Monday, 2 July 2012

The destination of Deliciousness

A new craze has hit the Casino promenade with an all American hub "The Merrywell". Welcoming into Melbourne, American chefs GMAC and Sammy D who by themselves are renowned for there talents back home and are willing to share with us true American cuisine at its best.

Sammy D or otherwise known as Sam DeMarco has over 30 years in the culinary world and developed into the leader of Modern American cuisine. With opening the doors of his first restaurant in 1994, he has since taken on numerous establishments with SammyD's in Atlantic city being known as "a retro coffee shop, serving up nostalgic East coast favourites".

GMAC or officially Grant MacPherson has made his name serving prestigious celebrities such as George Bush, Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela just to name a few. In 1992 GMAC was a gold medalist in the culinary Olympics and with his vast experience lead him to opening and overseeing more than 50 establishments.

The Merrywell has a luxurious lounge feel upstairs with a great look out of the city. Its low lite room, with lounges, communal tables and bar seating truly makes a good retreat for your social evenings. Grab a beer or cocktail and unwind with friends over some shared or bar dishes or perhaps go for something more substantial dependant on what your night has ahead. A fire place in the lounge area and upbeat music overhead being played by a DJ made a great Saturday night out especially over the winter months.

A diverse crowd is seen here with a younger gathering coming from the promenade and the rest high rollers or money riskers from the casino, but they all mould into the atmosphere. With no bookings being taken unless you are a group over 8 there was constant movement and at times delays in the kitchen and bar with the back log of orders flying through.

For us cocktails were the potion of the evening, going for some different mixtures such as there "Tall Poppy", a rhubarb hinted aperol, citron vodka, vanilla lime and cherries topped with bubbles was very refreshing and a great starter for my evening. We also went for the "Spice Trade", a combination of rum, ginger liquor, green cardamon, kaffir lime, lime juice and spiced honey. It's a fairly tart combination but if you love limes and spice this will knock your socks off.

With cocktails in hand and sprawled out on our lounge with the city lights in the horizon and fire place beside us we decided to gluttonise ourselves with some shared dishes, allowing us venture into the American cuisine.

Now I'm a lover of chips and gravy, it's one of my weaknesses when it comes to fatty food feasting. So there was nothing better to order than the Poutine chips. This serving of golden fries is doused in a peppery brown gravy and cheese curd. The dish originated from what I have read in Quebec and has been developed in Canada across national and international chains in the small what they call "greasy spoon" locations. It's prepared in a specific manner of pouring the hot gravy over the cheese curd, to warm but not completely melt the cheese and to keep the chips crunchy and not soggy. This dish was truly jam packed with flavour and more peppery than expected, of which I'm not too sure on whether it was caused buy the hints of rocket leaves or added pepper into the rich brown gravy. Either way it made my taste buds sing and I almost couldn't stop myself from eating them all.

A serve of jalapeño poppers and fish tacos were next to come. The poppers were filled with a luscious creamy filling and still had just a little bit of that powerful jalapeño kick, but safe also for those whimps. The hit is just at the tip near the stalk so it's until you reach there where you get that pop of heat. Served with a dipping sauce that was similar in ranch sauce but with an extra tang, won the heart of Paul and it was not long before these poppers were devoured by either of us. Unfortunately though the fish tacos were a little bit disappointing. The grilled fish although perfectly cooked was lost under the large amount of lettuce, cubed tomato and cheese. With the spray of fresh lime juice we found that it really didn't highlight any specific flavours and the fish got lost. Although Paul's adventurous additive of the sauce from the jalapeño poppers actually gave it a little bit more tartness to the dish which seemed to of enhanced the overall dish. We both felt that there could have been a little bit more fish to the soft taco or a little bit more umph in flavour and it would have been better.

The salmon tartar cones is something new to taste. Waffle cones with hints of chives are filled with a cured salmon and coated with a creamy light creme fraiche, topped with salmon roe and "sprinkles" which were papita seeds and chives, it was very mellow in flavours. Textually the dish was enjoyable but very creamy, just like your eating an ice cream, which also made it slightly bizarre as it was somewhat daunting as to how to eat it. Do you break up the cone in 1/2 and spread the salmon evenly over the cone or do you just bite down? Either way you choose this dish is not over powering in salmon flavours and I would have liked just a touch less creme fraiche, I did like the fresh salmon roe that sat ontop of the cones and the touch of papitas.

The final touches of our dishes were the mini burgers and the lobster rolls. From reading the reviews the mini burgers have clearly been a popular choice, and there are good reasons. A sweet soft bun filled with melted cheese and juicy char grilled burgers they are what any BBQ lover wants. The smokey flame charred meat is quite strong on flavour and smell but very enjoyable, truly an American style which you would expect nothing less.

I was blown away with the lobster rolls and were my favourite of the night. So succulent and sweet, the lobster delicately overlaid in a cream sauce and stuffed into a soft sweet white roll, there is nothing you could compare too. The rolls are overloaded with lobster meat and served with perfectly hand made crisps. I would love to indulge in more of these if I had a chance, or perhaps be on the list for my last supper.

Looking over Sammy D's menu at SammyD's it seems that he has bought us some of his luscious dishes to us such as these lobster rolls, of which I am greatful. It shows that this venue is truly showing us true American cuisine and nothing that is being false. Other dishes that looks like he has bought wi him are the lolly pop buffalo wings with blue cheese and of course the famous American mac and cheese.

If your after dessert, enjoy it served in a jar or go the sampler shot glasses with a taste of all desserts. It's a great ender to your evening, and if you love chocolate I recommend the chocolate mousse, so velvety and board line of a chocolate ganache. For something a little less intense the rice pudding or mango pudding are just as amazing.

We had a great evening and will be taking the journey back to get a taste of the main meals to see what there all about, and maybe we'll throw in some of those lobster rolls too. For a night with upbeat music and a great social gathering point, who could refuse to check it out.

The Merrywell
Claredon st & Crown Riverside
Southbank, VIC
The Merrywell on Urbanspoon

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