Teague Ezard's eponymous eatery located below the depths of Flinders Lane is not something simply stumbled upon. Only those with an exceptionally keen eye will notice the glowing chartreuse sign stamped with an 'e' above steep stairs leading to a subterranean secret.
After 14 years, Ezard has solidified itself as one of Melbourne's leading restaurants focused on delivering a timeless dining experience within a highly refined interior. White tablecloths are offset against dark chairs, dim lighting and sleek, congruent monochrome.
Ezard's fare is 'Australian freestyle', with evidence that inspiration is often drawn from the excitement of Asian flavours. The menu is thorough — a varied offering for the adventurous, weaving unusual combinations to create consistently tasty dishes. The eight-course degustation ($160) is perfect for satiating those with an exploratory stomach; for Friday and Saturday night diners, the three-course fixed price menu ($104) is the path that must be taken.
To start, the steamed spanner crab dumplings with Yarra Valley salmon roe, chervil and coconut tom kha ($31) is the obvious choice — the softness of the dumpling skin and filling teamed with the shallow serving of soup will send you into reverie. Once the entree has been savoured, the hard task comes in the form of choosing a main. Will it be the Chinese-style duck breast with massaman curry, coconut rice, watermelon and Asian salad ($52) or the master stock fried pork hock with chilli caramel, spicy Thai beanshoot salad and fragrant jasmine rice ($49)? It's no surprise to find they're all as devastatingly delightful as they sound. Delicately arranged on the plate, every ingredient is a feature.
To slip into the food coma you've been waiting for, don't skip on dessert. It's not like previous courses. Ezard makes the selection easier with the dessert tasting plate to share ($49), with six ample portions of sweet treats designed for two. Honeycrunch ice cream with toasted gingerbread, cinnamon oil and sugar swirl ($21) is the standout, while summer berries with yoghurt mousse, raspberry sorbet, strawberry meringue and mint ($21) is a most refreshing way to end the evening.
Fellow guests are quiet but buzzing and the service is attentive without being overbearing. With over a decade of practice, ezard has perfected the art of first-rate feasting, evident from the presentation of the food, foundation and erudite wait staff.
'E' doesn’t just stand for Ezard, but for experience, elegance and eloquence.