Entertainment

Aubergine

Rating: 16.5/20

  • 18 Barker Street, Griffith, 6260 8666
  • www.auberginerestaurant.com.au
  • Owners Ben Willis and Andrea Collin, chef Ben Willis
  • Open lunch Tuesday to Saturday, dinner Monday to Saturday
  • Licensed and BYO, corkage $15 a bottle
  • Wheelchair accessible
Dark chocolate ganache, fresh karakaberries and blueberries, mulberry and basil sorbet at The    Aubergine Restaurant at ...
Dark chocolate ganache, fresh karakaberries and blueberries, mulberry and basil sorbet at The Aubergine Restaurant at Griffith. Photo: Richard Briggs

What do you want out of a restaurant? If you want an up-to-date meal, excellently executed, with cool surprises in the food, Aubergine is top of the list. This is fine dining that delivers an excitement you don't always find at this end.

The menu is concise, just six entrees and six mains, and attractively presented as a choice of two or three courses ($60 or $70).

You really should go for three, since the biggest savoury action is probably in the entrees, where you get the full force of chef and owner Ben Willis's imagination, and since dessert is a thing to behold.

In the entrees, an eel parfait is deceptively white but there's nothing mild in the flavour, which is all smoky eel.

In the mains, pork loin main delivers some blood sausage you can lose yourself in, really nice, and a livery croquette alongside the loin with mustard sauce.

Corned wagyu comes on a breadboard, with unfancy white sauce, pesto and cabbage - an old-fashioned concept, nicely done.

In dessert, we enjoy the trick of expectation in liquorice custard, which is not black, like liquorice, but tan, and not strong, but mild, served with a sorbet tasting sparklingly of strawberries.

And we love the spoon of dark, bitter chocolate ganache on another plate, with blueberries and mulberries and a berry sorbet, this one with basil.In the decor, well, things are done out in shades of beige and cream.

Not hugely exciting, but a small space with bare tables, which is nice if you share my aversion for white tablecloths.

The wine list is good, with a sensible focus on the locals, and ranging widely here and in Europe by the glass as well.

Ben Willis was chef when James Mussillon owned this restaurant in the Griffith shops.

He bought the place from his boss almost two years ago and since then, he's taken it to a new level, with complexity and harmony in the food. Thoroughly recommended and our restaurant of the year.