(8 / 10)
As a surprise date night, Trent had booked us in to have a cocktail degustation at 1806 in Exhibition St. From the website the degustation is described as “5 Courses: Cocktails with accompanying food bites”.
On arrival we were met in the foyer and waited a few minutes for our table to be ready as we had arrived early for our booking. There was a great atmosphere and the place was buzzing. Our table was up on the second floor overlooking the fabulous bar and we had the best seats in the house. It was quite loud but it did get to a more enjoyable noise level later in the evening.
After a short wait and a friendly hello from our waiter for the evening we were presented with our first course – four scallops with a zesty sauce accompanied by a gin, lemon and carrot juice cocktail. The match of the food and drink and the balance of the flavours was very impressive.
When our first course was cleared our waiter asked if we were ready for our next course and we said yes. A little while later he came back to say our food was 4 minutes away. Another while later he came back to apologise and say the food would be out shortly. Eventually the food arrived – a mushroom salad beside a pumpkin and blue cheese croquette. Just the list of ingredients alone hit all the right notes and made this a star dish for us. The accompanying cocktail was an aperol and champagne mix. Once again it was a lovely cocktail by itself and a great match to the food.
The fourth course was the main dish – lamb with roasted celeriac sticks and crispy kale. The lamb was incredibly tender and seemed to be totally infused with mint. The kale was the best we’d ever had – dipped in oil and deep fried! The matched cocktail came later than our food this time. It was a fairly strong, spiced spirit mix that looked like an old fashioned and had one big ice cube with the 1806 logo embossed on it. The flavours did matchup well, but it was too strong for me and Trent ended up having to help me finish it.
Despite the small serving sizes the food was decadent and quite rich so by the time we finished our fourth course we were nicely satisfied. The fifth course was a shared plate of petit fours for dessert – a chocolate macaroon, hazelnut slice, and two other chocolate goodies. Before it came the waiter told us to look down at the bar below and enjoy the show as our final cocktail was made. The bartender had lit the mixture on fire and was elaborately pouring it between two jugs making a long river of fire. The cocktail came as a hot drink in a cocktail glass. It was made up of a range of chocolate liqueurs and was again quite strong (and again Trent helped me finish it).
We considered staying for one more drink, but in the end we decided to make the most of the 24 hour gallery opening and went for a late viewing of the Van Gogh exhibition at NGV (the final weekend).
Overall we were very impressed with the fantastic standard of the food and the cocktails. Our disappointments were the overall noise level, the long wait for our second course, and the cocktail not arriving at the same time as our fourth course. We rated it 8 stars.