As a foodie who was once a stingy Uni student, Ananas has always been just out of my reach. It falls into the fine dining category for me, with their champagne brunches and classy locale, and I never found the right occasion to justify splurging, even though I’m no longer at Uni.
But when Good Food Month calls, you answer, and this was the perfect excuse: an invite to an Art Meets French set dinner, where large artworks get exhibited on huge easels, for you to enjoy right next to the artwork on the plate in front of you.
Carpaccio of Freemantle Octopus, Chorizo
Salad of Baby Beetroot, Goat Cheese Crumble, Beetroot Vinaigrette
Pan-seared Salmon, Fresh Pea and Spec Ragout
Long Vale Duck Breast, Confit Rhubarb, Pastille
Pan Seared Loin of Lamb, with Herb Crust and Cauliflower Purée
Classic Apple Tart Tartin, Cinnamon Ice Cream
I wasn’t joking when I said that its artwork on a plate – Ananas served up a beautiful array of dishes full of vibrancy and colour, carefully arranged to convey a certain aesthetic.
The Carpaccio of Freemantle Octopus with Chorizo started off the evening: octopus tentacles of varying thickness gets rolled into a log and sliced thinly to create a bubble-like motif, and dressed lightly with a lightly tangy salsa to show you just how far off the mark your average supermarket tub of marinated octopus is. The circle falls apart into tender pieces, and really whets your appetite for more.
The Salad of Baby Beetroot, Goat Cheese Crumble, Beetroot Vinaigrette arrives next; the elements deliberately placed to resemble a sprouting garden (maybe intentionally, maybe not, but artwork is all about the appreciation, right?). The more subtle golden beets mingle with the heartier purple beets, and the goats cheese gives a light creaminess that act as a base for the salad.
We then move on to the Pan-seared Salmon, Fresh Pea and Spec Ragout. My favourite of the lot – with silky salmon paired with a very light broth, keeping in with the airy and light theme so far. Not quite sure about any pan-searing, though.
Not that I can see or taste anyway.
The next course gets heavier with the Long Vale Duck Breast, Confit Rhubarb, Pastille. I must admit, I had to do a bit of a google on what a Pastille actually is – thank goodness for modern technology. Apparently it refers to that cigar of herbs and pastry that accompanied the sliver of medium rare duck breast. The tender rhubarb added a touch of fruitiness to cut through the richness, and while it wasn’t as lovely to me as the salmon (if food types were children, salmon would be the golden child), the plate was executed very sophisticatedly, maintaining a delicate balance of decadence and restraint.
For me, this is where it started going downhill. The Pan Seared Loin of Lamb, with Herb Crust and Cauliflower Purée sat in a bit of a meh category to me – the lamb ,personally, was under seasoned and on the lean side of things (clearly I’ve been spoilt by years of chomping down on unctuous lamb ribs and shoulders), and while I thoroughly enjoyed the cauliflower purée, there wasn’t enough of it to tip the scales when the lamb wasn’t performing as I wanted it to.
And so we come to dessert: a Classic Apple Tart Tartin, Cinnamon Ice Cream. The pastry, while flaky, didn’t have the luscious soaked-in-caramel indulgence that I’ve come to love, and the cinnamon ice cream tasted more like plain vanilla when paired with the tart. It was very exquisitely presented, though, but for me this tart just wasn’t as hedonistically enjoyable as one that I had from La Grande Bouffe.
As with all fine dining establishments that I’ve been to (save for one, but you always need an exception), the service was absolutely impeccable. Invisible waiters made sure that our drinks were topped up all night, and miraculously appeared right when I lifted my gaze for a little assistance.
They’re magicians, I swear.
There was also a hiccup with the booking, but they handled it all very graciously, and even though they didn’t actually have a table set for me, a space appeared and was set with a pristine white tablecloth and all the cutlery I would be needing that evening. They treated me with respect every step of the way, and I felt extremely accommodated.
Value for money:
Sure, the some of the food may not have been to my taste, but all of it was clearly laboured over. Couple that with the service and location, I think that it’s worth the above-average price tag for a special occasion.
Go ahead, treat yo self.
I think the most appropriate word to describe Ananas (besides pineapple, teehee!) is ‘grace’. They are lovely, polite people, and the only times I felt a bit out of place and (dare I say) looked down upon was from the other guests. And they can’t help that.
The decor is elegant without being stiff, and the little dining alcoves that they’ve carved out make the whole experience very intimate. Great for a first date, or a second, or the 459th! Dining at Ananas feels like a treat in more ways than one, and it’s definitely much more than your spontaneous weeknight too-lazy-to-cook eatery. No, dining at Ananas requires planning, dreaming, and possibly some saving.
The thing about fine dining is that you’re paying for a cohesive dining experience. Each element alone can only take you so far of the rest are not quite in the same league. In this case, the amazing service outshone the food, but – and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this – the food was good enough to pull through. Every part of your experience is planned and deliberate, and for that, I think it’s worth the price tag. Go there to celebrate, go there to impress, whatever it is, find a reason to experience it just once. It’s definitely more affordable than the super high end dining in Sydney, and way more relaxed and enjoyable, in my opinion.
Oh and while you’re there, please do get the deliciously fresh pineapple juice. You are in Ananas, after all.