The next restaurant in my 2015 Festival of Food journey is one of my favourites, the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. Located inside the Botanic Gardens, the surroundings almost have a fairy tale setting about it. After getting the restaurant validated on my Festival of Food smartphone app, it’s just a matter of picking a main course. I’ve already reviewed this place twice, so I’ll just get straight into the food.
Food that contains squid ink is all the rage at the moment and I wasn’t surprised to find the availability of squid ink bread. The bread was soft and spongy, and bit saltier than normal.
As a complimentary starter we were served the Amuse Bouche. Inside a soft delicate cylindrical shell were mashed up peas. The whole casing was sitting on top of a sauce that tasted like liquid bacon. The peas and bacon worked well together although the former was quite prominent throughout.
The Entree Tasting Plate consisted of (top to bottom) Pork Head and Horseradish Terrine, Baked Ricotta and Woodside Goats Curd, and Seared Hiramasa Kingfish.
The Pork Head and Horseradish Terrine had a good contrast of flavours and textures. The intense flavours of the horseradish and mustard leaves were balanced by the subtle sweetness of the quince puree and grilled onion. The ginger bread added a nice crunchy texture. We did think the terrine was a little softer than expected.
The Baked Ricotta and Woodside Goats Curd was soft and delicate, and it’s flavour was heightened by the sweetness of the beetroot, onions and pomegranate. The herb meringue was an interesting addition to this dish as it reminded me of a macaron shell.
The best dish on the plate was the Seared Hiramasa Kingfish. The fish had a lovely smokiness about it which was complimented by the sweet tangy pickled kohlrabi and the slightly chewy puffed wild rice.
For the main, I had the Coorong Angus Brisket. While the presentation was delightful, and there were a lot of elements to the dish, I thought the serving size was a bit conservative. The were two types of beef in this dish. The beef strips were tender and succulent with a lovely pinkish centre, while the compressed beef cube was very similar to a pulled pork. The potatoes boulangere were firm and crisp, while the beetroot emulsion and caramelised garlic added a touch of sweetness. The smoked king brown mushroom looked like a piece of meat but was rather smooth and delicate.
My friend had the Robe Barramundi which was served with prawn boudin, octopus, Goolwa pippies, saffron, chickpeas and smoked beans. The fish was perfectly cooked and the other seafood ingredients were a good match in this dish. I was told that the chickpeas seemed out of place in this dish.
The Dutch Cream Potatoes were the side that we both shared. The potatoes were crisp on the outside, and soft and fluffy in the centre. Not the best in presentation but a necessity to fill you up.
For dessert, I had the Corella Pear with smoked white chocolate, coconut, dulce de leche and yoghurt bark. This simple looking dessert actually tasted quite good. The crumbly texture of the coconut was a contrast to the surrounding sweet ingredients. The highlight, I thought, was the dulce de leche, which was a sweetened milk that almost tasted like caramel.
My friend had the Bitter Chocolate Waffle which came with blue cheese, nashi pear, soy walnuts and fired rosemary. This by all means is not a sweet dessert, in fact, I couldn’t even taste the chocolate in the waffle. All I could taste the was the pungent blue cheese which I am a total fan of.
The Petit Fours dessert was the Frangipani Slice with Red Wine and Poached Pear. Again, we had the contrasting textures that made it work so well.
The staff were very friendly and had full knowledge of all the dishes on offer. The service was also exceptional with cloth napkins placed on our laps, drinks and meals arriving promptly and plates being cleared as we finished. With views of the Botanic Gardens from where we were sitting, the atmosphere was relaxed and we couldn’t even tell it was a full house in the restaurant. As far as price goes, we each paid $39.50 for the Festival of Food offer, and a further $10.90 for our additional desserts.
Some dishes we liked more than others but we both agreed that we weren’t blown away by what we had this year.
WHERE: Lot 1, Hackney Rd, Hackney