Celebrated our birthdays at The Gantry and what a disaster it was

We decided to try a new place to celebrate our birthdays this year. A new place to have a vegetarian degustation menu with wine pairing experience, to be precise. John found this place called The Gantry. It’s located at the end of The Rocks (Walsh Bay), right underneath the Harbour Bridge with a spectacular view (video attached). However, the experience did not match the location.

The moment our first entrée was served, a waitress who was passing by and carrying wine spilt the wine over John’s side of the table, soaking his arm, his cardigan as well as his shirt (they both need to be washed now). Our starters and John’s bread were drenched, too. Accidents happen, we get that but she didn’t even do a good job of cleaning up. John wiped the table with his napkin because it was still wet after her attempt. They took away our starters and John’s bread. Five minutes later, we were served again but nobody noticed that John’s bread was never replaced.

So, that’s how our birthday dinner started…

We decided to go for 7 courses vegetarian tasting menu as some of the dishes were more interesting and we didn’t want to miss out. It’s $119 per person and you add $85 on top of that for wine pairing. Here’s the menu:

THE GANTRY
7 courses vegetarian tasting menu

Curd – slow cooked grains – mushroom – smoked prune
Chestnut – brassica – white raisin – potato
Panisse – sour peppers – green garlic – almond
Sunchokes – endive – pine mushroom – mustard
Sheep cheese – kohlrabi – onions – salted egg
Blackberry – yoghurt – shiso – grape
Fig – brown butter – oats – honey – milk

Curd – slow cooked grains – mushroom – smoked prune
This is the first starter of the night. It was a well-balanced dish however the curd disappeared into mushroom broth, the smoked prune was very light on smoke so it was very much like biting into a dessert rather than a savoury starter. The ancient slow cooked grains were farro, quinoa and barley and they were quite filling. The wine which was paired for this first course was Wickery’s Riesling. It is a typical Australian Reisling. Quite acidic that the sourness of it catches you at the back of your palate. I guess it was okay but nothing special.

Chestnut – brassica – white raisin – potato
Caramelised purple cauliflower with white raisin, chestnut foam and white Riesling sauce. I couldn’t taste the earthiness of chestnut in this dish at all but the potatoes were nicely done. The dish was paired with an Australian Gruner Vetliner with an incredibly elusive nose, almost like white spirit. In the taste department, it wasn’t saying much. On top of that, the wine did not go well with the dish at all.

Panisse – sour peppers – green garlic – almond
The sour peppers in this dish were so sour that they put Turkish turşu to shame. Panisse was done very well. As for the wine, it was paired with a 2016 Yarra Valley chardonnay and thank God it was wooded. I really don’t like unwooded chardonnay. It doesn’t matter how popular or trendy unwooded chardonnay becomes, to me it’s like flat coke.

Sunchokes – endive – pine mushroom – mustard
Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) were beautifully done, the onions were caramelised well in this dish. The whole thing was topped with very thin potato skins. This dish was paired with Cooter & Cooter 2015 Shiraz from Australia and it was such a disappointment. It was raw, rough with very coarse tannins. No softness or finesse whatsoever. It’s the kind of wine you get from a cheap pub. Another disappointment!

Sheep cheese – kohlrabi – onions – salted egg
I must admit, this was the most disappointing dish of the night. What you have here is caramelised onions (again), farro porridge, kohlrabi and very rancid cheese. I couldn’t finish mine and it gave John a funny tummy. To make things worse, it was paired with an Italian Nebbiolo which was very basic. No nose to speak of, either.

Blackberry – yoghurt – shiso – grape
This was presented as a palate cleanser but it was the first dessert. Palate cleansers are served earlier on to transition you from mixed flavours and prepare your palate for the next dish. It was basically blackberry sorbet with bitter shiso. It was paired with a dessert wine which was nice.

Fig – brown butter – oats – honey – milk
And the second dessert. They talk about seasonality however the fig was under ripe, big time. It was paired with a 2016 Frogmore Creek dessert wine from Tasmania. It was a nice dessert wine but it’s so hard to get dessert wines wrong.

The Verdict
The Gantry was by far the most disappointing vegetarian degustation experience we have ever had. The food sounded interesting on paper but the flavours didn’t match that well. Contrasting flavours don’t create well-balanced harmony on a plate every time. As for the service, there wasn’t much floor management happening either. It’s a shame because we were so looking forward to trying a new place. Well, we are definitely going back to Bentley’s for the next celebration (our wedding anniversary, that is) or Yellow.

