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|
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 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|
|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|
|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.
|Smoked Skipton Eel, Istra Pancetta, Heirloom Beets|
|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|
|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|
|Falafel, Hummus, Winter Salad, Spiced Carrot Custard, Labna|
|Marshmallow & Lemon Curd Lollipops|
Lemon curd! Marshmallows! Lollipops! Ok, these cute interpretations of cake pops were our cute palate cleansers.
|Quince, Honey, Hazelnut|
|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.
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.
King Street, Daylesford
Mon-Sun Lunch 12pm-2.30pm (last reservations), Dinner 6pm-9.30pm (last reservations)