P and I went out last night to celebrate a number of things:
-our daughter is no longer sleeping in our bedroom
-our son is no longer sleeping in our bedroom
-our children are both sleeping through (touch wood)
- New Year's 2004 and 2005
- Our anniversary 2004
mmmm that can do because we can save up any other previous occasion that we failed to celebrate suitably at the time for another evening out, minus the children in our home on our return, plus a sleep in!
We went to this restaurant. It lived up to the review too. In terms of decor it is busy bistro which means lots of noise an no table clothes and big wine glasses. Noisy, though we were not straining to hear each other and we were reasonably close to the next couple. It also has footpath dining and P and I during the evening both questioned the value of dining out on a path were people normally tread up and back. It is what it is, a long thinish piece of concrete with cars parked besides. For me footpath dining has no appeal unless the road and cars are obscured. Plus it was a balmy night and we relished the cool interior of the restaurant.
It is the first time in a very long time that we both had 3 courses, each. The portions were perfectly sized we felt neither over-full nor under- fed once finished. P suggested that bigger eaters might have thought that the portions were too small. For us, there have been occasions at the end of restaurant dining experiences where we have both sat back and patted our tender tummy's and felt filled to the tippity tip,top of our stomachs and said
"If only we hadn't shared that dessert/drank that white wine/had that champagne/eaten that bread/ordered that heavish red etc."
This time we paced it all perfectly the food and the drinks. A couple of glasses of the restaurant's bubbly and on to a red from our stock which we decided needed/had to be consumed for fear that keeping it any longer might see it spoil.
At most restaurants we usually share the dessert or the entree or both. We ordered entrees which were Asian influenced. My scallops (without roe what a pity) were served with seaweed and a small crispy piece of pork belly in the centre, hints of ginger and splashes of blackbean and soy completed the tasty plate. P had a crab salad, heavy on the lime and coriander but refreshing and appetizing nevertheless.
On to mains and we chose meals with a Mediterranean influence. Quite unusual for me as I like to stay with a theme. However we had taken a 1998 St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon which was in peak drinking condition and while I was tempted by the baby chicken with harissa, I couldn't go past the confit of duck with rocket, Braseola and fig salad. P can never resist meat - an aged piece, rare of course with golden roast potatoes ( a nice change from creamy mash) with baby beetroot and a frothy cream.
It was all fantastic and the confit of duck melted in my mouth with the exception as it should, the crisply grilled skin on top. P's meat like-wise melted in our mouths. There was a swap of the plates partially through the meals.
We are one of "those" couples we discuss the order and make sure that what the other orders we would both like to order too, very, very rarely do we order the same dishes. Then there is some exchanging to happen. Not the lovey-dovey here I will fed you stuff. No, serious swapping involving the subtle swapping of two plates from one to the other and its subsequent return to the owner. We do this when we dine together or with our friends, sorry, we don't dine out enough to get a return visit its now or never to try exactly what this restaurant is capable of.
Returning to my duck, I have confited duck, once. It was a bit time consuming but well worth the effort (a Philip Johnson's Ecco recipe). The only thing that keeps me from confiting more duck is the notion that I am steeping the duck in fat, slowly cooking it in fat and then storing it in fat. Fat-saturated, oh so tasty, delicious, gorgeous, confit of duck! So I try to only make it once a decade and eat it twice a year which is how often I might happen across it on a menu.
Dessert, chocolate souffle and home-made chocolate chip ice-cream and P had the mango crepe suzette with home-made vanilla bean ice-cream. Both dishes disappeared in quick time and we of course, swapped and then with a gentle reminder from me to P, my chocolate souffle returned for its final moments to me.
Curiously we both thought the chocolate souffle did not use flour as it was very light. I have made fruit souffles without flour like raspberry souffles but never a chocolate one. I will have to track down a recipe for a chocolate souffle that doesn't use flour.
The mango crepe suzettes were light and the mango perfect it was firm,ripe and sweet. We also shared a glass of their dessert wine.
So very highly recommended and on my list as a definite one to return to in 2005.
Das Kaffeehaus, Castlemaine
16 hours ago