Degustation dining with one hell of a view.
October 03, 2013
If you want a view of the city, the Eureka Tower is where you’re going to get it. Fortunately, you can bypass the tourist-clad Skydeck for a seat on level 89, where you'll get a degustation menu to go with your panoramic view. Perhaps not so fortunate is the absence of an a la carte menu, making dining at Eureka 89 reserved mainly for proposals, anniversaries or other occasions worthy of a splurge. But, if you're just a sucker for degustation dining and can part with $150, this is the place to do it — it's one of the few venues where you get an uninterrupted city view with every course.
Eureka 89 certainly aims fulfil the fine dining prophecy, from the red-carpeted entrance to the window-side seating, and every foam, gel and ‘dust’ in between. The 89th floor is more like a labyrinth than a dining room, but means you'll be seated right up against the floor-to-ceiling windows and be given the luxury of dining with a very comfortable radius of personal space. In the low, red-tinged light you barely notice the other diners; low chatter and the clinking of wine glasses make up the soundtrack.
With all that skyline swagger, you might expect the food to pale in comparison to the spectacle of it all. Thankfully, it's just as worthy of your attention. With a degustation the only option, choose a five- ($95 food only; $150 with matching wines) or a seven-course experience ($130 food only; $210 with matching wines). Five is more than satisfying; seven is purely indulgent.
Settle in and marvel at the shiny lights with a drink — the Apple Deluxe with Zubrowka bison grass vodka, licor 43, apple and fresh lime ($18) is the perfect pre-dinner cocktail — and the waitstaff will run you through the seasonal menu. The menu differs month-to-month, but expect courses such as the marron with fennel and baby leek and the Flinders Island lamb with a fine potato gratin, butter-cooked squash, mint gel and parsnip foam. A standout dish — carefully constructed in flavour and presentation — is the sous vide duck: tender, juicy and fatty, it is matched with pieces of compressed beetroot, celeriac puree and a single, dark cherry. The Devils Staircase Pinot Noir 2012 is the ideal complement, with its richness and subtle cherry undertones.
If you want some balance, you'll find it in dessert. The first is a Granny Smith masterpiece, which presents the humble fruit in more textures than ever before. With cubes of compressed apple, apple meringue, gel, foam, dust and a sprinkle of crumble, the dish is tangy and fresh. But for all the crispness, be assured you'll receive a rich send-off. The chocolate fondant with mandarin, burnt orange ice cream and honeycomb is just as decadent as the Kracher Trockenbeerenauslese NV from Austria served with it.
As the fifth course is taken away and you finish with coffee or tea, you might look at your watch. It's been nearly four hours. Below, the lights are still shining and the toy trams are still gliding along the street. Up above the city the traffic is muted; time is not important here, the experience is. A visit to Eureka 89 is a spectacle, no doubt, but it's not a gimmick. It's degustation dining, but with one hell of a view.