Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lake House, Daylesford

Over the recent holidays, we rented a car and drove down to Ballarat, and then took a further 45 minute drive to Daylesford, where we quite possibly had our best meal in Melbourne yet.

Lake House Restaurant is part of the Lake House Hotel, which is a luxury hotel/spa (accommodation costs about 500 bucks a night there). The restaurant is run by Alla Wolf Tasker, whom some of you may know from the recent episode of Masterchef. The hotel has numerous awards, including Regional Accommodation of the Year, Australia’s Best Spa Restaurant, Best Hotel/Resort Dining, Best of Award for Excellence, and also most importantly, The Age Good Food Guide’s Two Chefs Hats.

We got there early for our 630 booking, and hung around the lobby. The hotel manager was also kind enough to let us know the password for the hotel’s wi-fi access.


We studied the menu while waiting. Our options were either a 2 course meal for $69, a 3 course meal for $85, or a degustation 12 course for $125. We decided that we’ll go with 2 courses first with the option of getting dessert later depending on how things were going.


We were eventually seated and found the restaurant to be very warm and cozy.

On to the food!

Now, we’ve been to fine dining restaurants a couple of times before, and understand that the amount that we usually get isn’t too much, but Lake House blew us away in terms of the amount that was served to us.

Before our entree appeared, we got a complementary amuse-bouche.


This is a mini cup. It may look like a normal sized teacup, but it is not. Which is an appropriate size for an amuse-bouche. The soup was creamy and silky, and tasted a bit like dhal (the ones you get in roti canai). It also warmed our souls up, which was especially good for the cold day that it was.

And then the entrees.

For her: 5 Tastes from the Sea.


From left to right, Kinkawooka Mussels Mariniere, Oyster Jelly, Tuna Sashimi with Pickled Cucumber and an Asian Salad, Snapper Ceviche, and Crystal Bay Prawns Tempura Style with a Chilli Aioli. I had the Oyster Jelly all to myself. It was a fresh oyster embedded in jelly, and really tasted as if it were from the sea. Nibbled a bit on the tempura as well, and certainly way better than the food court tempura prawns. I also had a bit of the snapper ceviche (fresh fish marinated in citrus juice – the acid cooks the fish), which was also excellent (Denise said it was awesome!).

For me: Lake House Charcuterie Plate: ‘Birds of a Feather’. I sort of knew what a charcuterie plate was – bits of ham and pate on a plate, but the amount that I got astounded me And for an entree as well! My dish came in 2 separate plates!


The container on the right was a Duck Parfait, which was the only thing I didn’t like about the dish. It was sweet and too sour, and it didn’t appeal to me. The container on the right was Duck Rillette in an Elderberry Jelly.  This was really good. Just like pate (I love pate), it went really well with the toasted brioche (the slices of bread in the middle). And there was quite a lot of pate as well (about as much as a tin of tuna, which is actually quite a lot!)


And the other part of the dish. From the top, and moving clockwise: Boudin Blanc with a Lentil Vinaigrette, Chicken Galantine with some Remoulade underneath it, and a Quail Egg Salad with a confit of Gizzard.  Every individual component of the dish was really good and really satisfied me. This is truly a dish for any meaty person. For the amount that I got, it could very easily have been a platter to share for 2 people.

Next, the mains.

For her: Pork.


This came to the table with a cover on it, containing a ‘light smoke’ i.e. steam with the multiple scents of the dish infused into it, and when the cover was removed, you could smell all the different tastes of the dish.

The 2 chunks of meat on top is the Brined Loin, underneath them which you cannot see are Crisped Rolled Bellies, and the one by itself is the Trotter Croquette. This was a very very very good dish. You could taste every individual component of the pork, and everything worked very well together. The croquette was light and fluffy, and had the delicate crisp on top. The crisped rolled bellies were very much like siew yok.

The dish also came with some Gewurtztraminer ‘soured cabbage’ and some pickled apple.


We also did not find this very appealing. It was sour, and much like an apple crumble, which is a dessert, not a main course.

And for me: Beef ‘pot au feu’. The traditional version of pot au feu, according to wikipedia, it is a french beef stew, literally meaning ‘pot on fire’. It is usually served with some pickled vegetables, eaten with some form of carbohydrate, and the broth from the stew can be used as a soup.

This was a deconstructed pot au feu. And it came in 2 separate plates as well.


A piece of toasted bread on top of the bouillon, which was the rich concentrated beef broth, for sipping. The broth had a very clean beefy taste, and I discovered that I liked it very much. The dressings (I wasn’t able to identify what dressings they were) were what brought the dish to the pinnacle. I daresay that without the dressings, the whole dish would be quite bland, but with them, truly excellent. This is where the whole of the dish is more than the sum of its parts.


This was Sher Wagyu cooked sous-vide. You can see the beef Silverside beside the round chunks of beef, and some Oxtail Dumplings in between, with the pickled vegetables scattered around it. Underneath it all, there was also some Smoked Tongue (not visible in the photo).

I loved the oxtail dumpling. The dumpling pastry was very delicate, and the taste of the oxtail was wonderful. The wagyu was very much like Kevin’s sous-vide beef which won him the Bocuse d’Or challenge in Top Chef Season 6. Very very tender. Tastewise though, it was a bit bland, but that was before I tried it (and everything else on the plate) with the dressings (talked about above) that came with it.

All in all, this was a very beefy dish. For beef lovers.


Every table also got a bowl of greens. Ours was the only table that finished it.

At this point, we were quite full, but we decided that since the meal was so good, we couldn’t pass up dessert. We opted to go for a shared platter for two.

But before our dessert arrived, we were presented each with a complementary ‘dessert as well!


This was a very clean and refreshing dessert. The pear jelly was sweet and fresh, and the yoghurt complemented the jelly very very well.

And then our dessert arrived.


A selection of everything! Starting from the bottom right and moving clockwise: Mango Panna Cotta, ‘I Forget What This Was So Let’s Call It Lemon Pudding’, Butterscotch Ice Cream, Creme Brulee, Chocolate Fondant, and a Granny Smith Granita.

Everything was very good. I wasn’t very partial to the butterscotch ice cream, but I liked the lemony pudding. I also always like panna cottas, so this was very good. I thought the creme brulee was a bit runny, but tasted very good (reminds me of a certain tv show, hmm, but still, very true). The chocolant fondant had the classic runny chocolate oozing out of it when you cut it, but my absolute favourite was the granita. I had that last, and it was the ideal finish to an ideal meal. Imagine a Granny Smith Slurpee. Cool and refreshing.

Looking around the room and at other people’s dishes as well, I concluded that every dish that they served were of a substantial amount, and I found myself wanting every single dish that the other patrons ordered.

This is a restaurant truly deserving of it’s 2 Chefs Hat status.

Very very nice, and I’d say, slightly more worth it than a ski lift pass for a day. Heh heh.

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