As I've mentioned in previous posts, the Urbanspoon/dimmi 50% off specials that have been springing up lately have been pretty enticing. I've been using them as an excuse to try new places, and also get a bargain at the same time.
But when Three Five Three in Wembley was the offer of the week, I did a little silent dance in my mind not because of another discount opportunity, but rather mainly because I've been dying to check this place out. One of the what feels like hundreds of places on my wishlist.
This little neighbourhood gem has really appealed to me; piquing my interest in it's organic offerings and diverse menu. Finally I was going to try it out! (I'll list the standard pricing rather than our 50% food discount amounts.)
We arrive for our dinner booking exactly on time, opening the thick wooden door to reveal quite a beautiful and modern restaurant. The aesthetic is lovely, wooden tables and comfortable grey chairs with wooden legs. I like the simplicity of it, with low lighting, candles and each table decorated with a little jar of micro herbs growing happily.
The service starts off impeccable and continues that way throughout the night. The staff working are pleasant, friendly and bubbly - I like them immediately. They're quick to sort out water for the table, plus provide a bowl of complimentary popcorn which is salty and infused with truffle.
I really like the popcorn, it's moorish and when you get a good salty truffle hit they become addictive. It's a great snack while we're waiting on our drink orders and analysing the dinner menu.
Sweet sweet lovin
For my drink, I order the Sweet Sweet Lovin Cocktail ($16). It comes out presented in a martini glass and garnished with apple slices on a skewer. It's limoncello, chambord, vodka, lime and apple - and is icy-cold and sweet.
I really enjoy this cocktail. It's so easy on the lips and has a strong aftertaste that's equal parts lemon and cherry. It's a great drink and a nice change on your standard cocktails.
Two step apple cider
My boy Jeremy chooses a Gypsy Pear Cider from the menu but we're informed they only have Two Step Apple Cider ($11) on that night. He doesn't mind though as he hasn't tried Two Step, and is always on the hunt for a new cider to impress him.
This one is dry and strong, a nice change to the current wave of ciders which are sugary sweet (which is much more to my taste). He enjoys it with a nice tall glass of ice to keep it refreshing throughout the meal.
While cheersing to a nice night out, we place our order with our lovely waitress. We've chosen the special for the night, the Seafood Tasting Plate ($60). On Tuesday nights Three Five Three does away with their more formal menu and instead offers the bar menu. It's called Tastings of Three Five Three, and there's several different tasting boards to choose from as well as some entrees and mains.
The Seafood Tasting Plate comes out after about 15-20 minutes, and the plank it sits on is as long as the width of our table. It looks so phenomenal, and our waitress talks us through all the different elements that we have to enjoy.
We start off with the Salmon Ceviche which, with the other salmon on the board, is part of their standard textures & temperatures of hideaway salmon entree (normally $17).
It's a little round of diced salmon, topped with a quinelle of capsicum sorbet. There's a slick of tomato gazpacho next to it, and crispy skin leaning alongside. It looks great!
The salmon ceviche is nice but not as cold as I'd prefer, with probably not enough acidity in my opinion too. While the fish is definitely fresh, it just needs some extra zing and pep to the flavour profile.
I'm capsicum intolerant so the sorbet is all Jeremy's - he tells me it's quite sweet and actually doesn't taste like capsicum. But he said it does elevate the flavouring of the salmon, which is probably that pow factor that I was missing. The gazpacho on the side is cool and refreshing; the crispy skin cracking in half with a satisfying snap.
The second part of the hideaway salmon is a grilled miniature steak, which is perfectly pink in the centre and flakes away with the slightest prod of my fork. The skin on top has a nice crisp edge, which is a great contrast to the softness of the flesh.
The real winner here is the lemongrass creme it sits in. It's buttery and delicious, working well with the fish and also the caviar on side which are a couple of different sizes offering nice variety to each bite. This is my favourite dish of our main for sure.
The snapper is again perfectly cooked, retaining that meatiness that this kind of fish possesses. The skin is not as crispy as the salmon, but I don't mind the absence of crisp skin since it offers something different to the previous dish. I do wish there was more of that lemongrass creme though as I managed to grab a couple of bites of snapper with it and it worked well together.
I do like the fennel and sour citrus segments underneath which offers some strong flavours that compliment and enhance the fish. A nice dish, but following on from the salmon it doesn't impress as much.
Honey glazed prawns
The next tasting is of Honey Glazed Prawns with Wasabi Aioli (normally on the bar menu at $16). This dish seemed to separate Jeremy and I in our opinions of the flavours.
While the prawns are cooked right, retaining that nice snap when you pierce them with your knife, Jeremy felt that the dish was quite salty and there wasn't enough wasabi taste in the aioli.
I, on the other hand, didn't notice an overuse of salt which is interesting since I'm usually more sensitive to it than he is. While I agreed that the wasabi could have been stronger, I actually quite like the flavour - I think it's punchy enough that you recognise the wasabi without being hot for the average joe. I quite enjoy it, especially with the witlof salad underneath.
