Melbourne is a city of secrets and while Ezard might not be one of them, finding it is still a bit of a treasure hunt. The restaurant by award-winning chef Teage Ezard is tucked along one of the city's most eclectic lanes (Flinders), down at the basement of the Adelphi Hotel. You could walk past if you weren’t looking for it.
Inside, the semi-subterranean den is a sophisticated haven with whitewashed walls, crisp white tablecloths and well-informed, courteous staff, whizzing past a crowd that’s a mix of suited corporates and romantic couples. If you’re short on time, opt for the restaurant’s three-course Express Lunch Menu, which includes a glass of wine and dishes such as scallop dumplings and twice-cooked pork belly, or the four-course Pre-Theatre Tasting Menu with offerings such as Chinese-style duck breast.
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But to really appreciate the width of Ezard’s culinary spectrum, book in for the Eight Course Tasting Menu, which kicks off with a decidedly delicious Japanese-inspired oyster shooter served with yuzu jelly, cucumber and apple sorbet, and paired with a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. More seafood courses follow – cured swordfish with ribbons of pickled cucumber; spanner crab dumplings doused in a Thai-style broth and served with Yarra Valley salmon roe; and sesame-crusted ocean trout with soy noodles.
But it is the penultimate meat course that brings the house down – a seamless medley of eight-score wagyu beef, caramelised cauliflower, smoked ox tongue and pepper jus. Leave room for the dessert, though – the tasting platter with corn-infused crème caramel and honey-crunch ice-cream is a standout, particularly when paired with a pour of Dumangin Ratafia de Champagne.
Location: 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9639 6811; teageezard.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Atmosphere: A refined, sophisticated dining room with a stylishly dressed crowd
Open: Monday-Friday for Lunch and Monday-Saturday for dinner
Big tick: The staff – well turned out, well informed and courteous
Must-try: The oyster shooter, without a doubt