Mister Jennings, Richmond

                 Mister Jennings was conceptualised by Ryan – a solo venture after departing from a Melbourne favourite, Estelle Bar & Kitchen. It is a small space, although not cramped, highlighted by the plentiful natural lighting flowing in. While “tasting menus” typically bring up concoctions of tiny portions and exorbitant prices, Mister Jennings is one of the few restaurants changing the game and bringing affordable tastings of the chef’s top picks.

With the days warming up, even intermittently so, an icy cold beverage in the form of lemon, lime and bitters was appropriately ordered.

Lemon, lime and bitters
Seeing as the tasting menu would showcase the chef’s hottest dishes, we happily went along with it. I’m not embarrassed to admit that one of my highlights of visiting Sydney back in the day, was finding a tiny Korean take away shop which sold deep fried snacks and I revelled in ordering a dagwood dog on every trip. In comparison to the doughy crispiness and processed meat typical of any dagwood dog, this was a lighter play on the American classic. A springy white chicken sausage a la “boudin blanc” served with a tomato chutney.
Boudin blanc (dagwood dog)

Ryan’s deft touch ensures that the crab meat is wonderfully highlighted by the tomato puree and a tingle of heat from the peppers.

Crab, salmorejo, chilli, black peppers

Considering that the next dish was deemed by many diners as Mister Jenning’s signature dish, we requested for it to be a part of our tasting menu. What resulted was a fanfare/celebration of textures and flavours – the frozen slivers of kangaroo literally melting in the mouth while the crunchy pear and dehydrated raspberry conjugated together to balance it all out. All the elements worked cleverly together, although, we did note that the kick of wasabi was missed.

Frozen Kangaroo, wasabi, leaves

The notion of head cheese left us bewildered; though we later find out that it is a process of cooking down the pig’s head until completely tender and then the meat is stuffed into a sausage casing. The unctuous and gelatinous morsels of meat are fried until a crisp and complemented with fermented Brussels sprouts. Too good.

Head cheese and fermented Brussels sprouts

The final savoury dish is usually either a fish or steak dish and I’m so glad when we are presented with the sirloin steak seeing as I was in a red meat kind of mood. The meat was pink and caramelised outside; cooked until medium-rare which suited us perfectly. With a selection of mustards to choose from, the meat was incredibly flavoursome and sliced with little resistance.

I must also mention that we also had a side of hand cut fries and a garden salad – surprisingly the salad stole the show with its simple yet tantalising dressing and crispy freshness.

350 grams Sirloin, pan juices, chips and salad

The sole dessert course brings back memories of The Estelle Bar & Kitchen, with the incredibly—  light and fluffy sponge cake. This one is made with a unrefined sugar made from cane sugar – more commonly used in India, Asia & Africa; and complemented well with the combination of thick apricot jam and double cream.

Jaggery cake, apricots, double cream

As a sweet finale, guests are presented with mini yoyos – as luck would have it, the kitchen no longer had any mini sized ones so we ended up with full sized yoyos. The texture was crumbly and delicate to touch with a buttery, melting finish in the mouth. They would be amazing with a cup of tea or coffee.

Yoyo biscuits

With the notable absence of the stiffness at many fine dining establishments in Melbourne, we enjoyed a playful and thought-out meal at Mister Jennings. The staff are quick to be at our service and were ever helpful with recommendations. Although, I am more than likely to return for the a la carte menu, next time I’ll be seeking out better parking as Mr A ended leaving halfway through to re-park the car due to the time limit.

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