Let down on the lake

Name: Watersedge
Address: Commonwealth Place, 40 Parkes Place, Parkes
Ph: 02 6273 5066
Web: http://www.courgette.com.au/
Owner: James Mussillon
Hours: Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday — Dinner: Tuesday to Sunday

It is always interesting to compare different restaurants from the same group. At best, they show a different take on the mind and tastes of the person at the top. This is shown with the Press Club and Hellenic Republic, or the various restaurant’s under Shannon Bennett. Other times they take basically the same style of food, gives one place nicer glasses and then ups the price.

On my second excursion into the Mussillon empire it was clear that he sits more in the second group.

Last year Watersedge was judged one of the best restaurants in Canberra by both the Good Food Guide and Gourmet Traveler. While it was an improvement on my greatly disappointing meal at Sabayon, it was not up to the standard I expect from restaurants in either of those publications.

The restaurant really is beautifully positioned, with a view across Walter’s lake to the floodlit War Memorial, and the décor does not distract from this.

What does distract is that you begin the meal with the same dull, fluffy bread rolls as Sabayon. This is a restaurant only a few blocks away from Silo. Is it really that difficult to find a decent slice of bread?

For entrée I had scallops boudin and scallop ceviche, with a fennel and squid salad and Anise dressing. I adore fennel and anise at the moment, and have craved it much of the year, but in this case it lacked balance. With large pieces of the very soft boudin, you did get the sweet scallop flavour, but mostly it was just anise. You wouldn’t have known that there was squid in the salad, either.

The brightest spot of the meal was the main course, which was good enough to sit on a hatted menu. This blue eye cod was a raging success of a dish. Moist and sweet, it sat on tangy eggplant and lemon puree. The real hero of this, however, were the little discs of roast artichoke. Sweet and a little nutty, they added an expected element to the dish. There were some vongole were unnecessary, and there was no flavour in a horseradish foam, but these could be excused by the artichoke.

Next came a small sorbet. Now, if you are going to do a palate cleanser, it is pretty important to make sure that it actually cleanses the palate. As nice as the mandarin and fennel sorbet was, the aniseed flavour left such a strong aftertaste that, without lots of water, it would overpower any dessert.

One of the secrets to desserts is that, regardless of how complicated the dish is, there must be simplicity and focus in the concept. That is not what happened here. Reading the menu, every dish felt like they had one ingredient too many.

My dessert was a Crème caramel, with a white chocolate financier, confit lemon and Lemon sorbet. These came as three separate dishes on the one plate, with no real connection. Two of them could be combined to quite a nice dessert, if you placed the sharp confit and sorbet together with the rich cakiness of the financier, but the crème caramel added nothing. It should be a rich, creamy custard, just firm enough to wobble on the plate but smooth as silk in your mouth. This was a little more than a bland, opaque jelly. A vast disappointment.

The other desserts that my table ordered were similar. A strawberry parfait had no real flavour of strawberry. A pear frangipane tart smelled wonderful, but didn’t deliver, and was served with some unnecessary poached quince. Just a lack of focus.

The wine list was uninspired, but we had a serviceable chardonnay from Margaret River. It would have been nice to have a few more options, particularly of local wines.

When it comes to service, there is a line between being friendly and being excessive. I have no problem with waiters asking how you enjoyed the meal. However, when they start questioning the sincerity of your answer it is taking banter too far. The pacing of the meal was alright, though.

Overall, I was underwhelmed by Watersedge. When a restaurant is given accolades, I expect a certain standard. Most of the meal here didn’t live up to that.

It really doesn’t enthuse me for Courgette.

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About freehugstommy

Food, films and politics are my triumvirate of passions.
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