Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Meatology and Veramonte Wines - mostly good!
August 26th 2016
Belly buster of a week on the food trail. Two Western style wine dinners in TTDI and two Chinese blow outs in the wilds of the KL environs. Thank the Lords for Waze. Well, most of the time - bugger still likes to take us on the wild goose hunt rather than the direct routes we know. Though most of the time it does seem to know best.
First up was Meatology Restaurant, which involved pairing fine meat with wines by Chilean producer Veramonte and introduced by visiting Brand Manager Sarah Hajjaji. Lenglui and I had actually visited this vineyard en route to catching a ship in Valparaiso out of Santiago in 2009. We figured we needed some booze for the boat and insisted the driver stop at a vineyard - Veramonte was the first sign we saw and there we supped and bought. The vineyard was like a vast ranchero with modern renovations to delight the tourists. But no cows. I remember the top end wines being stunners (Cabernet 2005 and 2006) and we bought what we could. We also managed to get the non drinkers to carry a couple extra for us and circumvent the apparent quota of two bottles per person for bringing on board - they most graciously agreed. Nice people.
We rarely see such good stuff make its way to these shores, a point I reminded Sarah of a number of times through the evening. Not sure if she got the message, but I live in hope. The most we see are the introduction Reserva varietals and the "Primus" which is an occasionally velvet and rich blend of the Veramonte varietals (Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot and Carmenere). But those Cabernets at the vineyard are seared into the memory - belting wines they were.
We arrived a bit late and found ourselves getting seated away from the main room where a predominantly young crowd were getting boisterous and noisily boozed. This turned out to be a blessing - we were able to sip and eat and enjoy some conversation with both ourselves and Cynthia and Sally from Cave and Cellar, organisers of the evening.
The restaurant has been up and running for about a year, with apparently an upstairs area to cater to larger groups. Previously going by the name of "Boathouse" (for eleven years according to one source), the name changed following the launch of a book written by Chef and Operator Yenni Law.
Foodwise, the dishes were pleasant enough. The zesty Mussel and Clam shot perked up the mouth whilst the Balsamic Bacon salted the whole. This all made for a lot of work for the Sauvignon Blanc to clean up which it efficiently did. The duck felt a bit flabby - bit like a day old chip of Tau Foo in texture and not much taste. As said, the SB was efficient in its cleansing and made for a good quaffer. I think it was 2014, so certainly peaking in friskiness terms. Worth to hunt down in the supermarkets for quick drinking.
My Seafood Bisque felt a bit cold, though perhaps this was my fault for arriving late (horrendous traffic on a Friday night and parking was madness). Tasty enough, though nothing that at this time of writing that stands out as memorable.
In contrast, the Escargot with Blue Cheese was a sparky salty creamy delight - all goo and chew and springle zaps in the cheeks. The snail texture was firm enough and the whole ensemble sang nicely. Would come back for this one.
Quite why it got paired with the Merlot was a bit strange. Okay, the cheesy aspect would match the gentle acid of the wine, but the fruit and tannin seemed well at odds with this kind of food. The Merlot itself was a pleasant mouthful of fruit and cool finishing, but ultimately pretty non descript. Pleasant but a bit thin and bland for my taste. I like my Merlot full and fleshy and ripe - a floozy rather than the fair and chaste maiden this Veramonte seemed to be offering. In this context, it did not overpower the dish. But by the same token it did not do much to enhance the thing. This Merlot might be a useful pizza party wine to glug and chug and clink with friends. But not one I would serve at the table for the more demanding palate.
I had the Ribeye whilst Lenglui and Texas had the Pork. I had a quick taste of the Pork which was a bit fiery on the tongue. Actually make that a LOT fiery on the tongue. Lovely fierce chili tang and bite and the pork was nicely done. Not my style of dish, but one that clearly would appeal hugely to the Malaysian palate. My ribeye was done nicely and tasted good, though a shade too much salt and seasoning for my taste. But still good and again one I would come back for.
But the star was the Panna Cotta, an absolute delight of light creamy melt in the mouth loveliness that food dreams are made of. It was perfect combo of sweet creamy lightness with a hint of herb and a sugar crunch that fused together in a pure moment of wonder. Star star star. Loved it. My diabetes went ballistic but screw it.
The Primus was indeed a blend in the standard Bordeaux style but the result was somewhat thin and lacking the whack one might expect from something that bills itself as "The Blend". The notes talked about "deep, dark opaque garnet. Exotic spice, toast and hints of tobacco and mint. Ripe red and dark berry fruit with spicy notes. Round mid palate with elegant yet powerful tannins." Didn't get it. Mine was firm, reasonably full in body though not so much that it would win any bodybuilding contests. Fruitwise, more plum than berry, yes to mint and low spice, and the mid was fair. Not a large finish, though after the third refill it seemed to gain more of a whack in the chest as it went down (must say the pourings were most generous on the night). It went reasonably well enough with the steak but naturally died with the tangy pork. Might have been stellar with the lamb. I have had Primus previously with Pork Rib at Checkers (2007, 8 or 9 - I forget) and it was vaguely reminiscent - pleasant mouth, not a big finish. Nice wine, but perhaps Meatology's big tasting beef overpowered it a bit.
Had a quick chat with Chef to share my thoughts. She seemed to take them on board, but ultimately who am I to argue with a veteran meat chef and book writer? She knows her meat and the best ways to cook the sucker. And getting all the food out reasonably hot to forty plus punters is always an achievement. Still, all these places are in competition with each other and need to maintain an edge to get the customer's gig.
Would I go back? On balance, yes. I would like to to see what Chef can do when there is not a large crowd to cater to all at the same time. Regret to say that I don't see in in the near future. It is a trek and a slog to get there and find a parking spot, though perhaps earlier in the week might prove a better choice. And there is always Uber, which Texas took on the night to get there way ahead of us (though he happily accepted a ride back). We shall see. Steak of choice remains Chambers at present (see previous write up). Not sure what the Meatology corkage policy is - give them a bell beforehand to check.
16 Lorong Rahim Kajai 14
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
03 7727 4426
Cave & Cellar
47, Jalan PJU 1a/16,
47301 Petaling Jaya,
Pre Dinner Canapes
Mussel and clam meat picante
Bacon Roll and Balsamic Glaze
Smoked Duck en Croute
Veramonte Riserva Sauvignon Blanc
Dinner 1st Course
Seafood Bisque laced with Brandy
Veramonte Riserva Sauvignon Blanc
Dinner 2nd Course
Creamy Escargot with Blue Cheese Spinach Cream
Veramonte Riserva Merlot
Pan Grilled Grass Fed Australian Ribeye with Shallot in Red Wine Jus
Grilled Lamb Loin with Tomato Raita
Baked Fiery Pork Ribs with a Spicy Tang Coat
Veramonte Primus Blend 2010
Panna Cotta with Organic Palm Sugar served with Rosemary perfumed Cream Cheese and Macaroon