1 Campbell Street, Merrijig, Australia
Good but not special Mod Oz food with mediocre service Jan 31, 2016
S38°23.299' E142°14.409' Merrijig (pronounced Merry-jig) is the premier restaurant for serious dining in Port Fairy. It is a Lonely Planet must-visit recommendation. Expectations for a great dining experience were high. The building and its interior is old and emphasises heritage and tradition. Remarkably not very "restaurant" pop music came from the ceiling speakers.
Luckily, an experienced waiter was on hand to find the right bottle Hearts Wines from Alpine Valley VIC. It is a blended white wine of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Fiano and Gewürztraminer for AUS$50. The wine had a woody character and tasted excellent.
The ravioli as entrée, spiked with garlic and lemon, tossed with brown butter (AUS$18) was excellent. The same was true for the quail with Port Fairy abalone and white radish (AUS$22). Smelled good. Nice flavour and texture. Great entrées, presented well.
As main dish, the lamb shoulder with Dutch carrots and mint salad (AUS$38) was very greasy. The texture consisted of hard and soft pieces, but the taste was good. The other main dish, poached eye fillet with roast beetroots, horseradish powder and herbs (AUS$39), was tender and tasteful. Well prepared. As dessert, we ordered a plateau du fromage (AUS$24) and finish this diner with Bakery Hill single malt whiskey double wood (AUS$14). The whisky was not remarkable.
For Port Fairy, the summer season is a very busy season when tourists flood the town. Merrijig is a busy place, which needs all the help it can get: students earning their tuition fees in a few months. Here trouble for Merrijig starts, because students are extremely helpful serving in pubs but not in high-end restaurants. For every question about the choice of wine and the combination with the food, they needed the backup of a permanent staff member. In addition, the student waiters performed only their designated tasks and did not watch tables and guests. At this level of fine cuisine, students from hotel colleges are more suitable for high-end restaurants.
The modern Australian cuisine from Merrijig was good, but for the price paid not that special. Quality of service was the Achilles heal of Merrijig. Needs to be at the level of the food offered.
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