Beirut & Madame George @ Auckland

August 20, 2016

Beirut brings a contemporary elegance to Middle Eastern cuisine, imbuing what look like avant-garde creations with everything from sujuk to sumac - start with the scallops, complemented by cured pork jowl, pickled green walnuts, chamomile & macadamia water, then check out the spiced duck with red cabbage, rhubarb & a duck egg yolk flavoured with coffee & cacao, before finishing with a lovely pashmak, a Persian saffron candy floss served here with clotted cream, seeds, dried fruits & apricot tea. Cocktails are also unconventional - try the beetroot shrub drinking vinegar concoction blended with Absolut Vodka, or the hay-&-burnt-butter-infused apple brandy with Angostura bitters & smoked salt.

 Madame George puts its own spin on Asian cooking - hoisin-marinated pork with house-pickled cabbage on fried roti shares the menu with a pairing of butterfly pea-dyed coconut milk rice & laksa paste prawns; the muted flavours & not-quite-there textures won't necessarily impress those of us who live in Malaysia. Cocktails continue the theme - the Caesar-san comprises clamato juice with soy, wasabi & pickled bean.