Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lake House

The Lake House is one of those restaurants that you hear about, but rarely contemplate visiting because it's out in the country. After finally deciding to make a trip out with the boy (for no special reason other than we wanted to), I can say definitely say that we had a great time, although overall it didn't quite meet our high expectations. Nevertheless, the efficiency of the service, the quality and freshness of the food and the brilliance of the chef were definitely apparent, justifying its reputation of one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. 

To kick things off, we had glass of Marie-Courtin Resonance Blanc de Noirs. Light and refreshing, it was the perfect way to start the meal.
Marie-Courtin Resonance  Blanc de Noirs
Olives and Bread Sticks
The champagne was accompanied by a small dish of warm olives and slightly cheesy bread sticks, which we appreciated as we were quite hungry after the drive up. We struggled a bit deciding what to order, as there are 2-dish, 3-dish, 4-dish and degustation options. Finally, we settled on the degustation menus, with M and I choosing the normal and vegetarian menus respectively, just so we could try more dishes.

Then there was the decision of whether we wanted matched wines or not for another $80. We couldn't really pass up on the wines matched by the restaurant holding the honour of Country Wine List of the Year though.

The staff have a tendency to serve the wine before the matched dish arrives (sometimes quite far in advance) which puts me in the uncomfortable position of trying not to touch the wine until I have the food. I don't want to miss out on the enhanced experience of having both quality wine and food together, but have an annoying habit of drinking what's in front of me.

In any case, I started drinking the intriguing dry sherry by Sanchez Romate, grown in Jerez, Spain, when the corn bread with tarragon infused butter and the amuse-bouche of quail eggs arrived, when really it should have gone with the first entree dish.

Sanchez Romate Sherry, with Corn Brean & Tarragon Infused Butter

Quail Egg Amuse-Bouche
The corn-bread was crunchy on the outside, although perhaps slightly too dry, but fragrant and soft on the inside, filled with sweet corn kernals. The tarragon infused butter melted easily and the entire dish was a nice diversion from the standard bread and butter served.

The amuse-bouche was melt-in-the-mouth amazing. Eaten in a single bite, the slight saltiness of the egg burst into a mouthful creamy yolk, while the bread added substance. We had very high expectations after this dish, but to me, this was the highlight of the meal.

When M's first course came out, we were entranced by how pretty it was.

Sashimi Mackerel, Slow-Cooked Octopus, Fennel, Smoky Paprika
The seafood dish was simple and fresh, and the garnish complemented the seafood well. In addition, it looked amazing, especially as the sunlight filtered through it.

Chestnut/Armagnac Veloute, Wild Rice, Chestnut Blinchik

My first dish was less visually impressing, but what it lacked in looks, it made up in smell. The soup was creamy, nutty and comforting. It was perhaps the most appropriate autumn soup that I've ever had. The pastry on the other hand was a little less impressive. The strong tasting pastry overwhelmed the mushrooms, which I expected to be the main player in this dish. The wine match was done very well (that sherry which was half empty by this stage), with the strong dry taste complementing the soup perfectly.

Scallops, Chicken, Corn, Bois Boudran
The second courses soon arrived. Once again visually brilliant, M's chicken were tender and well-flavoured, and the scallops were soft and delicate. My dish was much better though.

Crisp Crumbed Hen's Egg, Pumpkin, Currants, Seeds

Crisp Crumbed Hen's Egg, Pumpkin, Currants, Seeds

Look at that egg, and look at that yolk! A serious questions though, is there any other type of chicken egg? I wasn't aware, but hey, if they want to stop confusion, I don't blame them. Moving on from one of life's mysteries though, the egg itself was a beautiful contrast of soft, creamy yolk and crispy, slightly salty 'crust'. The sweet heirloom  pumpkins, and the crunchy seeds completed the dish. Perfect.

After the first two dishes, the time between courses unfortunately increased. I got a little bored waiting between courses so of course I started taking pictures of the table decorations.
Salt Dish
The kaleidoscopic of colours played like a rainbow on the tablecloth. The third courses eventually arrived though, so of course I was distracted by the food.

Smoked Skipton Eel, Istra Pancetta, Heirloom Beets
I couldn't get over how well presented all these dishes were. They'd treated the plate like a canvas, and the beetroot stain was like the stroke of a paintbrush. In terms of the taste though, M's Eel slightly tougher than I'd expected. The accompanying cream fraiche and sweet beetroot were perfectly done though.