Viasko Vegan Restaurant, Berlin

My Viasko Vegan Restaurant review on VegFusion (my food blog).

I must admit, Viasko was close to fiasco. The area was bad; we didn’t feel safe there. We had to walk for quite some time to get to the restaurant after taking the bus.

Our waitress was very much like a walking catalog of a tattoo and piercing parlor and it wasn’t a good first impression. The décor was dull and pretty much everything had this “cheaply done” kind of look.

In my opinion, the only good thing going for the place is the book nook (below).

Viasko is a fully vegan restaurant so you expect some compromise in taste but it was more compromise than we would have like to have. Food was actually average.

As a starter we shared Antipasti (olives, hummus and sun-dried tomatoes) which came with a small basket of bread. €3.90

Hummus was thick, sun-dried tomatoes tasted like they came out of a jar and the olives weren’t even marinated.

As for the mains we had:

Breaded soy medallions with white asparagus, baked cherry tomatoes, arugula and steamed potatoes. €15.90

Breaded soy medallions were dry.

Cheese “spätzle” with onion rings and cucumber salad in dill cream dressing. €11.90

Onion rings were not covered with the batter properly, cheese “spätzle” was just okay and dill cream salad dressing had the taste of moisture.

If you really must go, Viasko can be found at this address below:

Viasko Vegan Restaurant
Erkelenzdamm 49,
10999 Berlin
Website

Lehka Hlava (Clear Head) Vegetarian Restaurant and Tea Room, Prague

Lehka Hlava (Clear Head) Vegetarian Restaurant and Tea Room, Prague

Lehka Hlava means easy head or clear head and is the sister restaurant of Maitre. We were told about Clear Head during our first and second visit to Maitre so we had to check it out.

Clear Head is tucked in on a little side street which is said to be the shortest street in Prague. The whole area has a renovated medieval charm to it. But, that’s outside. Inside, the décor is quite unique; it’s so colourful from the ceilings to the lamps. In certain areas you feel as if you have just stepped into a different galaxy.

The vibe is also different to Maitre I must say. It is more hip and edgy; mostly frequented by young people –naturally. But boy they do wicked gyros here. It was so good, I didn’t care about what my husband had there; I was busy enjoying my seitan gyros 🙂

 

Seitan Gyros with tzatziki, pita bread, cherry tomatoes and lettuce (above)
I have never had seitan gyros that soft before. It was an absolute triumph in the taste department as well as the texture. We tried to get the recipe unsuccessfully.

If you ever find yourselves in Prague, check this place out.
Lehka Hlava (Clear Head) Vegetarian Restaurant and Tea Room
Address: Borsov 2/280, Prague 1 – Old Town
Website

LoVeg Vegan Cuisine and Specialties, Prague

LoVeg Vegan Cuisine and Specialties, Prague

We were on our way to Prague Castle and surprised to see a sign saying “LoVeg Vegan Restaurant 222m” in an area called The Lesser Town (see the left corner of the photo below). It was lunch time and we decided to go and have a bite to eat without questioning the ingredients –although Prague has been really good with our kind of food.

After 222 metres, we found the place and started to climb the stairs. It was kind of eerie and dark but you get there.

When you do get there… this is what it looks like. There is another staircase (the iron one in the photo) to go upstairs, to the roof which we haven’t been.

Menu at LoVeg is bilingual and quite an international one too. From Asian to Czech specialties, everything is pretty much covered. There is nothing special about the food, I must say; it’s just vegan food. Since we stopped by for lunch, we didn’t want anything too big. So, John had Thai coconut curry (tofu, mushroom, sweet peas and spring onion) which is served with jasmine rice. I didn’t take a photo of it as I find curries not so photogenic. I, on the other hand, opted for LoVeg Burger which is made of beetroot, chickpeas, tempeh, “vegan bacon” and served with salad leaves, tomato, Dijon mustard and baked potato. And I do have a photo of it.

To drink we both had a glass of home-made lemonade with a citrus mix (orange, grapefruit, lime and lemon). The waitress made it fresh behind the bar where we could see it.

Although, as a vegetarian, I ask for food without a face but my burger bun had one 🙂 as you can see in the photo above.

The view from the window (above)

LoVeg Vegan Cuisine and Specialties can be found in this address:
Nerudova 221/36, 118 00 Praha 1
Website (not in English, by the way)