Where: The National Gallery of Victoria, International. St Kilda Rd
For the 2013 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival I was lucky enough to accompany Lush to three Restaurant Express Lunches, as we had last year. The first of these, on the Labour Day public holiday, proved difficult to book, as most restaurants are closed on Mondays anyway! The premise of the lunches is a flat $40 for 2 courses, a glass of wine and tea or coffee. As I don’t drink alcohol, and Lush happily does, I ordered my vino for Lush's delectation. As we were two, we shared an entree, shared two mains and shared a dessert, sampling the widest array of flavours, ingredients and treats possible.
Miso marinated beef, crunch carrot & lime salad: Structured simply around lightly marinated and grilled beef, this salad would be considered a main for some of the people I know. The miso flavour, although subtle, added an extra kick of umami to the dish, which was delightfully contrasted by the freshness of the carrot and lime salad. The drizzle of roasted tomato puree was a little odd as it didn’t add anything new to the flavours, but did add a nice colour contrast against the elegant black plate.
Confit of chicken leg, lentils, pancetta, chive crème fraiche: A generous serve of chicken – a leg as well as a deboned thigh – served with slightly caramelized lentils and pancetta. Dense crème fraiche, with a slightly overpowering chive-iness, provided a roundness of flavour that can only be achieved with good quality dairy. Served with microherbs – a signature of the restaurant – this dish was my favourite of the savouries, with the unctuous chicken, salty bursts of lentil and luscious cream combining to a familiar yet decadent repast.
Seasonal Mushroom, deep fried free range egg, truffle dressing: Portobello, enoki, oyster and sliced king brown mushrooms sautéed in butter to perfection. Served with a panko-coated deep fried egg of deepest orange yolk and a tomato pasata with overtones of truffle this dish was visually splendid. Truffle, beloved by Lush, is not my favourite flavour, and I found this dish too earthy for my palate. Although brilliantly executed a few bites proved to be sufficient for this gourmand.
Chocolate tart, chocolate sorbet: A slice of decadent dark chocolate tart with a chocolate almond wafer and creamy chocolate sorbet, served with unexpected microherbs (violets) and chocolate coated pop rocks. My oh my, this would be almost sickening if I tried to eat it all alone – although I would try – but the chocolate flavours, combined with the unanticipated fizzing made the dessert POP.
2010 Yering Station Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley VIC
Guest Blogger - Friend of Lush