74 Glen Eira Rd
Ripponlea, VIC 3185
03 9530 0111
Carolyn loved the marron. Fakegf loved the stock. And I loved everything in front of me. I mean… mussel and prosciutto stock… wow! And see how the iridescent nature of our plates caught the blue evening light from the windows? It created the effect of a still sea at dusk. Eating this gave me a sense of myth and fable, a freshness with nature, and a respect towards what’s growing around us. How often does eating food take you to such a place?
On a lighter note, I was also trying to imagine chefs in Singapore attempting to forage. Oh dear, what a funny image… dispirited chefs bashing through our tropical jungle reserves, assailed by mozzies, millipedes and ants, and then getting entangled by the dastardly clingy belukar plants.
I thought it was an interesting tasting plate of things that we, as residents in Australia by choice, really ought to be familiar with. And I feel humbled that aside for wattleseeds and eucalypts, there is so much more about Australian fruit that I don’t recognise.
Even though I have done absolutely zero research on this restaurant or its chef, by the end of this meal, I could sense Ben Shewry’s mindful approach towards food. I don’t think he cooks to impress. Instead, I think he puts together dishes that’s inspired by nature, landscapes and what’s around us, such that there’s an almost palpable soul found within each dish. It’s cuisine that isn’t hollow. It’s cuisine with meaning and emotion. A style of food that resonates nicely with me. During this meal, it felt like we’ve been taken to places that’s beyond the physicality of taste buds and gut space.
Out of the blue, our waiter curiously handed us a card. It’s a depiction of the New Zealand Pukeko, painted by Ben’s father. It’s a connection to Ben’s memory of his home in New Zealand, where the Pukeko, a “confident, inquisitive and vociferous bird”, can be seen plowing the swamplands. A few minutes later, a nest of edible Pukeko eggs was placed on our table. So as diners, we walk out with a taste of where it all began, in the form of a Pukeko’s egg, from Ben Shewry’s home.