My husband and I extensively researched the restaurant we wanted to go to for our date night. We chose Ash because the premise and menu looked amazing and the credentials of the chef owner were impressive.
We arrived to a stylishly designed open kitchen which I liked but it was over lit (in a slightly florescent light) and cold. Our waitress was immediately accommodating and turned on the heaters and it did not take long to warm up.
Out waitress was knowledgable and adept at judging how much interaction to have with us. She explained the concept and recommended her favourite dishes. We went with her specials recommendation for appetisers and was not disappointed. Wow. We had charred leeks with burnt butter and hazelnuts and fried mussels with tom yum cream. Both were absolute knock outs and if we weren't in public we would have licked the plates. We were very excited about the rest of our meal... but sadly the elevated food experience ended there.
My husband chose the Impala, which has a layering of flavour that was outstanding but the meat itself was a bit mealy. I chose the lamb (which to be fair was not one of the waitresses recommendations), The lamb was so chewy it was hard to cut It sat on the plate without any sear, looking pale and flaccid on a sauce of overly sweet caponata that was one note and completely bland. I had to constantly season to elicit any flavour but there was absolutely no complexity or sophistication at all. The whole dish spoke nothing of the char or smoke promised by the concept of the coals or the earthy flavours suggested in the menu. When asked how the meal was (not by our waitress) I told them it was too sweet and not a patch on the starters to which the man simply smiled and left.
As desert fans we were looking forward to the kind of layered interesting desserts we had seen online but the menu was simply chocolate tart, lime tart or miso banana (which admittedly did sound good). We like to order different things to try each other's, so my husband ordered the miso banana and I checked that the lime tart was not too sweet as I don't like a citrus dessert being too saccharine. I was assured it was really bright and zesty. My husband's dish was interesting although not as elevated or exciting as it sounded. Mine was simply awful. The lime was undetectable above the level of sugar, it was more like a very sweet custard tart, the base was so soggy and undercooked it stuck to the plate and it looked and tasted like it was from a supermarket. I tried two small bites and decided it wasn't worth eating despite my sweet tooth and passion for deserts.
Our waitress eventually asked if the desert was too sweet and I gave an honest review. She empathised that I was looking for a sweet sharp balance that packed a punch and told me that when she tried it a long time ago it was that but that desserts change. There was no suggestion of taking it off the bill or offering compensatory coffee even though it was nothing like either she or the menu promised it would be.
Throughout our dinner, our evening soured slightly with the disappointment of the food so we begin to become notice other things about the restaurant. The 80's/90's music seemed completely out of place with the modern urban design, the cigarette smoke from people smoking right outside the door blew right into our area as we were eating, the maitre D looked pissed off and bored all night and when we began to watch the open kitchen, we realised that the kitchen staff looked disengaged and low spirited - it was actually a downer watching them as they looked thoroughly miserable. Apart from our waitress, who for the most part we enjoyed, there was absolutely no energy or excitement from the staff or chefs that enhanced the experience.
We were so looking forward to this foodie experience and we left thoroughly underwhelmed (apart from those exquisite starters) and let down by the promise of something outstanding.
Please up your game as the concept, ideas and experience should amount to something much better than what we got.
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