After seeing Anthony Bourdaine's visit to Royal Mail in his show "No Reservations", I have been all aquiver to get a reservation here, a restaurant 3 hours north of Melbourne.
We finally got a booking and are here celebrating my 41st birthday. Tom keeps asking what I want for presents...is that so wrong that I just want to eat homegrown, organic, gourmet, Spanish / Australian food for four straight hours? It feels so right.
The town, Dunkeld has only 400 residents. I would have guessed 100. It's terribly quiet. Anthony Bourdaine says it's at the "ass end of No-where's-ville". True, that. He also calls it "quite possibly the best restaurant in Australia". So far, yes, tick that box for us.
Start watching at 2 minutes, 27 seconds...(email people click here).
Some of my favorite comments from Tony's bit here:
- "I don't know if want to eat that or roll around naked in it." (Tony...lover of all things indulgent... food, booze, drugs, tattoos, travel ... and writing)
- (Friend, Paul Wilson, local Melbourne chef) "And you're not a man who likes vegetables, Tony." .... Tony (in adorable, childlike voice): "I like pretty colorful things!!!" (and then he plays around in his flower salad...adorable!)
- "You forget how good a carrot can be. You do. Did I say that or did I just think that? (Tony)
- "Nothing felt constructed." (Tony) ...
"Make it have a reason, and at that point, stop." (Royal Mail chef, Dan Hunter)
- "It's so good it's almost depressing." (Tony)
It really was like a book you didn't want to end...I was sad as each of the 10 courses drew to a close. Luckily, I ordered the omnivore degustation menu and Tom had the vegetarian...so we each got to try both.
Chef Dan Hunter designed the venue with "its own ecosystem" and "its own sustainable sourcing and food production". As we were eating the complimentary continental breakfast this morning, we saw a sous chef walk by with an armful of freshly harvested rhubarb from their massive garden ... I wanted to tackle/hug him.
How can one not wonder what leads up to toasting prohibition? Anyway, back to dinner...
Heirloom baby carrots in black cream, sardines on toast and mini pork sandwich.
Egg yolk, toasted rye, legumes and yeast with a broccoli paste. All we can think about is getting more. It's like we're chasing a sprout dragon now. We grilled the server for recipe details ... apparently we'd need a special immersion bath that keeps the egg yolk at an exact 62 degrees. This feels ever so slightly out of our skill range, notwithstanding kitchen cabinet storage capabilities.
Coral trout, brassicas (mustard greens), chicken broth and fried skin.
The (above) strawberry and the sprout dish are among the best things I've ever put in my mouth. Fortunately, the venue also had a boutique hotel, so they only had to show us the door and pour us into bed afterwards.
I was going to ask for an I-pad ... maybe a tennis bracelet or a bike with a big rattan basket on the handlebars, but the memories of this marathon experience (and let's hope, not the fatness accrued) will last forever. No, gluttony is not good. But there is a lot right about this place and truly a thrill of my lifetime to get to be a part of it.
Even though we spent the rest of the weekend in other parts of the Grampian Mountain range, we are haunted by the flavors and determined to go back to their bistro on Sunday.
Fly away, you poor little precious quail we noticed on the ala cart menu ... TomKit is in route and hungry for more.