I thought about what we ate and when, how we ate it, and then thought about the house named roll and how it essentially sums up the Coda palate:
'Coda roll, crisp parcel of bone marrow, ginger, shiitake mushroom and rice paddy herb'
Essentially a spring roll with pieces of bone marrow, shiitake and ginger inside, served with a lemon based dressing and stalks of lemony rice paddy herb. The bone marrow was rich and palate coating yet the dressing and herb add a refreshing acid lift.
I loved this. I love the seamless fusion of the ideas.
All the other dishes we ate were not neat fusions of Eur-Asian ideas such as the Coda Roll. The menu seemed to be split into South East Asian dishes focusing on Vietnam and Thailand or pure French benchmarks such as parfait, tartare and terrine. Yet as you would expect from a modern Australian menu there was Asian produce mixed through the European stalwarts; so oysters served with mirin and pomelo, or ginger in our coleslaw makes perfect sense, to us.
What didn't make perfect sense to me was the powerful flavours of Asia served at the same time as delicate French classics; my MacLeay Valley rabbit cassoulet was absolutely swamped on the taste front, by the in-your-face aromats of mussels stir fried with rice wine, chinese sausage and chilli. Likewise our steak tartare seemed under seasoned (perhaps it was) in comparison to the 'Quail Delight' flavour bombs or the spanner crab, galangal, chilli and lime betel leaves.
Perhaps these are just opening wobbles, we did dine just 8 days into what I no doubt predict will be a very successful business, but next time I will definitely be more careful about asking when my dishes will be served.
A high point of our evening was the amazing service. Mykal -who's face I know from MoVida and his partner Kate were absolutely glowing with pride in their first venue. Our waiter was friendly and had that perfect knack of being there just at the right time (though she had no idea of what the cheese selection was that night - perhaps that's a good indicator of the overriding importance put on the Asian dishes, especially since another person explained the use of the paddy herb with the precision of a biologist).
No doubt with chef partner Adam D'Sylva in the kitchen Asian dishes will be a focus, I just hope to see some balance across the broad range of flavours, tweaks are inevitable in a new restaurant and I am excited about my next visit, some of my most memorable European food experiences have happened in Asia, from artistic artichokes in Dalat to exquisitely matured Epoisses in Hong Kong and my favourite fusion on all, the banh mi. I hope to continue this traditional now at home, in Melbourne.