Tempura Tofu, Yellow Bean Paste, Funghi

My tempura tofu was better cooked in my opinion, being crispy on the outside, yet soft and delicate on the inside. Mushroom medley and wombok made a nice salad, and the dish was more impressive than you'd expect at your standard restaurant because you know the mushrooms are picked from the local forest.

Butter Poached Pheasant, Choucroute, Sausage, Chestnuts

M's next dish featuring pheasant was prepared two ways. I found the pheasant breast a bit flavourless and tough, with a little bit of sinew present. The pastry however was buttery and flaky and perfectly delicious. The pheasant contained inside was moist and full of flavour.

Goat Curd Tortellini, Wild Mushrooms

I had a dish of creamy goat's curd and earthy mushrooms with soft, fresh pasta. I was amused that they still had mushrooms in the forest, but this comfort dish was almost perfect, even though I don't usually like pasta. I can't resist a good goat's cheese dish of course, so maybe that's the reason I liked it.

Rabbit - Cassoulet, Loin and Cottechino Salad
Once again, M's dish featured a meat prepared two ways. The rabbit loin bland (do you see a trend emerging here?), but confeit amazing rich and complex. It seems like the Lake House makes the full use of local produce, but is only able to highlight them to their full glory when they're allowed to prepare them with creativity, rather than simply.

Beets, Walnuts, Mustard Creme Fraiche

My next course was the same salad as the one that accompanied eel. While I mentioned before that it was good, would have preferred more substance. I had a hankering for meat that this stage, and the salad didn't satisfy me.

To make matters worse, when M's dish arrived, I was salivating like mad.

12 Hour Mt Mercer Pig, Trotter, Blood Pudding
In his words, it was "Sooooo good!". The pork was crispy, without the heavy sauces as I'm used to having with pork. The pork flavour was apparent, but it wasn't 'smelly' as it can sometimes be.

Falafel, Hummus, Winter Salad, Spiced Carrot Custard, Labna
My platter was impressive and varied. The soft goat's curd as light clouds, and the carrot sauce was brilliant. While the falafels were good, I maintain that Sydney Road has some even nicer ones (and much cheaper).

Marshmallow & Lemon Curd Lollipops

Lemon curd! Marshmallows! Lollipops! Ok, these cute interpretations of cake pops were our cute palate cleansers.

Quince, Honey, Hazelnut
Our desserts came afterwards. I didn't that M's dish worked so well as a cohesive dish, but on their own, each of the elements were well made.

Chocolate & Mint

My mint and chocolate dish was much better thought out, with the fail-safe combination working well. I loved the aero and the  mint sorbet. I did find the jelly a little odd, but it wasn't bad. It's always good to try new things, even a new interpretation of a childhood favourite.

Sweet Indulgences 
The final course was a dish of sweet indulgences accompanied by coffee. They were nice, nothing special. The menu advertises that diners can pick their own from the bon-bon trolley, but we were unfortunately denied this delight. We certainly would have preferred to pick our own selection (and I would have omitted the caramel popcorn). As expected from a Victorian restaurant, the coffee was strong and of a good quality.

Long Black
In hindsight, it would have been nice to have both the funds and time to have spent the weekend there, but unfortunately, we're a little short on both. The food is a lot more affordable if you stay in the hotel as well. While the dishes weren't overwhelmingly spectacular, the menu is well thought out, being filled with good quality, and seasonally appropriate food. The overall meal was comforting, accompanied by high-quality wine and efficient service. 

Lake House
King Street, Daylesford
Mon-Sun Lunch 12pm-2.30pm (last reservations), Dinner 6pm-9.30pm (last reservations) 

 Lake House on Urbanspoon


  1. I love Lake House! I was hoping that the egg custard would appear in the degustation menu you guys had so I was sad to hear that it didn't make it. It looks like you guys had a great lunch nevertheless though, but yes, next time I'd be wanting to make a weekend trip out of it and also try other Daylesford restaurants!

    1. Oh, and egg custard would have been perfect!

      A weekend out there would be amazing; the fresh food, the country air, the hot springs! Heaven.

  2. EVerything looks so pretty and awesome!

    1. The presentation is so good! The food was amazingly fresh as well :)