A destination restaurant, possibly the first time for Mr Smith where he has specifically gone to stay somewhere for the food…
He was definitely not disappointed. A long with the amazing stay at the Royal Mail Hotel, this was a visit all about the food. Staying for 2 nights, meant 2 nights in the restaurant and a total exploration of the menu, plus breakfast.
The basic concept of the restaurant is one of tasting menus, either 5 or 8 courses and all laically sourced produced, cooked to the highest possible standards. Perfect for 2 nights as that meant Mr Smith could have both the 5 and 8 course menus.
Heading over from the room to the dining room, Mr Smith entered the nice big and light dining room and was shown to his seat. After only a few moments of thought it was time for the 8 course menu to be ordered, along with matching wines of course.
Before we got started there was a delicious selection of snacks which really got the appetite going. This was followed by a stunning amuse bouche with smoked eel. This was very delicate and had just the right amount of eel and smoking. And before the menu started there was another dish of Wagyu Bresaola, which is the best Bresaola that Mr Smith has had, and he has had quite a few good ones before.
Then it was time to start on the menu itself:
Abalone served with a Rose which was full of summer red fruit and was a perfect match for the dish, which itself had so many new and amazing flavours with the local vegetables and succulents.
Next up with a dish of snails. Something that Mr Smith has not always had a great experience with in the past, but this was different. The way it had been prepared provided incredible flavours with hints of aniseed from the herbs, different flavours coming through with every mouthful. The accompanying glass of sherry worked really well, a sip with each mouthful gave even more variety of flavour.
Now for the Blue Eye. Something that Mr Smith has had a couple of times in Australia and loves. This version came with a crayfish sauce which provided a great balance to the dish and amazing aroma, plus the yuzu which gave a great hit of lemon for hat was a delicious fish course.
Then it was time for the Pork Belly, a favourite for Mr Smith. Pork Belly is one of the foods that Mr Smith will try and order when possible, but this has set new standards. The skin was perfect, crisp and crunchy, the meat soft and full of flavour and the apple was just a great way to give a lovely fruity boost to the flavours.
This was followed up by the most undersold dish on the menu, ‘Royal Mail Beef & Onions’. Yes, it was their own beef and was perfectly cooked and with the sauce provided a great rich and intense dish.
After the beef there was a need for a bit of light refreshment, which was provided by the Cucumber & tonic sorbet. Mr Smith is not a fan of tonic and finds it bitter, but this dish worked really well and provided a great palette cleanser.
Before Mr Smith talks about the dessert, it is time to make a special mention to the fruit served at the Royal Mail. Given that the produce they use is local and picked at the prime moment Mr Smith has been ruined in terms of fruit. Things like peach & apricot have never been a favourite in the UK, but now Mr Smith has had them in perfect and prime condition that opinion has been changed. The only problem will be getting the quality again, without going to the source.
This leads on to the desserts, the meringue with peach & fig ice cream. Oh my, it was at this moment that Mr Smith knew what peaches should taste like! Absolutely amazing and if he could get them on a regular basis he would be eating peaches all the time.
This was then followed by a dessert that Mr Smith would not have picked off a menu due to the black forest element, but this was a delicious version and so different to any form of black forest before and the mulberries set things off perfectly.
So that was day 1, or was it? Of course not. The flowers were taken out of the flower pot to reveal a pot full of what looked like soil. The waiter said to dive in as it was chocolate soil with so delightful petit fors buried in it. Messy, but a great way to end, keeping diving back in to the pot to find some more treats.
The breakfasts were equally as good as the evening meals. The muesli was delicious, but the real star from the cold counter was the stewed apricots, oh my, that is how good fresh apricots can be!
The cooked was a perfect way to kick off the day, with the sausage being so meaty and the perfect bacon and on the final morning it was time for the eggs benedict. Worth staying at the hotel just for the breakfast!
So it was now time for day 2. Heading back in to the dining room Mr Smith was looking forward to the five course menu, which would mean a good variety of new dishes to be tried.
The snacks and amuse bouche were the same as the night before, but that was not a problem as they were delicious.
These were followed by the Carrot bavarois with lovage ice cream. The ice cream was amazing on its own, but when paired with the carrot it provided a beautifully balanced dish.
Next up came the flathead with octopus. Mr Smith loves to try fish that he cannot get in the UK and flathead is lovely, especially cooked like this, perfection. The combo of the fish, octopus and rhubarb was incredible.
And now for the Duck and mulberry, this was amazing and Mr Smith instantly thought it was the new favourite dish, which is saying something considering how good the rest had been.
It was now time for the last main course from the 2 days, lamb with miso and eggplant. This was so moist and complex with slight hints of smoke on the lamb with an almost piccalilli taste and the fat in the centre of the lamb was absolutely perfect.
The challenge now for Mr Smith was that the black forest dish was due to be the end of the meal, but without any prompt the waiter came over and suggested changing it as he knew it had been had the night before. I plumped for the apricot soufflé with nasturtium ice cream. The soufflé was perfect, as was the basil ice cream, but the apricot taste blew Mr Smith’s mind. They had been picked from their own trees that morning, you can definitely taste the difference. That was just the best way to end the 2 days of eating.
Was the trip out for the food worth it, oh yes! Would Mr Smith do it again, definitely! The Royal Mail is a great place for a food experience and the fact that they have 2 hats is well deserved.
Mr Smith visited the Royal Mail in January 2016. Further details can be found on the hotels website, www.royalmail.com.au