It was a food adventure, an evening where every dish was a surprise and challenge to identify the ingredients - a wild romp of flavours.
Celebrating local produce, Richard Ousbey, Executive Chef of the Stokehouse Restaurants nationally, showed his flavour artistry with Richard Goes Rogue, a degustation dinner that had guests guessing what was on their plates. It was certainly a five course meal with a difference and judging from the guest response, it will be followed by more of the same ilk.
Using a list of ingredients, team tables worked together to decide what was included in each dish, a challenge much harder than it sounds.
Guiding us through the night was wine connoisseur and sommelier Peter Marchant at his most amusing.
First dish of the evening was a table decoration, a salad posy with bright nasturtium flowers and soft lettuce foliage.
We started with a small bowl of Silver Lake eel dashi, one of Richard's favourite get home late at night snacks, with house made bottarga. Then there were some balls of kangaroo tartare topping nasturtium leaves and glazed chicken hearts on skewers.
Canapes were served at the table as sharing plates to promote discussion and to help people at the tables to get to know each other.
While my companions were sure it was pork crackling, the drops of garum curded egg were resting on chicken skin topped with wild fennel. Whatever! It was totally scrummy.
Pumpkins curds and whey was served with cave-aged parmigiano-reggiano.
When the roasted tailor topped with XO sauce, thistle and mussel broth arrived I was starting to question everything. It looked like fish, tasted like fish but was it some clever substitution? Thankfully this time I got it right.
The Macquarie Downs wagyu was a beautiful piece of meat but the stilton rubbed around the rim and aged for three days had everyone confused. It created a subtle, delicious fatty, crust-like layer that had us wondering what cut of meat it could be.
There was a palate cleanser, of course, a delightfully fresh sorbet combo of apple and coriander. The coriander was easy to guess but the apple flavour was subtle.
When it came to dessert I started to get excited when I saw what looked like lolly bags appearing at the kitchen pass. Plates arrived on the with a smattering of red skin, lemongrass and guava and the bags were designed to be tipped out over the plate and consumed combined. It was a fun end to the meal.
Watch out for more of this style event from Stokehouse. Judging by the tables around me, this is a good experience for groups who can team up to guess the ingredients used in the meal.
Ed+bK Rating: This was a five-star event. Interesting and innovative flavours from a top chef combined with an interactive, fun night.
Best tip: Don't park under Southbank for long night events. My parking bill from 6.30pm to 10.30pm was $30. Try the Convention Centre car park.
Bottom line: The Richard Goes Rogue dinner was $140 per person.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Stokehouse Q