Sherman's Food Adventures: Agrius (Dinner)

Agrius (Dinner)

Okay, how many times have I repeated a restaurant while on the same vacay?  If you answered none, I think someone has been reading this blog with a fine-tooth comb.  Generally, I like to try as many individual restaurants as possible since we never know when we will be returning to a certain destination.  However, this time around, I had to revisit Agrius to try their dinner service for 2 reasons.  First, the brunch was good, so I was impressed to begin with.  Second, they are more known for their dinner, so to be fair, I just had to come back!

To start the meal, we went for the small size of their Charcuterie served with pickles and fresh bread from their bakery, Fol Epi.  From left to right, we had Coppa, Red Wine Salami, Fiocco and Ardéche.  Solid board of meats with fatty coppa and mild red wine salami.  The fiocco was packed with flavour that was gamy and mildly salty.  These all went well with the pickled green beans, daikon and intensely sweet and tangy celery.  Bread was crusty and nutty served with butter and fleur de sel.  Next, the Pork Skin Croquettes were small, but were amazing texturally with a thin crispy exterior.  Inside, the tender potatoes and fattiness of the pork skin created a rich full-bodied filling.  Underneath, the creamy aromatic aioli merely made the dish even more decadent.

We were advised to try the Salt Baked Celeriac and it turned out to be a good veggie dish.  Thickly sliced and cooked just right, the celeriac was tender to the teeth, but still had a firm starchiness to it.  It was full-flavoured due to the salt, but it was far from being salty though.  Underneath, we found jullienned leeks tossed in a fermented leek vinaigrette.  The whole dish was sprinkled with crunchy hazelnuts.  I felt the vinaigrette was necessary to brighten and liven up the dish.  Beyond the crunch from the hazelnuts, there was a toasted nutty addition to the flavour profile.   Another veggie forward item was the Brown Butter Rutabaga topped with duck prosciutto, raddichio and flavoured with herring bagna cauda.  One bite and there was layer upon layer of tastes including briny saltiness, nuttiness, more saltiness from the duck and finally some sweet bitterness from the raddichio.  Similar to the celeriac, the rutabaga road the fine line between soft and firm.

Partly because I love them and I also want the kids to try them, I ordered the Veal Sweetbreads with mushrooms, lemon and puff pastry.  This was very good with buttery tender sweetbreads which were bathed in an earthy mix of mushrooms including morels with plenty of lemon.  Hence, the dish looked rather heavy (buttery), but ate much lighter due to the ample acidity.  Lots of flavour going on and although there wasn't any contrasting textures, it ate well nonetheless.  Yes, the kids tried the sweetbreads and were a bit indifferent, yet they weren't opposed to eating it again.  Now they really loved the Braised Short Ribs with whipped potato, Swiss chard and red wine reduction.  The short rib couldn't have been braised any better as it took on all of the flavours of the liquid (that penetrated throughout).  It was tender and meaty with the unmistakable richness of short rib.  Underneath, the buttery potatoes helped soak up any remaining sauce.

My favourite dish was the Salmon Wrapped in Cabbage as it was executed flawlessly.  Look at it, the cook on it couldn't be any better.  The fish was rare, buttery and super soft.  Naturally sweet, yet also seasoned enough, the salmon was delicious on its own.  Thinly wrapped in Napa cabbage, the salmon was uniformly textured as the exterior was not exposed.  If this wasn't tasty enough, a buttery bearnaise complimented the delicate fish.  Something familiar in the sauerkraut pancake was an interesting compliment as it tied in the cabbage theme, but with some tang.  To up that quotient, there was more pickled cabbage underneath.  Another delicious offering was the Fried Chicken with fermented lettuce relish and house-made ranch underneath.  Tender and juicy, the chicken thigh was adequately seasoned, but the buckwheat batter was nutty and full-flavoured.  To cool it all down, the yogurt-based ranch sported plenty of dill.  I found the lettuce relish rather interesting in texture (a bit wet), but appealingly tangy.  So this visit combined with our initial brunch confirmed that Agrius is indeed one of the best places to eat in Victoria.  Maybe we need to make a visit to Fol Epi too...

The Good:
- On point proteins
- Unique flavours
- Good use of root veggies

The Bad:
- Portions are modest, so ordering lots can add up

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