We live pretty frugally from day to day, but once a year we like to splurge. Last year for our anniversary we went to Loam and had an absolutely delicious dinner, this year we decided to go to the newly opened Brae Restaurant.
Recently opened by Dan Hunter, Brae is a modern resturant located on 30 productive acres in Birregurra, Victoria. It was evident throughout the many stunning courses that great thought was put into combining fine dinning with using local and sustainable ingredients.
It was almost a shame to start eating each subsequent course as you didn’t want the taste of the preceding to leave your mouth.
Lunch started with some small tastes, to eat with your fingers. Beef tendon with mountain pepper (above), prawn, nasturtium and finger lime (the sweet little green parcel), burnt pretzel, treacle and pork (in the middle) and wallaby and flax, lemon myrtle and wattle (on either side).
Our first ‘main’ course was simply titled calamari and pickles. Each course was presented with its ‘title’ and then after we would ask questions about the ingredients, how things were cooked, and how flavours were combined.
The calamari had been poached and was resting on top a bed of lemon scented pickled cucumber, radish and succulents.
Short fin eel, sea urchin, zucchini and macadamia was a dish that blew my mind and I’m very glad there was three little tastes of it, allowing me to try things separately and all together, as it was intended.
Sadly I forgot to take a photo of my favourite course, Southern rock lobster cooked with carrot, white onion and sea butter. The sea butter was a butter sauce cooked with sea herbs, the salty flavour of the sea herbs permeating through the butter, and the dish.
Salt grass lamb, beans and lettuce. I’m always in awe of people who cook the lettuce core, all the flavours marrying perfectly, with the addition of a broad bean puree and a whole lemon puree, that was neatly tucked below the tender lamb.
Charred ridicchio, duck offal and muntrie berry wasn’t my favourite dish of the day but I absolutely loved the texture of this dish. Hidden underneath the ridicchio was toasted buckwheat kernels, dehydrated mandarin zest, the duck offal and the muntrie berries.
Each bite was a party in my mouth with the textures that all the varying ingredients added to the dish.
Grass fed wagyu, rock samphire and Otway shiitake. For this dish we were given a sharp knife, which was a beautiful addition but completely unnecessary as you could have cut this stunning piece of meat with a wooden spoon.
This dish bought tears to J’s eyes, the shiitake and the sharp radish with the melting meat were simply stunning.
Now you might remember that I had been disappointed by dessert at Loam, as a dessert lover, the degustation dessert don’t tend to take my fancy. So I had prepared for a similar experience this anniversary.
I was so pleasantly surprised. The first of two desserts, watermelon, quandong, rhubarb and rose was almost a palate cleanser after the richness of the many courses. The surprise for me was the sweet pea juice that sat in the bottom of the bowl, adding almost a bitter element.
My stand out dish of the day was absolutely the parsnip and apple dessert. The crispy parsnip curl and the airy apple mousse brought tears to my eyes and redeemed degustation desserts everywhere. Had I not be so full (and I’d been allowed) I’d have requested another plate!
After all that food we were offered tea and coffee. J usually doesn’t drink coffee in the afternoon but knowing it would be of formidable standards, had to try one. I just asked for a minty herbal tea and that request was met with “I’ll go and pick you some herbs from the garden ma’am”.
This minty tea (and the beautiful glass teapot and stunning mugs) were the perfect addition to the final taste of the day.
Berries and blood biscuit, I found out really does have blood in it. They make a sugar biscuit, and instead of using the whole egg, use only the yolks and whip blood to add aeration. It was surprisingly moreish, but I’m glad I ate it before finding out about the secret ingredient.
It was a wonderful way to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, and it may be the last chance we get for a while to spend $400 and 4 hours on lunch.