Saturday, January 11, 2014

Restaurant Review: Annie Smithers Bistrot & Produce

Location: 72 Piper Street, Kyneton
Phone: 03 5422 2039
Link: www.anniesmithers.com.au
Cuisine: French, International, Modern European
Overall Impression: 9/10
Iconic Annie Smithers Bistrot was recently taken-over by passionate Tim and Michelle Foster, bringing about a brilliant modern twist to the menu whilst retaining the métier and the spirit of the bistro, in one of Piper Street's most beautiful spaces. 
 Tim & Michelle Foster

Under Tim's guidance, the kitchen offers high-quality cuisine in a relaxed setting. The highlight of the cuisine served is seemingly simple but carefully prepared dishes; the fruit of Tim and Michelle's expansive experience in the world of hospitality. 

Tim was most recently the Executive Chef at Healesville Hotel Group, and prior to that was Head Chef at Hollicks Winery Coonawarra. Whilst his wife Michelle is a qualified Chef, she now works as the front of house Manager. 
House-made sourdough

The dining room combines an atmosphere that is warm, welcoming, modern yet rustic and relaxed.  From the kitchen flows a careful selection of healthy, seasonal gourmet cuisine in the traditional bistro style. 
Amuse bouche - Cold tomato soup with ricotta and bacon

What we experienced was sensational. The menu is based on two central elements: top-quality ingredients from local producers and a strong  European influence. This enables the bistro to offer its guests the best meats, fish, vegetables and fruit available in Victoria. 
Left: Pan seared scallops, confit free range chicken wings, Jerusalem artichoke puree & chips, fresh asparagus, pickled kohlrabi
Right: Grilled partially de boned quail, buckwheat polenta, broad beans, prosciutto, peperonata, jus
Tortellini filled with cauliflower & comte cheese, roast cauliflower, golden raisons, pickled walnuts, sage, brown butter

Our favourite entree, the tortellini was exceptional. The filling of deliciously savoury and melt in your mouth cauliflower was encased in al dente pasta. The accompanying roast cauliflower, raisins, pickled walnuts and stunning brown butter sauce made this a perfectly executed, expertly balanced and intelligent dish.
Left: Aged Sidonia Hills beef, fondant potatoes, grilled asparagus, horseradish creme, beetroot jus
Right: A side of salad from local growers' garden

The steak was beautifully cooked and arrived cooked medium as requested. Perfectly seared on the outside and beautifully juicy and pink on the inside. It was evident that the meat was sourced from a quality producer and great care had been taken in its preparation.
Confit free range duck leg, brined & smoked breast, eggplant puree, beans, cherry jus, fat hen

The slices of duck breast were cooked to a rarely found perfection with the subtle smokiness allowing the rich flavour of the duck to shine through. The accompanying confit leg was tender, the skin crisp. The sweet and sticky cherry jus provided the crowning element to a luxurious dish. 
Consistent with our savoury courses, the desserts that followed were superbly executed, well balanced and fresh.
Left: Rich chocolate delice, strawberries, blueberries, cumquat brandy, lavender honeycomb, pink lake salt meringues, Redesdale estate olive oil ice cream
Right: Lemon verbena poached yellow peach, white chocolate mousse, summer berries, pistachio dacquoise

The rich chocolate delice was, as its name suggests, decadently rich. The lavender honeycomb added a lovely textural element.

The lemon verbena poached yellow peaches exhibited a vibrant combination of flavours. 
Buttermilk panna cotta, new seasons rhubarb, shortbread, strawberry sorbet, rose

The panna cotta was smooth and well crafted, the rhubarb was cooked to perfection. The sorbet had a bold fresh strawberry flavour and the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the shortbread accompanied perfectly. 

Of particular note is that despite the complexity of the dishes crafted by Tim Foster, each element on every plate was cohesive and necessary, and when eaten together were stunning.
Under Tim and Michelle, Annie Smithers brings traditional, classic dishes bang up to date using local and seasonal produce. The reputation of Annie Smithers appears to be in safe hands. 

Annie Smithers Bistrot & Produce on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Annie Smithers Bistrot.

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