Well, I am very happy to say that a second visit did not disappoint. In fact, my dining partner is planning another visit soon. I think I’ll go with him. Again.
Let’s get straight to the food. Our pre-entrée entrée was oysters. On offer were Sydney Rock, SA’s Coffin Bay and Barilla Bay from Tassie. As a staunch ex-pat South Australian, I opted for the Coffin Bay, as did my dining partner. Although our choice was excellent; freshly shucked and tasting of the sea, served with nothing but a cheek of lemon, the chef subtly teased us with a ‘bonus’ oyster… the Sydney Rock. It was amazing! Creamier, less minerally and a little less salty than our half a dozen of Coffin Bay. But of course, the problem with Sydney Rock oysters are that you need a lot of them.
For entrée, we both continued the seafood theme and selected the char grilled sardines with red cabbage, pine nuts, raisins, parsley and pomegranate. My dining partner requested not to have pine nuts and went on to ‘enlighten’ me and our waiter of something called “Pine Mouth”, where a bitter, metallic taste develops in your mouth and lasts for a few days, rendering your palette useless. Google it… It seems legit. I didn’t care though, I wanted mine with pine nuts and I’m fine today. Anyway, the sardines were great, if not a little on the dry side. A drizzle of olive oil would have made a world of difference.
For mains, my dining partner went for the duck and I was very excited by a slow cooked pork neck that someone was tucking into at another table. Both dishes did not disappoint.
The duck was slow roasted, cooked to a perfect pink and was served puy lentils, walnuts. Sweet beetroot (whole baby and shredded) and blueberries offset the richness of the duck. Fruit with duck rocks!
The pig came in the form of two generous nuggets of neck (given the size of the pieces, I’m scared to think how big the rest of this beast was), which had been slow cooked at 57 degrees (or thereabouts) for something like 12 hours… or a week, I can’t remember. It was then pan fried skin side down to form a crisp, glassy and delicious crackling. There was an unctuous, sticky jus to moisten the meltingly tender meat and a daub of puree (cauliflower, perhaps?), which both complimented the piggy goodness.
For a side dish, the previously available King Island sour cream mash potato had been replaced by Paris Mash. Artery-clogging, buttery deliciousness. We forgot to order greens. Damn.
I told my dining partner about the Barry White-esque ‘leg opener’ Eskimo’s Pie on the dessert menu, which he duly ordered and inhaled. I initially thought watching two middle-aged women go all giddy, was bad enough… watching a middle-aged man do it was worse! It made me feel uncomfortable.
To take my mind off it, I tucked into the Granny Smith Apple Pie with Maple Ice Cream. The pie was nothing like my Nan (coincidentally, her surname was Smith) used to make (hers were rubbish). The not overly-sweet, tart apple was encased in what I think was a suet-based pastry… light as a feather and crisp. The accompanying maple ice cream added the extra sweetness required, which was just right. A cracker of a dessert and I’m still not upset that I haven’t had a crack at the Eskimo’s Pie. Maybe next time.
I have a strange feeling that the trio of cheeses we selected were the exact choices from my last visit; a washed rind, an excellent cheddar and Cashel blue. Again, I was a little peeved that after all the effort that went into producing the preceding courses, next to the excellent house made flatbread and toasted fruit bread were those God-awful cardboardy shop-bought wafer crackers. Papa Goose, if you’re reading this, please get rid of them… I’d even be happier with water crackers.
For wine, we polished off a couple of bottles of the 2006 Torbreck ‘The Steading’, which is a Grenache, Mourvèdre / Mataro, Shiraz. It’s heavy on the Grenache which made it a perfect accompaniment to our mains… and desserts… and cheeses… and post-lunch Peroni(s)… and post Peroni beers at Tuscan Bar, but that’s another story.
Another long, lazy afternoon consisting of great food, wine and company. This place is an absolute gem!