Lake House – Daylesford – Sunday 23 March 2014 – Dinner

I feel I need to explain from the outset two things. One is that as I get a grip on my writing in this blog I cannot do justice to some of the better restaurants like Lake House. The second is that I am a little biased having been married at the Lake House in the Terrace Room.

It didn’t take long to hear about Lake House once I “got into” restaurants. Alla Wolf-Tasker is a big name in sustainable, regional cuisine and recently was inducted into the AGT Hall of Fame.

It also didn’t take long to get to Daylesford.  It is less than 90 minutes from Melbourne. My question, being a relative newcomer to Victoria, is which came first – Daylesford or Lake House?

Chocolate, fig, raspberry, fig leaf ice cream

Chocolate, fig, raspberry, fig leaf ice cream

One thing is for sure, each and every time I have dined at this restaurant, it has been exciting, surprising, engaging and amazing. It has opened me up to the other treats that Daylesford has to offer, and led me to nearby towns like Kyneton where Annie Smithers is just as important.

The first time I dined here we were staying in Hepburn Springs and chose to experience the eight course degustation, which was magnificent. The second time was our wedding. This is the third time and the three course menu comes as part of an accommodation package.

Our waitperson helpfully pointed out that for only a small surcharge we could choose the degustation again, but some of the dishes we were keen to try were not included so we settled on three courses plus the optional Moreton Bay Bug ravioli between entrée and main.

Snapper escabeche, chargrilled octopus, morcilla, gazpacho vinaigrette, green olive, smokey paprika, black garlic

Snapper escabeche, chargrilled octopus, morcilla, gazpacho vinaigrette, green olive, smokey paprika, black garlic

To begin, a delicious gazpacho shot, packed full of flavour, was our amuse. Having enjoyed some of the best heirloom tomatoes we had ever had the night before, we had hoped it would be perfect and it was. Next we had our entrees (pictured and captioned per the menu). The snapper was, at first, a little subtle, next to some fuller flavours, in particular the paprika chips. Once I put the morcilla, and the other elements all together, the dish became beautifully balanced. It would have taken a lot of work to put this on a plate. Catherine had the tuna which was terrific. Having also tasted a similar tuna dish at Grossi a few weeks earlier, I can definitely vouch for Alla versus Guy on this round!

Moreton Bay bug ravioli, kim chi, dashi

Moreton Bay bug ravioli, kimchi, dashi

The “optional” course in this case should not be taken literally. It is an absolute must try. For my wife it was the highlight of the savoury courses. For me, whilst glad we were having a raviolo each, I probably could have had four for main! The Bug was pronounced. Highlighted much more than similar attempts of restaurants with crab and other seafood fillings. However, the highlight was the dashi and the kimchi that accompanied the perfectly formed pasta. The combination was again the key.

Kangaroo - fillet, tartare, heirloom beets, mountain pepper, elderberry

Kangaroo – fillet, tartare, heirloom beets, mountain pepper, elderberry

Mains were very good without setting the world on fire. For some time I have toyed with the idea that Kangaroo has potential. Even at Lake House, the most perfectly cooked roo I’ve eaten, even accompanied by beautiful heirloom beets, it could not sing the way other meat can. Catherine’s duck was also beautifully cooked but the skin, in her opinion, should have been crispy to add texture.

Duck, pan seared breast, roast fig, Moroccan salad, smoked yoghurt

Duck, pan seared breast, roast fig, Moroccan salad, smoked yoghurt

Dessert was plated in a modern picturesque fashion. There was flavour behind the beauty with the popular and seasonal local figs used as a focal point with chocolate and raspberries. It all worked well and tasted great. Catherine’s was similar with a nice combination of flavours and textures, all in balance and using difficult techniques that were effortlessly executed.

Peanut butter, black sesame, caramel, banana

Peanut butter, black sesame, caramel, banana

There is something unique and special about the setting at Lake House. You can feel the history, you can’t help but relax amongst all the others in the dining room who are generally having a weekend (or longer) away, and the floorstaff seem to have a similar attitude in a professional way. We love the artwork around the room by Alla’s husband Allan showing highly convivial scenes that are almost outrageous. Please don’t change a thing!

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