It's a self-described road trip across Europe. A celebration of the unusual and unexpected in cuisine, technique and style. On paper, everything about executive chef Ashley Davis' Seddon restaurant Copper Pot shouldn't work. Instead, the chef — who's previously been awarded two Michelin stars while heading the kitchen at London's Hélène Darroze — proves again why he, his team and menu are worthy of award.
The road trip menu ($65) at Copper Pot is, as Davis describes, his European 'best of'. But this is no slapstick compilation. Each dish is transportive and shows respect for the recipe in its native form. The medley opens with a serving of sourdough and schmaltz, a traditional spread made from the rendered fat of both pork and duck. Davis ad-libs with fresh herbs, dill and parsley, and a little pork crackling for texture — a small tweak to cater for an Australian palate. It is a surprisingly light combination, and an unusual alternative to a buttered bread roll. Positively, it catches the diner off-guard.
The Copper Pot team show a real dedication and belief in their cause. If the produce is not ready to come out of the ground, then they will not use it. You should expect the menu to be malleable as a result. There is also an emphasis on local and gathered ingredients. A wing of kingfish is paired with fried saltbush, foraged from local Melbourne beaches by the chefs themselves. The effect is exquisite — you can't help but feel a sudden pop in your lizard brain, placing you on the beach, salt in your hair and surf lapping at your ankles.
The techniques used to prepare the dishes — originating from France to Spain to Italy, and occasionally the more obscure — are all applied with absolute precision. It doesn't seem unusual, nor out of place, to enjoy a Catalonian-style pig's head croquette, followed by wild mushrooms and ricotta gnudi dumplings. The real litmus test though was dessert: crème brûlée. A recipe that Davis has been cooking for 17 years, and one that leaves nowhere to hide mistakes. That first satisfying crack of your spoon against the hardened caramel has to be as pleasurable as anything one could experience in this world.
Copper Pot Seddon is delightfully unpretentious. The feeling throughout is cosy, and their passionate staff only help to complete the experience. A knowledgeable sommelier makes the road trip wine pairing essential ($50 extra). If you do require an after-dinner caffeine hit, you'll be pleased to know that they're serving Market Lane espresso (from $3.40), brewed exclusively using the French press method. In all, Copper Pot is memorable experience that will keep you coming back.