Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Deer Duck Bistro - Rise of the suburban bistro


There is no other way to describe Deer Duck Bistro, from the moment you walk up to the front door to the moment you are seated and looking through the menu, eclectic is the phase that comes to mind.  There is no rhyme nor reason to Deer Duck, no pretty place settings and conforming and stylish chairs and tables.  Instead you have interesting art, chairs and tables that don't match and cutlery that could have come from your Granny's kitchen drawer.  It's quirky, charming and quite refreshingly different from most of the other restaurants around town.

Deer Duck is located in Auchenflower on Milton Road, but don't let that put you off, there is plenty of parking in the nearby side streets, and if you know your way around the area, plenty of back street driving keeps you off the very busy Milton Road.  Deer Duck itself is relatively new, having been around for just over 12 months, but is a reincarnation of Sava Sava.

The menu is eclectic also, with lots of variations and interesting sounding dishes.  One thing to note, there is not a vast range of menu options available,  and today there were only 3 entrees, 5 mains and 2 desserts.  SC and I came on a Tuesday night, so we had the option of a la carte, but if you come on Friday or Saturday night, you need to be aware that there is a set menu.

With such a limited range of entree's it was interesting that two of them featured raw meat.  SC decided on the Venison Carpaccio, Hazelnut Crumble and Parmesan Pannacotta, which was beautifully presented on the plate (more accurately, on one side of the plate).  SC loves venison so it was no shock that she went for this.  The venison was sliced extremely thin and placed on the hazelnut crumble, which ensured that there was a nice texture in each mouthful of the very gamey venison.  The parmesan pannacotta was smooth and added a nice salty taste to the meat.  SC loved this dish, but wished there was more of it.

My entree was the Wallaby tartare with cornichon spheres (essentially gherkin spheres) and again it looked spectacular when presented.  I am going on record as saying this is the best tartare I have ever eaten.  I have tried Kangaroo meat before and not really liked it, but the Wallaby was sweet and gamey at the same time, while being extremely tender.  There were gherkin balls and gherkin pieces, along with finely chopped spanish onion.  The textures were amazing and the taste equally so.  SC tried some of this and was also blown away, given SC eats tartare more often than I do, this is a huge compliment.

SC main was the Confit Duck Fettuccine, Smoked Heirloom Tomatoes with Chervil (like parsley) which came out in a big bowl and looked very inviting.  This was an impressively balanced bowl of pasta, with succulent and perfectly cooked duck and lovely thin strips of fettuccine.  The heirloom tomatoes added a nice bit of colour and acidity to the pasta.  This was a very generous plate of food, with a heap of duck on show.   The mouthful of this that SC shared with me made me question my selection and I definitely had a bit of food envy.

I was super impressed with the presentation of my main, which was Spatchcock two ways, Rhubarb, White Fig and Baby Carrot Forest.  There were many different types and colours of baby carrots cut to resemble a 'forest' in as much that they were pointing to the sky.  While the plate looked as pretty as a picture, the flavours and combinations were also fantastic.  Well cooked spatchcock with a jus and a white fig puree worked wonderfully with the subtle yet sweet spatchcock.  The main problem with this dish for me was that there was not much protein on the plate and while a spatchcock is very small bird,  and I was expecting that, there was not enough food on the plate for a growing boy.  Given this was the most expensive item on the menu at $39, I am not sure it represented good value.  I suppose the cost came in the effort to get it on the plate, but seriously, there just needed to be more.

As mentioned, there were only two dessert options available but there was a cheese selection on the menu as well.  SC enquired about this, but we were told that it was only available for two and I am not a big cheese fan so we both decided to have a dessert each

There was a bit of drama and theatre  with SC's dessert, the Mystical Chocolate Garden, with a pot full of dry ice that started to 'steam up' with some water.   The chocolate garden looked amazing with quenelles of rich chocolate, chunks of white chocolate, chocolate gravel and green sponge cake. SC loved this dessert and commented that she was waiting for the sugar rush to kick in at the end.  This continued the theme of exceedingly pretty dishes that tasted as good as they looked.

Left with only one option for dessert, I had the Strawberries and Cream.  When you order a dish like strawberries and cream at a restaurant like Deer Duck, you really could get anything.  The dish consisted of dehydrated strawberry chips, fresh strawberries, strawberry coulis, icing sugar and a vanilla pannacotta all decorated with edible flowers.  It was a very nice dessert and the components all worked really well together, but there was something missing.  I think I would have liked some more liquid or coulis with this as the strawberry chips made for a very 'dry' dish.  I would also have liked it if there was more of it!

This was the second time SC and I had been to Deer Duck Bistro, and was a much better experience than the last time.  Previously, we both thought that Deer Duck had made the cardinal sin of producing beautiful food that did not match the looks with the flavour.  This was certainly not the case tonight, with the food both looking and tasting amazing.

Our experience was not without fault tonight, when we first arrived the air conditioner was set to arctic and we were sitting right in front of it and by the time we had finished the meal, I was suffering frostbite (not really, but I was very cold). Also, I would also say that the value for money is not quite right either, with the portion sizes being a little small for the cost.  It is clear that a heap of effort goes into each and every plate delivered, but you don't want to leave a restaurant hungry, which is what happened for me.

I really like the concept of Deer Duck, the food is extremely tasty and the environment is quirky and fun.  If you have a sense of adventure and don't mind chairs and tables that don't match, then I think Deer Duck is the place for you.


Quirky  styling inside with old world charm

Chairs and tables that dont match

There is a Christmas star of the antlers of the Deer on the wall

Colourful and quirky

Odd bits of art are everywhere

Deer Duck Bistro on Urbanspoon

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