Dining Room, Macalister Mansion
The Dining Room at Macalister Mansion is a wash of crisp white, with splashes of pale and cerulean blues adding charisma of a winter wonderland. Pastel animal statues of deer and antelope, seemingly grazing and frolicking the room, surround the centrepiece – a snowy tree reaching up towards the tent like ceiling. White clothed tables hold verdant leafy arrangements adding some spring nature to the frosty ambience. An excellent sound system flutes lively jazz tunes into each area. Both a larger dining area and smaller private rooms provide just the right amount of intimacy.
It often seems the best way to sample a restaurant’s offerings is through a set menu. We tried the Table D’Hote – six courses, with a choice of mains (chicken, yellowtail, beef, lamb or cod), plus amuse bouche, palate cleanser and petite fours. Wine pairing was requested of course! And… with a newly vamped wine cellar brandishing one of the largest compendiums of labels on the island, one can be assured a solid choice of both old and new world wines is at the bidding.
The Amuse Bouche arrived on a long thin platter. A set of three miniature bites, a mixture of pastry and cheese, were soon demolished. One dripped with truffle honey, another with goat’s cheese crowned with black caviar and, the last a savoury mouthful, performed their job well, leaving our appetites unlocked and our taste buds entertained.
Ginjo Jumai Sake partnered the first plate and came chilled and refreshing. Home Cured and Smoked Salmon Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette Jelly and Balsamic Reduction was its mate. A roll of pink buttery salmon sat at the forefront of the plate atop a perfect round of raspberry vinaigrette jelly, a deep maroon in colour. Eight drops of red liquid dotted the fore. Rising, as if a tropical peak in the background, a cylinder of thin crisp sweet and buttery pastry held a spiky bunch of salad leaves blooming with edible flowers and black sprinklings of caviar.
Seared Hokkaido Scallops and Sauteed Corn with Truffle Mousse and Cauliflower Puree still spurs my mouth to water even just at the thought. Two succulent, lightly pan-fried scallops of gentle taupe hue stole the show. A crunchy olive bread stick sprouted micro greens and was used to stir the velvety mousse. A crisp Prosecco pairing cut through the cream and complemented the shellfish.
Hickory Smoked Soft Boiled Quail Eggs, Salsa Verde, Edible Hay and Poppy Seeds were up next. As the glass cover sheltering the nest was lifted, a smell of the countryside wafted to our noses. Thoughts of farms and spring, horses and chickens, in an idyllic hobby farm surfaced. Three eggs sat as if ready to hatch on a bed of edible hay. The eggs were sprinkled with black sesame and coated with a green sauce providing a contrast to the earthy taste and texture of the edible hay. An unusual Italian grape, Due Tigli Trebbiano NV, with its faint grassy aromas heightened the experience.
|The Cover is Lifted|
|Due Tigli Trebbiano NV|
Continuing with the same white, the Trebbiano served to intensify the flavour of the following broth, White Bisque with Ricotta and Crab Cannelloni. Chewy croutons gave something to bite into and the soup a change in texture before the meatier mains.
A passion fruit and capsicum sorbet arrived just in time to cleanse the palate. The coral hued ball was served in an icy ceramic bowl. The capsicum first hit the top of the mouth and then the passion fruit eased the strength with some sweet and tart around the sides of the tongue.
Daring but comfortable, innovative, yet familiar, the menu pushed the boundaries just enough to provide appeal while maintaining interest from start to finish. Even though we were filling quickly, we eagerly awaited and guessed about the presentation and flavours of the next dish.
|Braised Rump of Baby Lamb, Lamb Jus, Spring Vegetables, Confit Potato and Truffle Cream|
I ordered a lighter option, the Pan Seared Miso Cod with Braised Shimeji, Olive Soil, Caviar and Watercress Coulis. Artistic ovals of black dressing interweaved the bottom of the plate. Like a Picasso painting, a green olive loam filled in the figures produced by the intersection of the lines. A tangle of mushrooms supported a hefty wall of flaky white fish. A generous coronet of black caviar finished this ocean dish. Whiffs of vanilla and toast in the light fruity chardonnay complemented this fish hoisting it to a noble level.
|Canepa Chardonnay 2010|
Dessert, a Chocolate Bowl Filled with Peanut Butter Mousse, Hazelnut Crumble, Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Ice Cream served as a deconstructed Cloud 9 chocolate bar. Up until this moment I was full of vocabulary to describe each course, with the teaming though of a Florio 1833 Vecchioflorio Marsala Superiore, my words were reduced to guttural mmmms, of satisfaction.
|Chocolate Bowl Filled with Peanut Butter Mousse, Hazelnut Crumble, Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Ice Cream|
A pretty line-up of Petite Fours followed, but we skipped these to reserve tummy room for a nightcap in The Den. Highly recommended, but more of that in another post.