Hervey Bay scallops
The final dish on our Seafood Tasting Plate is the Hervey Bay Scallops with Chorizo, Leek Fondue and Black Garlic with a Limoncello Sabayon (normally on the bar and dinner menus at $19).
This is definitely a standout dish for the evening, falling just shy of the salmon that we both loved. The leek fondue underneath the other ingredients is warm, creamy and delicious. It has a really lovely sweetness that works well with the sweetness of the scallops. They're a little overcooked for my personal tastes, the char marks looking good but the texture a little bit rubbery for a couple of the scallops. The other scallops were on the money though and melted in your mouth.
Hervey Bay scallops
The chorizo has had a nice squeeze of lemon over the top, lifting the smokey flavour. It pairs so well with scallops, and the sabayon is an interesting twist on the dish. I like the generous serving of the sauce, it oozes on the plate with it's vivid yellow glossiness.
The black garlic dots are really interesting, with both of us fighting over the last one. They're jam-packed with flavour, and visually are quite captivating.
Strawberries and cream
We're both quite pleased after the Seafood Tasting Plate, but there's always room for dessert (especially a half priced dessert!). We scan the menu but decide after the success of our savoury items, the Dessert Tasting Plate ($29) sounds like a winner.
Our waitress talks us through it, as does the waiter who delivers it to our table. You can see how much they all really enjoy the food and the creative manner it is showcased to customers - the sparkle in their eye is evident every time they speak about it. It's truly lovely to witness!
The Dessert Tasting Plate starts off with a section called Strawberries and Cream. It's a quinelle of sweet strawberry granita next to creamy ice-cream. Both sit atop a scattering of white chocolate milk crumbs which are different sizes to give varying texture to each bite.
I really enjoy this part of the dessert. There's something so nostalgia ridden about the combination of strawberries and cream. When you scoop all three elements together they taste incredible, even though it looks so simple. I particularly like the texture of the granita which isn't too chunky or grainy, and is actually quite even.
The next part of the tasting plate has two Passionfruit Macarons. They're miniature in size, and while they don't have that satisfying crunch to the shells of the macarons, the flavour of them is quite extraordinary and more than makes up for that fact.
The Banoffee Pie is a really fun dessert (normally sold at $16). It's a chocolate shell, with pureed banana, banana slices, chantilly cream and more chocolate on top. There's more of that yummy white chocolate milk crumb, plus a scoop of pistachio ice-cream. Doesn't it look so good!
It's at this point as I take my first bite of the banoffee pie that I realise that Three Five Three have some really impressive desserts. This one is sweet and fun in it's playful take on a classic. The banana puree inside has that wow factor you look for in flavour, and the pistachio ice-cream is subtle. While not everyone loves banana in dessert, those that do would enjoy the indulgence of this dish.
The second last part of our dessert is the Chocolate Truffles, which are thin bitter chocolate casings filled with a jelly made from Grand Marnier (and orange flavoured cognac). Both Jeremy and I are not the biggest jaffa flavour fans (which is hilarious because when we had his birthday celebration with his family and twin brother last week they were given a jaffa cake), so this one isn't quite to our tastes.
I do like the inventiveness of having jelly inside the chocolate though, and when you bite down there's something quite cool about the way the shell shatters and the jelly explodes everywhere in your mouth. For jaffa addicts, this is right up your alley.
Trio of chocolate bavaroise
The final dish for the desserts is by far my favourite of them all (and also our waiter's which he informs us with a childlike glee). It's the Trio of Chocolate Bavaroise with Rustleberry Sorbet (normally on the dessert menu at $16).
When we're described the dish, our waiter tells us he thinks of it as yogo with pop rocks. While the description doesn't quite convince me, I have to admit he's right when I take my first bite. The bavaroise is like a layered mousse but uses gelatin so it has a firmer texture. It's wobbly but not like pannacotta, and the layers are stuck together stubbornly.
I really enjoy the rich chocolateyness of each bite, especially when you mix in bites of the rustleberry sorbet. It's a really well executed and satisfying dessert. And it's also a great way to finish our night at Three Five Three.
We ask for the bill not long after, happy and sated in our meal. Unfortunately the bill comes out without the 50% discount which means we awkwardly (and yes I mean awkwardly) have to ask for it to be applied. Thankfully our fantastic waitress takes it in her stride and fixes it up for us without batting an eyelid. Phew! It could have really made the night end in a different light if it hadn't been fixed up with such ease.
All up the dinner at Three Five Three was pleasant, enjoyable and threaded with some wow moments. While not all the dishes were mind blowing, there wasn't anything we didn't like and we'd happily return back again possibly for breakfast or even the degustation. And we'll definitely be ordering that bavaroise again - yum, yum, yum!