Aubergine

After lunch at Sage, a few of us decided that we should work our way through the gold section of the Entertainment book. Well, it is a good excuse to go somewhere different (and expensive!) for lunch every few weeks! This time we decided on Aubergine – I have heard and read quite a few good things about it, but it was a little unclear on how good they are with the veggie choices. When booking the table, they were asked if they had vegetarian food and the answer was “of course!” When we arrived and looked at the menu, there was one entree and one main that were vegetarian. Everything else was very meat-centric and wasn’t even able to be adapted. I asked the waiter if they had a separate vegetarian menu or if it was only what was listed and he said only what was listed – which was a little disappointing. He also commented that the kitchen could make up something else if I told them what I wanted, but I hate doing that – I would rather that the chefs put some thought into it and put creative vegetarian meals on the menu!

When deciding what to order, my friend and I always check out the dessert menu to see if we want dessert before deciding on entrees and mains. Amazingly, nothing on the dessert menu appealed to me – there was always at least one ingredient listed that I don’t particularly like. So, I decided on trying the only veggie entree and main while my friend went for entree and dessert! Not really an unusual occurrence for us! Before even getting our entrees we received canapes – salmon and tomato salsa-y thing on a cucumber jelly. The waiter looked a little concerned when he brought them out, and once I found out what it was, I said that I would pass. My friend, however, didn’t want to eat alone, and asked him if they could do a vegetarian version. Which they duly did, by making one without the salmon – on the jelly, which probably contained gelatine. Since they went to the effort, I ate it anyway! My entree was a caramelised tomato tart which came with all sorts of yummy sounding garnishes etc. And it was divine! After our entrees we got a palate cleanser – peach and blood orange sorbet – which was also pretty nice. For my main, I had the green vegetable risotto – when ordering I checked to see whether or not it contained peas – I simply could not face the thought of a (mainly) pea risotto and having that taste all through it – I would have had a dessert instead! The chefs were kind enough to leave out the sugar snap peas on my request. (I know that they are different to normal green peas – but some days it is just anything of that variety!). The risotto was pretty good. It came in a lovely cylinder shape with a parmesan crusty thing on the top and bottom – which was a very nice touch. It was creamy and lovely and the veggies were nice and fresh.

My friend opted for dessert instead of a main, and went with the blood orange and bitter chocolate souffle – which was an amazing thing to behold. It came in a teacup, but it was at least twice the height of the cup, and the chefs recommendation was to cut a hole in the top of the souffle and pour in the chocolate sauce. My friend was in culinary heaven! I am not a huge fan of the canape and palate cleanser idea – the palate cleansers are usually sorbet, but the canapes are more often than not seafood or meat. I was also disappointed that given the answer “of course” when asked if they had vegetarian options when booking, that there was only one entree and one main on the menu and that virtually nothing else was adaptable. I am not sure if that justifies the “of course” answer to the question! Personally, I don’t think I would bother going back – I like a little more choice. My other thought, was that everything was almost over flavoured, over garnished and over defined – and the more things you put into a dish, the more chance there is that someone won’t like something in it, and would therefore find the choice rather limited. But, if you like meat and seafood, and are into the canapes and palate cleansers thing, then you should check it out!