There is both a vegetarian and non vegetarian degustation menu on offer both for $160 with matched wines for an extra $110. We opted for the normal menu, which was far from 'normal' in comparison to most restaurants. The meal began with three chef's offerings. I have added the Internet prices for the matched wines which seemed to be particularly suited to the food.
Shiitake broth with Society garlic, a superb broth, the little flowers have a taste of garlic but do not leave behind a garlic breath, hence the name. Originating in South Africa they are often grown in suburban gardens because of their pretty flowers. Their grass like leaves are also garlic like and can be eaten as can their bulbs.
Francis Boulard ‘Les Murgiers’ Blanc de Noir, NV, –Cauroy-les-Hermonville, France (Approx $30 or less)
Snow crab, who would think that delicate crab could be served with horse radish, salmon roe and puffed rice but it produces a great combination. The presentation is gorgeous and it comes with a story reminding chef Shewry of snow covered mountains recalled from his childhood. A wonderful dishPeter Lauer ‘Fas 25’ Reisling 2010, Saar, Germany (Less than $29)
Mac Forbes ‘Gruyere’ Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria ($76 for a magnum)
Tomato, smoked sesame, eleven basils, is a colourful vegetarian dish. It's main feature is the treatment of the small black Russian tomatoes laid out on a strip of bright red pepper. Pretty as it was I missed the photo!
Navazos/Nieport Blanco 2009, Jerez,Spain ($19)
Meat from the pearl oyster pintada maxima, served with fried chicken, sea lettuce, chard and dried onion leaf. Not normally eaten this is the oyster from which South Sea pearls are harvested. It is a very large oyster with a beautiful iridescent mother of pearl shell. The oyster meat is very firm but tender with a delicate flavour reminiscent of calamari.
Chateau d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angels Rose’ 2010 – Provence, France ($20)
Kumara, Purslane, Pyengana, served with buckwheat, broccolini and a barely cooked egg yolk on a Tasmanian cheddar cream from Pyengana, a village with a population of 123 at the last census (2006). Purslane, also known as pigweed, is an edible, gourmet, succulent weed which happens to be rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamin A and C, which is becoming popular in cooking recently. Kumara is very like a mild sweet potato and, if you like that this dish is a great way to have it served.
Occipinti’SP68 Nero d’Avelo/Frappato, 2009 – Sicily, Italy ($22)
Pork tail, red melon, dune spinach. Water melon batons, tomato jam and shredded pork tail, who would imagine dining on pigs tails, beautifully decorated, provided stimulation to the appropriate senses.
Rippon gamay 2011 – Wanaka, New Zealand ($19.5)
Crawford river serendipitous selection Reisling 2010 – Henty, Victoria (RRP $45)
Native fruit of Australia of which the only one recognizable was the quondong or native peach, the red fruit at the top of the picture. They are all 'bush tucker'. Oakridge ‘Late Harvest’ Voigner 2009 – Yarra Valley, Victoria (2008 sells $35/ 375 ml)
The meal ended with an acknowledgment to the importance of the history of cuisine and a sign of respect and empathy for plants and animals. This was done via a birds nest with chocolate imitation eggs of the Pukeko, a cheeky red billed New Zealand bird that has adapted it's lifestyle to survive in a challenging human environment.An absolutely outstanding meal, the equal of any that we have enjoyed anywhere. It's going to be hard to improve on!