The Sharing House held an event, in collaboration with West Winds Gin, to celebrate head chef Mark Briggs’ Young Chef of the Year win at The Age 2013 awards. I was lucky enough to win tickets to the event and I’m so glad I did, as this was the best introduction possible to The Sharing House.
The Sharing House opened earlier in the year on South Wharf, near the Hilton and DFO, overlooking the Yarra. South Wharf isn’t an area of Melbourne that I get to very much and it’s still finding its feet, but the allure of warmer weather will bring people out of hibernation to lounge outside on the promenade with a cold drink and great food.
The restaurant channels a casual industrial vibe, with high exposed ceilings and perfectly fits the style of the restored cargo sheds where the restaurant is situated. A simple white colour scheme is brought to life by bright primary colours, with lego-style decoration around the bar and kitchen. Huge open windows are designed for warm nights and being able to make the most of being beside the river.
The evening was a riot, a beautiful combination of perfectly executed and balanced food, a short hop around Europe with the matched wines and a blast of energy from West Winds Gin. West Winds Gin produce two award-winning gins in Australia using water from Margaret River. Sabre is a more traditional British-style gin with that classic citrus note and the addition of wattle seed to add a smoothness. Cutlass is a contemporary gin with bush tomato and more coriander seed to make a more savoury, aromatic spirit. The Cutlass was definitely my favourite, which was lucky as each table was given a bottle with a variety of mixers (tomato, capsicum, snow pea and celery) to make our unique twists on the classic G&T. Not only was the gin amazing but the two guys from West Winds Gin brought such passion and enthusiasm that added so much to the whole evening.
We were given a vibrant citrus-based gin cocktail on arrival and a chance to explore the surroundings while enjoying canapes (crab and avocado cones, carrot marshmellow, cheese croquettes- which were amazing!). The first course was Chatham Island blue cod, cured in West Winds gin, served with textures of melon. The blue cod had a lovely texture, not completely melt-in-your-mouth like many fish, but it had substance and depth to it which added so much to the dish.
This was followed by a terrine of partridge, which had a balance of smoother textured meat with generous pieces of partridge to deliver a play on textures. The merlot vinegar was reduced to a a glorious stickiness with an acidity that married with the rich terrine.
The main event was a slow-cooked wagyu short rib, flaking with a gentle nudge of the knife and with a rich buttery flavour, complimented by the earthy truffle jus, and the braised celery adding that clean note through the dish.
A gin and tonic sorbet (as if it could have been anything else!) led into the dessert, a Violet and Honeycomb crumble. A rope of rich dark chocolate ganache, chunks of crispy honeycomb, with a subtle vanilla cream and studded with various textures of chocolate. It was a dish that would please those die-hard chocoholics, but also with a lightness of touch that didn’t overpower the meal.
It was a great night out, and the generosity of The Sharing House and West Winds Gin was fantastic. Mark Briggs makes the most of each ingredient and executes the dishes perfectly. There may have been a bit of a sore head in the morning, but it was more than worth it to find out that tomato does indeed go well with a Gin and Tonic!