We had a pretty decent breakfast at A Fan's Notes last year, but it was a pretty low-key brunch place at the time, so I was surprised when I read on facebook that they'd started doing fancy degustations on the weekends. They take it week about: meaty one week and vegan the next. I hit up the vegan night with a couple of friends to try things out.
You get five courses for a very reasonable $40, and they've got a good selection of vegan beer and wine to accompany the food. The staff are casual and friendly, and the atmosphere is still more dive bar than fine-dining, which suits me down to the ground.
Onto the food! The first course was a sesame and peanut crusted rice paper roll, with enoki, pickled cucumber, burnt eggplant and miso dressing. This was a fancy twist on a a classic - crunch from the cauliflower and peanut, and a lovely mix of smokiness and umami from the eggplant and miso.
Next up was probably my favourite dish of the night: heirloom carrots, polenta, zucchini & pinenut puree with olives and seeds.
This dish really lets the veggies shine, with the polenta chips adding some salty goodness. Simple, but effective.
Next up was a butternut and caramelised onion agnolotti with smoked hazelnut pesto, artichoke and white bean puree.
This felt like the most 'fine dining' dish of the night - dustings of powders, dabs of pesto and micro-greens garnishing a soft and sweet agnolotti and a wedge of caramelised onion. Fancy.
The last of the savoury dishes was a crispy fennel-stuffed onion with potato puree, toasted corn and truffle.
This was another winner - the little roasted ball of fried goodness sitting on top of a smooth smear of creamy potato, all backed up by the salsa-esque corn.
The dessert course finished things off: an apple and date trifle with coconut custard, pistachio crumb and mandarin.
This was another lovely mix of textures and flavours - not too sweet and with plenty of fruit, but still indulgent enough to be a worthy ending to a fine meal.
At $40 a head, this is a really good value meal - among the best value vegan meals in town. Ray's vegan degustation was cheaper, but it's been discontinued (at least over winter), meaning only Shu is really offering a similarly-priced vegan degustation. It's a lovely venue, with great staff, good music and a really fun atmosphere. Hopefully A Fan's Notes keep these degustations running - you should really get along as soon as you can to make sure they do.
Read about our last trip to A Fan's Notes here. I can't find any blog reviews of the degustations yet - hopefully the buzz will keep building.
A Fan's Notes
787 Nicholson St, Carlton North
our menu (it changes every fortnight)
Accessibility: There's a flat entry way to a slightly crowded interior. You order at the table and pay at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.