Once we decided to get back to the blog, we knew that we would have to kick off the new site with something special. And what better place to start than with Brae, one of the top restaurants in Australia? We had the pleasure of dining at Brae during their winter menu, and the meal was unlike anything either of us has ever experienced. As to be expected, the service was impeccable- the surprise was that it was also friendly, approachable and not at all intimidating. And then there was the food. So. Much. FOOD. We started out with an assortment of finger food- I absolutely loved the fact that such a revered and fabulous meal kicked off with food that forced you to eat with your hands! It absolutely brought the experience back down to earth, and injected a bit of fun for us all. Oh, and in case you were wondering…it was all ridiculously tasty. Smoked eel sandwiched between crisped potatoes, mushrooms stuffed with eggplant, rice paper and fish, and a pretzel covered in powdered beef tendon for Alex and our dining companions, and one covered in vegetable salt for me.
Beyond everything being amazing, one of the biggest takeaways for me was how Brae challenged the boundaries of food- and nothing was quite as challenging as their iced oyster. The oysters came out on a beautiful platter topped with rocks- it took us several moments to even find them, as they were disguised as little mossy rocks! In his schpeel, the waiter told us not to take it all at once, which was a surprise that led each of us to cautiously prod our ‘moss’ covered oysters, only to discover…ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly…it was an oyster shell full of oyster flavoured ice cream, topped with green tea powder. It was easily the most bizarre thing that I had ever eaten, and I had to mentally ready myself before each bite, yet it was also strangely enjoyable? Like I said, challenging stuff. We were also absolutely blown away by a cured mackerel and green apple dish- the mackerel alone was incredibly fishy, yet the moment you had a bite of it with the green apple, all fishiness disappeared and it became a beautifully fresh, tart and balanced dish. It was a very eye opening plate, simply in terms of how much ingredients can influence and change one another.
Every single dish that we had was fabulous, yet there were two standouts for me. The first was the chicken and crispy kale- the ‘chicken’ was shards of crisped chicken skin, paired with crunchy kale and ricotta…literally a few of my favourite things. The second standout dish was everyone’s favourite of the night- the parsnip and apple dessert. Upon arriving, it appeared to be a deep fried parsnip, surrounded by apple in various forms- dehydrated, in a cream etc. However, if Brae had shown us anything, it was that looks can be deceiving- the parsnip was actually a crisped up parsnip shell, filled with a rich, apple cream. Simply amazing, and to top it off, the dessert truly did look like a winter wonderland.
Brae was an unbelievable experience, with the food and service both surpassing our (extremely high) expectations. As we exited, full to the brim with excellent food and wine, we were sent off into the night as old friends by the staff, with the promise of being back for the summer menu. And I so do hope that it is a promise we can keep.
rice paper, roe, salmon
crisped potato and eel sandwich, burnt pork treacle pretzels
shiitake and charred eggplant
prawn, finger lime and nasturtium
mackerel, apple, wild greens
crayfish, burnt potatoes, roe, milk and mustard
warm ricotta, chicken, brassicas and nettle
hapuku, walnut and butter braised turnip
eggplant, wild flowers and puffed quinoa
aged duck, quandong and dried liver
wild mushrooms and wagyu, buckwheat and black garlic
quince simmered with onions, honey and cultured milk
parsnip and apple
rhubarb, pistachio, blood and preserved blackberry