Caviar dreams, opulent ingredient now a popular menu item

Once associated with the realm of stiff restaurants and starchy waiters, caviar has now been rebooted in restaurants across the country after first landing at Mimi’s in Coogee two years ago.

Mimi’s has set the trend on caviar bumps to restaurant menus.Credit:Louis Douvis

Merivale executive chef Jordan Toft can lay claim to starting the trend, introducing a twist on serving caviar to the Sydney dining scene where a portion or ‘bump’ of caviar is placed on the back of a diner’s hand and consumed after having a shot of vodka.

Now caviar ‘bumps’ are being featured on menus across the country.

“You never know if anything is going to take off, especially to the degree that it has, making it’s way around to other restaurants and becoming ‘a thing’ – no way could I have anticipated that,” Toft tells The Sun-Herald.

The petite and pricey appetizer is an experience like no other and not seen in an Australian restaurant until Merivale opened its doors to their Eastern suburbs crown jewel at the start of 2020, after six years in the making.

Anthea Preketes and Izzy Brooker enjoy an oppulant afternoon at Mimi’s enjoying caviar bumps and vodka shots.Credit:Louis Douvis

There’s no disputing Toft and the Merivale team have put the delicacy front and centre on the Australian Hospitality and dining scene, in the last two years between lockdowns and border closures the rise of caviar bumps have been an unexpected item popping up on À La Carte and tasting menus in restaurants around the country.

Jordan Toft infroduced caviar bumps to Mimi’s which opened it’s doors in 2020 after six-years in the making.Credit:Edwina Pickles

Among the restaurants to embrace caviar are Scott Pickett and the team at Chancery Lane in Melbourne’s CBD which has caviar bumps on the menu and South Yarra French brasserie Entrecote which has introduced a roving caviar cart and vodka shots. The much-hyped Gimlet restaurant, helmed by chef and restauranteur Andrew McConnell, offers a $190 caviar service, serving the black pearl delicacy in antique silverware.

Caviar bumps can also be found at SK Steak & Oyster in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley and at arkhé, the Adelaide restaurant of former Merivale Chef Jake Kellie.

Closer to home, Luke Mangan has added a version of the appetiser to his menu at Luke’s Kitchen at the Kimpton, while Silvester restaurant at The Marriot has offered patrons a caviar service.

“When I started cooking 25 years ago I would never have thought I’d serve caviar, it was just so elite – like foie gras was seen as,” Toft said.

“There’s clearly an appetite in the city,” he said.

He said the quirkiness of caviar bumps can make an elevated dining experience more relaxed and an elite menu ingredient accessible.

“By eating something off your hand with your hand in the first 15 minutes of going into quite an elevated dining experience – I think it kind of removes the shackles and anxiety that come with it,” he explained.

“We’re seeing something that was held in the luxurious echelon that is almost being available to a broader range of people unlike ever before.”

But while Toft said he appreciated the success of caviar bumps, “I don’t want that [caviar bumps] to be the only thing that Mimi’s is known for”.

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