Thursday, May 7, 2015

Royal Saxon, Richmond (by invitation) by Bureaucrat

With the name Royal Saxon, I was expecting horned helmets, shiny breastplates and hordes of Germanic warlords humming "kill the wabbit!".  Instead, what we found was a very chic and comfortable fit-out of sleek ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking a casually elegant courtyard, intimate mood lighting and exquisite Italian-inspired cuisine.

We were well looked after by attentive and knowledgeable manager, Bryan, throughout our dinner to try out Royal Saxon's autumn menu.  The chef was keen for us to try as many of their seasonal dishes, so (thankfully) the entrees and desserts were modified so that they were smaller than the serves that what you would usually get.

We had a trio of entrees to get our appetites going, which were matched with 2013 Banfi 'Le Rime' pinot grigio from Tuscany, and a 2014 Coombe Farm pinot noir from the Yarra Valley.  First up was a delicate parcel of baked haloumi, wrapped in zucchini and filo pastry, topped with roasted toms, frisee and mint salad and vincotto.  A wonderful mouthful of oozing cheese. I especially loved the addition of mint in the salad which gave a lovely fresh and unexpected accent to the dish.

The pork croquettes had a delightful crunch on the outside and was stuffed with tender, slow-cooked pork cheeks.  Usually, I'm a bit squeamish eating cheeks but here, I did not mind at all - I think it being in cube shapes helped!  Although this dish harks back to cucina povera, it most definitely didn't taste povera.  The creamy buffalo mozzerella and flavoursome puy lentils made the dish special. This would be a great dish to go with some drinks as it is nicely salty and crunchy.

The calamari 'alla Catalana' was very tender and refreshing. I loved the gazpacho base and the juicy cherry tomatoes, pickled shallots and the slight nuttiness from the fresh broad beans.

Our trio of main dishes were paired with a 2013 Snake and Herring 'Tough Love' chardonnay from Margaret River and a 2013 Las Moras malbec from Cuyo, Argentina.  One of our favourite dishes of the night was the hand-made strozzapreti (meaning 'priest strangler') w Crystal Bay prawns, Sea Bounty mussels, Tasmanian scallops, chili and basil.  Each noodle was hand rolled to resemble the rope that is wrapped around a priest's waist.  The strozzapreti was perfectly al dente with a nice chewiness - a lovely mouthfeel.

The rolled and roasted chicken stuffed with parsnip, kale and pinenuts, and topped with fried sage and parsnip was very tender and juicy. It had a lovely crispy, golden skin and the chicken was incredibly juicy.  Delicious!

The snapper 'al cartoccio' with silverbeet, white wine, Sicilian anchovies and lemon came served all wrapped up in baking paper - straight from the oven.  We unwrapped the paper to reveal a very fresh fillet of delicate snapper.  

Needless to say, Mr Strong and I were feeling very full by this point but we valiantly pressed ahead with dessert.  To go with our desserts, we had a 2011 Konrad Noble Two Riesling-Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Our favourite of the two desserts was the peanut butter ganache on banana bread and frozen yoghurt.  This was unlike any school fete or shop-bought banana bread - this was a fudgy, sophisticated banana bread that was very, very nicely done.  Who would have thought the humble banana bread could be such a grown-up dessert?

Last but not least was the tiramisu and amaretti semifreddo w candied apricots and chocolate sauce.  A lovely dessert for those who prefer their desserts to be not too sweet.  Deep, balanced flavours of coffee, chocolate and almonds. 

Verdict: we loved it.

We dined here on a Tuesday night and given the quality of the food and the great ambiance, it was no surprise that the place was pretty full in the bar and the restaurant.  Bryan told us that they have many regulars ad office workers who come for a drink and then kick on to dinner here.  Royal Saxon is classy, quality fare and has really nailed the elegantly casual dining experience.  

Royal Saxon on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I like it too!

Anonymous said...

good. we will go next week.

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