Have you ever been to a restaurant and looked over the menu and faced a massive dilemma about what to choose because there are so many delicious sounding options available? What if you didn’t have to? What if someone said “Well instead of choosing how about you get to try every entrée and every main we have, plus a few sides?” Would be pretty amazing wouldn’t it. Such was the opportunity that was presented to me when I was very privileged to be invited to join in the staff tasting of the new menu at Mosmans Restaurant. It seriously felt like all my Christmases had come at once and I set off, with GG in tow, so that we could both experience the magic of what it was like to try everything on the menu.
While Mosmans is open for dinner on Mondays, they only take group bookings on this day, and they had cleared the calendar for this event and there were two tables set up. One for all the staff and another one where GG and I sat, along with the owner and a few other fortunate attendees. The atmosphere was delightfully casual and friendly. Some choice bottles of vino, both red and white, were set up on each table and you could help yourself to a glass.
The new menu, which launches on Monday February 25th, has been created by newly appointed Head Chef, Paul Zammit. I first met Chef Paul in his previous role at Llama Bar. I had fond memories of the food there and felt pleased about the opportunity to revisit his culinary creativity.
We were given the menu and notes that were provided to the staff, which gave us an indication of the different dishes we would be trying. It was an extensive list. Seven entrees and seven mains. Now we were sharing them between us, but still, quite the range.
First off we were brought some beautiful freshly baked bread. There was sliced French baguette,delicious olive rolls and a sliced up Gluten Free loaf. Served with the bread was Cooladerra Virgin Oil and beetroot balsamic, some butter and two types of salt. One was a more frequently seen flaked white salt, but there was also some black salt from Cyprus. It was a nice contrast sprinkled on top of the butter and had an intensely salty taste. I’m a salt fan so I was definitely on board. I was curious as to how it gets its black colour. A quick google suggests that it is blended and coloured with activated charcoal. The perfect decorative sprinkle for bread.
The first official entrée arrived and it looked delicious. Chef Paul came around and described each dish to us and outlined the different ingredients. Tuna Sashimi, coconut labneh, wakame, chilli oil. The tuna melted in your mouth and while I couldn’t taste an overly strong coconut flavour in the labne (a cheese made from yoghurt) it was wonderfully creamy nonetheless and was a nice pairing, along with the wakame, which is a type of seaweed. Proceedings had definitely started on a high note and there were a lot of appreciative murmurings around the table.
Another seafood entrée followed. Ginger cured trout, wasabi sorbet, dill preserved red onions. The colours really popped on this plate! We were told that the wasabi granita is actually meant to be more of a wasabi sorbet but some equipment issues had meant they had improvised. The combination of flavours was magic. The delicate trout, the sweetness from the onion, the chilly element from the granita that left your mouth with some lingering heat from the wasabi – it all worked and the battle for favourite entrée was on!
I am a massive duck fan. Cooked well, it is delicious and this dish really showcased the magic of duck. Smoked duck breast, macadamia nuts, peach, witlof. There was a strong smoky flavour to the duck pieces that was well countered with the sweetness from the fresh peach slices and also a pleasant textural crunch from the macadamias. I haven’t often eaten duck cold either, so it was nice to try it prepared this way. It was still slightly pink and not dry, which had been my one worry about a cold duck dish. I need not have worried.
Something for the vegetarians now (which admittedly none at our table were). Green tomatoes, goats curd, herb salad, fennel flatbread. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a green tomato, not that I can recall at least. The crisp bread was sprinkled with fennel seeds and made in house I believe. A little of the cracker along with the indulgently creamy goats cheese and topped with some of the tomato was pleasant. Very hard to compare it to the first three dishes though. I almost felt like I missed the meat element. I could see it as being an excellent side though and I doubt a vegetarian would share the shame chagrin as I at the lack of animal on their plate. I felt I would prefer this dish as a side as opposed to a starter.
And on we marched with entrees and the salute to seafood returned. I’ve always thought of Mosmans as a restaurant that was renowned for a very solid showing on the seafood front so I was pleased to see that it continued to feature prominently in the new menu. Prawn and Snapper Sang Choy Bow. This dish was entirely delicious, but I’m not the best at hand foods. Often end up wearing them. But I carefully balanced a spoonful of the fragrant snapper, prawn and vegetable mix into my lettuce leaf and chowed down. The flavours were really delicious and there’s something light and refreshing about packaging all these ingredients into a lettuce leaf. Very fresh and tasty offering.
Another sea dweller made its way to our plate next. A many legged creature. Octopus Terrine, capers, mandarin oil, toast, onion whip. The last time I had eaten octopus it was a fairly terrible experience, so it was with some trepidation that I sampled this dish. Again, my fears were unwarranted. This modern take on a terrine had carefully prepared the octopus into tender pieces and it actually had a really delicate flavour to it. No overpowering seafood taste to it at all. It came with a slice of crisp bread that was smeared with an onion whip. I thought the onion did well to enhance the flavour on this dish, I quite like onion, but I don’t think I am a massive octopus fan so I would favour another seafood starter over this one.
The last entrée was a beautiful beef Carpaccio, served with a poached egg and a potato foam. There were also some strategically placed dots of truffle oil. Ahh the heady smell of truffles, always a treat. I had found it peculiar that Chef Paul seemed to keep his distance from the table when this dish arrived. As I learnt from the notes provided he has a pretty serious allergy to truffle oil so keeping a wide berth from the plates was a safety requirement. We wanted to help him out so we wolfed this delicious dish down in record time. A very strong potato taste in the foam and the beautiful indulgent running yolk, along with the melt in your mouth, paper thin Carpaccio, it was a really delicious blend.
