1160 High St
Armadale, VIC 3143
One of my favourite ever dining experiences goes to Attica, and especially the 10-odd courses of snacks served at the start that they encourage you to eat with your hands. So it’s really no surprised that I’m all over Auterra Wine Bar, which has a menu of nothing but nibbles, the majority of which comes with zero cutlery. Apparently their wine list is also stellar, but I’ll admit to knowing nothing about that. I will however warn that for those looking for more than a light meal, you’re likely to leave a bit peckish, unless you’re ready to order three of the Peking Duck Hotdogs (no huge hardship). Still, it’s a great experience, and it is very much a treat to be able to go into a restaurant, and order one of everything, and have it all be delicious.
Rating: 14.5/20 – feeling snacky.
No, really: you can actually get one of everything; their set menu is called f**k it, we’re all in.
The Raw Scallop ($9ea) is the gentlest kiss from the ocean, floating in a warm broth of tomato and brown butter that brings out the sweetness of the shellfish.
The Buckwheat Tart ($12, 2pcs) is as pretty as a fancy chocolate praline, except it tasted even better. Advised to put the whole thing in our mouths, the brittle shell broke apart into a rich pumpkin cream, the sugary notes balanced out by decadent chips of bitter cocoa (see, the chocolate analogy wasn’t far-fetched at all!)
Cured Snapper ($12, 2pcs) hits the raw seafood spot, the firm fish enriched with dollops of labneh. The burnt citrus dressing added an interesting freshness that sets it apart from the usual lemon and lime.
If you love prawn toast at yum cha, you’ll love the Crab Toast ($17, 2pcs), gussied up with brioche, toragashi, and a smoky capsicum sauce.
All I’ll say is that I wish we got two of the Pickled Ox Tongue ($10ea). Lightly charred, this completely melted in the mouth, and the pungent addition of sambal really made it sing.
The Doughnut ($10, 2pcs), stuffed with confit duck leg, was a mouthful of dopamine. It’s sweet, salty, fatty, and buttery, cut through by a startlingly bitter blood lime sauce.
Can you go wrong with a Stuffed BBQ Chicken Wing ($9)? The answer is absolutely not, especially when it’s filled with chorizo, and topped with sweet caramelised onion. The smoky, fatty edges of the chicken wing were especially delectable.
The Peking Duck Hot Dog ($16ea) tastes like its eponymous pancake, no joke. They’ve even remembered the cucumbers and scallions, and the sweet, squishy bun is an extra plus.
Towards the heaviest end of the menu is the Savoury Éclair ($14), the cheesy choux pastry buried in a flurry of Comte with a scattering of crackled pepper. It’s like a little portable cacio e pepe, and it’s the quality ingredients that makes it shine.
I practically dared myself to order the Shiitake Mushroom Soft Serve ($9) – I was that not into it. But miraculously (or maybe unsurprisingly, given the track record so far), this was a knockout. The ice cream is without a doubt flavoured with shiitake, but the earthy flavour, combined with the sticky madeira syrup, brings to mind a rich miso caramel. Bravo.
I was a big fan of the Auterra #7 ($14), a non-alcoholic of blueberry, maple, and black pepper, blended smartly to recreate the complexity of a deep red wine.