (This photo from Atlantic website)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Wagyu Bresaola, Quail yolk, Heritage Cauliflower by Chef Scott Pickett. You can’t see the quail egg in this photo, but this was such a gorgeous dish. The crunchy chips added a great texture.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Truffled “Chicken Wings”, Hand-Rolled Macaroni, Broccoli Crumbs by Chef Scott Pickett. Pure comfort food. De-boned wings made into sausages. More please.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Olive Oil Confit Ora King Salmon, Spring Vegetables, Diamond Clams, Artichoke Essence, Confit Tomatoes, Soft Herb Emulsion by Chef Donovan Cooke. PERFECTION. He has spent TWO DECADES refining this salmon dish. A fact that’s even posted on his twitter profile.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
I had the absolute pleasure of dining (and drinking) next to Coldstream Hills Winemaker, Andrew Fleming. He explained each pairing and made the evening so much fun!
Wine: Coldstream Hills Chardonnay Notes of grapefruit and stone fruit and a creamy mouthfeel.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Wine: Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz  Black fruits with subtle hints of pepper.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Just getting started.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Kitchen Tour (Chef Donovan Cooke at right)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Chef Donovan Cooke (and his tasting spoons)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Hanging out on the line…

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Mixed Berry Cheesecake Trifle: Raspberry cheesecake foam, cream cheese ice cream, vanilla cookies, strawberry jelly, berry marmalade by Pastry Chef Rhiannon Voros. Such a shame I only had room for one bite.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
More sweets! Nougat, Valrhona White Chocolate, Pistachio Nuts, Cranberries by Pastry Chef Rhiannon Voros. Loved the pistachio.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Scott Pickett (left) and Donovan Cooke. Bad Ass Chefs.

Note: Donovan Cooke will be appearing at the MFWF 2014 Langham Melbourne MasterClass. Info and Tickets

The Atlantic Restaurant
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
Tel: +61 3 9698 8888
www.theatlantic.com.au

Follow Donovan Cooke on Twitter, FaceBook

Scott Pickett’s Estelle Bar and Kitchen
243 High St, Northcote VIC 3070, Australia
+61 3 9489 4609
www.estellebarkitchen.com.au

Follow Scott Picket on Twitter

Melbourne, Day 1Many thanks to Melbourne Food and WineTourism AustraliaTourism Victoria

If you’re on Instagram, I posted photos every day while in Australia. Just search for #JoBitesOz

Check back soon for more Australia!

Part ONE

Part THREE

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XIV (now closed)

My first encounter with chef Michael Mina was during a birthday trip last January, for my niece and nephew, twins Kindal and Chace. Since they were about to officially become teenagers, I wanted to plan an extra special celebration dinner with Aunt Jo (that’s me) and Uncle Peter (my husband). Some sort of “grown up” place where we could get all dressed up and use every piece of fine silver on the table.

I’m extremely close with my sister’s kids, and would go to the ends of the world for them, but for their thirteenth birthday, I decided we would fly to San Francisco, and dine at Michelin-starred Michael Mina (the chef’s flagship restaurant). 

Dinner was, of course, incredible, and the fact that chef Mina was in the house that night made it even more special. He oversees multiple restaurants from California to Florida, so we were happily shocked when he stopped by our table for a birthday photo.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.comMichael Mina’s XIV (“Fourteen”) in Hollywood is much closer to home of course, and we surely would have had the same dinner experience as we did in San Francisco, but I sort of felt like we (especially me) had to dine at Mina’s original outpost first.

Finally, last week I had my first full dinner at XIV (I previously enjoyed a few bites at the bar).

My nephew Cody (the twin’s older brother) is dating one of the sweetest, caring and downright gorgeous girls in all of L.A. That’s a bold statement I know, but Jade’s warmth and down-home personality (she hails from Tennessee), plus the way she cares for our entire family almost outshines her beauty. I said “almost” because there’s no denying her “WOW” factor.

Jade’s family still lives back in Tennessee, so Peter and I both try to be here for her if she needs anything. Last year after her car was totaled (a hit and run while parked in front of her building), she was in our kitchen on her cell phone dealing with her insurance company. The person on the other end must have asked her where she was at that moment, and she answered (in her sweet southern accent): “I’m with the folks that look after me”. Peter and I cracked up laughing. We just loved that she “got” how much we adore her, and how much our entire family loves her.

On September 10th Jade turned twenty-one, so of course we had to take her somewhere special to celebrate that night! I checked with Cody and we decided on XIV. It was perfect, and we had the best time TRYING to get through FOURTEEN delicious courses together. We almost made it (stopped at thirteen) but we’ll always remember it as yet another fun and fabulous, Michael Mina family experience.

What we ate:

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Sea Scallops Tempura, Cauliflower, Passion Fruit, Edamame, Almonds $17

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Liberty Duck Breast, Seared Fois Gras, Leg Confit, Pineapple, Star Anise $36

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Tataki of American Wagyu Skirt Steak, Moroccan Spiced Vegetables $16

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: Beef Carpaccio, Heart of Romaine, Cherry Tomatoes, Horseradish $16
Top Right: Tai Snapper Tapioca-Crusted, Broccoli Rabe, White Soy Vinaigrette $33
Bottom Right: Heirloom Beets, Burrata, Wild Arugula, Aged Balsamic, New Olive Oil $15
Bottom Left: Jidori Chicken “Cobb”, Blue Cheese, Avocado, Baby Gem Lettuce $17

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: XIV Caesar Salad, Classic Dressing, Shaved Parmesan Reggiano $13
Top Right: Kobe Burger, Trio of French Fries, Farmhouse Cheddar, & “Secret Sauce” $27
Bottom Right: Asparagus Risotto, Sqash Blossom, Chervil, Castelmagnno Cheese $25
Bottom Left: Lobster Pot Pie, Baby Summer Veg, Brandied Cream Sauce $59

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Sweet Corn Soup: Pork Belly, Apple Cider, Cilantro and Sea Salt $15
Bottom Left: Nutella Custard: Popcorn Ice Cream, Toast Streusel, Passion Fruit $11

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Birthday Card from XIV Staff. Jade & my nephew Cody.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Uncle Peter, Jade & Cody.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Happy Birthday Jade!

XIV (restaurant now closed)
8117 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 656-1414

XIV Website

Dining Date: 9/10/09

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com

Our XIV dinner (with lots of cocktails) was $200 per person, so the DineLA deal is a wonderful way to try out the menu!

Restaurant Week> October 4 – 9 / October 11-16

Mentioned Above:

Meeting Michael Mina, San Francisco with the twins!

Michael Mina’s Website

About Michael Mina

Michelin Guide

XIV on Urbanspoon

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