Wow – 7 entrees in and perhaps team taster was slightly daunted (though entirely excited!) by the 7 mains that lay ahead. An Aussie favourite arrived first – lamb. Amelia Park lamb crepinette, corn croquettes, spiced cauliflower. It definitely looked interesting and as we cut it into shareable pieces we could see that it did combine the cutlet along with some minced lamb and mushroom duxelle. It. Was. Amazing. The rich flavours from the duxelle along with the lamby goodness of the lamb. Each bite was a pleasure. Further enhancing my appreciation of this plate were the little béchamel and sweetcorn croquettes. Yum!! Bit of croquette, bit of lamb, a dainty cauliflower floret – happiness. One of my favourite dishes of the night.
Sticking with red meat, up next was steak. Beef sirloin, leek and potato terrine, pea salad, chimichurri butter. It plated up well with the potato and leek stack and the bright green from the snow peas, which came in regular snow pea form, puree and even a few pretty tendrils. The meat was cooked to perfection and really tasted delicious, particularly with the chimichurri butter than was melted all over it, all kinds of good right there! I thought including leek in the potato stack added a wonderful flavour through it and paired well with the sweetness from the snow peas. As sides to a steak go, I thought both worked really well.
One of the sides arrived at this point – Beetroot, beans, almonds, sumac yoghurt, mint. The beetroot was sweet, the green beans were blanched to crunchy perfection, it was probably only the sumac yoghurt that I wasn’t a massive fan of, but that’s probably because I don’t generally eat yoghurt.
We powered on and switched our attention to the other white meat. That’s right, from bovine to swine. Pork loin, jamon, scallops, crackling, hot and sour pineapple. It was an incredibly generous slice of pork that arrived, along with three plump Esperance scallops which were carefully placed on top of potatoes. The scallops were sweet and amazing and were well aligned with the pork. I perhaps had a Manu Fiedel moment at this point and did ponder, “Where’s the sauce?”, mainly just given the size of the piece of pork and not because of any dry meat issues. There was some of the hot and sour pineapple sauce drizzled on the plate, but I had just wished for a little more was all. We also found out that pork crackle was meant to be included on this dish. No worries though because they brought out a bowl with pieces for us to sample. I love pork crackling and there was the sound of loud, happy crunching around the table.
On the downhill slide to the finish line it was time to turn our attention back to the sea. First up was a classic – Fish and Chips. Along with this dish came Chef Paul’s special jolt sauce. It was very tasty, but we were told it had been toned down on the chilli front to appeal to the delicate palates of the masses. The garlic in it probably shone through more, but it was very tasty nonetheless. The first test was the chips. They were really good chips. Crispy and well-seasoned. Similarly the fish (gold band snapper I believe) was also delicious. The numerous pieces were coated in a light batter, which included dill, which served to jazz up the flavour. I thought including the generous wedge of iceberg was also a good call. Meant the dish could be finished on a refreshing front.
Barramundi arrived next (and I was a bit slow in taking this photo – someone had already launched in). Barramundi, pumpkin, lime, turmeric, coriander salad. I thought it plated really well. The bright yellow from the turmeric and cubed pumpkin, with a decent sized piece of barra and topped with some rocket. I’m definitely pro fish now. Or I should say I’m pro good fish. And this was very good fish. I thought the sweetness of the pumpkin worked well with the fish, along with the slightly bitter greens. Fish fans would not be disappointed.
We sampled another side at this point, Broccolini, harissa, dates, pinenuts. They know how to cook their greens at Mosmans. Plenty of life still in them. I particularly like that it was served on Chef Paul’s very tasty harissa and sprinkled with some pinenuts. Nice!
A bowl of chips also appeared on the table. Dill salted hand cut chips, chilli jam. I had nearly maxed out on chips but we were encouraged to at least have another and to sample the accompanying relish. I was glad I was. I enjoyed the sweet, rich flavour of the chilli jam. Glad I gave it a go and found room for a little extra potato.
Last on our list of mains had prawns as the star. Split grilled prawns, preserved lemon, eggplant salad. Big, fat prawns, beautifully butterflied and cooked to perfection. The sweet prawn married well with the eggplant salad. While the eggplant mixture was flavoursome, the dish really allowed the prawns to be the star, with a minimum of added seasoning and just the magic of the prawn shining through. I only wish I could have eaten more, but sadly I had scarce little room left after such an epic tasting session.
And almost as if to further test the boundaries of our struggling stomachs a dish that was not on the menu arrived for us to sample. It was a pasta dish. Beautiful freshly rolled pasta, filled with bright beetroot and decoratively topped with capers and a splash of olive oil. It balanced sweet with salty, with a slight slant towards the salty and the divine wonder of fresh pasta. How good is it? Why don’t I make it at home more often!
What an evening. Entirely incredible, as plate after amazing plate of beautiful food had arrived for us to try. I am incredibly grateful to Chef Paul and the whole Mosmans team for inviting GG and I along. The setting was beautiful, the company a delight and I applaud the food. I’ve no doubt the new menu will be a crowd pleaser with the wide range of impressive choices on offer.