I loved everything about my visit to Mandoon Estate. The weather was perfect which just showcased what a sensational new venue it is. Then there was the service, which was incredibly friendly and also well versed as to any intricacies of the menu. The two wines we sampled – the Reserve Sparkling and the Reserve Chardonnay were so memorable that we may have called past the cellar door after lunch to grab a bottle of each. And then there was the food, probably best to get comfortable here because I am really going to wax lyrical.
It was a leisurely Friday when GG and I headed to Mandoon Estate for an outing as part of our four day New Year’s looong weekend. We had booked in at the restaurant and were shown to a table overlooking all the action spilling onto the lawn and there was a solid crowd taking advantage of all the outdoor facilities. Now at Mandoon they also have the Homestead Brewery on site and you can buy food and drinks from there and enjoy it in their dining area or outside under the trees. It was all a bit lovely, though I was pleased that I was in the restaurant for my debut visit. We looked over the menu and very lavishly decided we would go with the 7 course tasting menu. Ooo la la. Seven courses on a Friday! I love it and I love that GG is as passionate a foodie as I am and up for such degustation adventures.
Beetroot Carpaccio, Orange, Goats Curd, Walnut Powder
Yabbie, Sea Grapes, Bonito, Beach Bananas
Glacier 51 toothfish chorizo, kipfler potato, chimmi churri, corriander
White Rocks veal tartare, capers, cornichons, sourdough
Seared duck breast, floss, egg, anise, pea, asparagus gf
Cherries, Manhattan jelly, roast almond icecream
Cluizel chocolate pudding, mint chocolate, pine nut cannoli, ganache
We were brought out some freshly baked bread to start and indulgently spreadable butter that had been sprinkled with a little salt, just as we like it.
Before too long an Amuse Bouche arrived. An elegant shot glass filled with a vibrant green liquid, which I believe was a lettuce gazpacho. It was then topped with a leaf and a piece of marron was balanced carefully on top. We crunched on the leaf first and savoured the sweet marron before having a go at the gazpacho. When I heard lettuce as the flavour I assumed it may potentially be a little bland but that was clearly a gazpacho rookie mistake. It had huge flavours and an interesting lingering heat. It was a little glass of deliciousness and it further upped the excitement stakes for what I was sure was going to be a brilliant lunch.
The first official course was the beetroot carpaccio and it looked pretty as a picture with the thin slices of vibrant beetroot, a few slices of sweet citrus, a sprinkle of goats curd and a dusting of walnut powder. Those relatively simple ingredients combined to create an entirely enticing mouthful. It was bliss. Eating beautifully plated and delicious food is bliss.
There were then two seafood courses. First up was yabbie, which came served with two ingredients I’d never tried before or heard of if I’m honest – sea grapes and beach bananas. Both had fairly understated but interesting flavours and added something texture whether it was the crunch from the bananas or the pop pop from the sea grapes. It was a dish where ensuring you had all the elements in one forkful made for a really flavoursome and complex bite. And the yabbie itself was sweet and delicious. I have to say though that of the two seafood dishes it was hard to go past the Glacier 51 Toothfish as the favourite.
The Ol’ Toothfish seems to be the pin up fish of late and when you taste it, it isn’t hard to see why. The skin had been perfectly crisped and the actual fish itself just melted in your mouth. It also paired beautifully with the spicy chorizo and the statement disk of kipfler, which if you used your imagination slightly could be considered a chip, so this was like the fanciest fish and chips I’d ever had. It is nice to be fancy.
Moving on, it was time for some White Rocks Veal. If you haven’t before then give the story of White Rocks a read. They are a great bunch and produce delicious veal. I’d never had it served in a tartare style before but it worked a treat! The three neat little stacks were brimming with flavour, with a pleasing saltiness from the cornichon and some interesting tang from the lemon gel. Having the sourdough served slightly charred further enhanced the flavour profile and with our one slice each made for a high tartare to bread ratio, which I loved. I actually thought it was fairly bold to have a bread course smack bang in the middle of a dego, when portion size and ensuring folks can finish is a key consideration. I was feeling surprising comfortable at this point though and confident I could make it to the finish line. Ahh the degustation, I always have to remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. A delicious, wonderful marathon.
The final savoury offering was duck. It was a real vision when it appeared and as much as the piece of perfectly pink duck breast looked entirely appetizing, it was the accompanying duck egg that stole focus. It was just amazing. Dusted in a dramatic green, it had been lovingly slow cooked to this really smooth consistency. And the yolk in the centre was still soft but it didn’t spill onto the plate when you cut it like a normal runny yolk. Clearly some culinary magic was involved, but the egg and the duck, either in breast form or as the crunchy floss, made for a cracker of a dish.
And now it was time for two desserts. I love eating a meal that involves two desserts because it’s just so lavish and I love dessert! But before proceeding to sweets we paused to refresh our palettes with an entirely delightful rum and raspberry sorbet. Chilly, zappy flavours – colour me refreshed!
The first dessert was cherry inspired and my goodness it was pretty! I really think all cherries should be dipped in gold, it just looks so lovely. We both loved this dish, the right balance of sweetness and creaminess and we were thoroughly looking forward to the final course.
An elegant chocolate pudding appeared, which oozed molten chocolate goodness onto your plate when you sliced through it. Chocolate fans rejoice because it was pure heaven! And to up the yum stakes further (which I wouldn’t have even thought was possible) they included a ball of choc mint ice-cream. It was so fabulously minty and a real fresh minty. A little of the ice-cream and some of the warm gooey chocolate cake was the most inspired finale to this feast. And it had been a feast, but as with all the best degos we weren’t bursting at the seams. We were that quite full, entirely content balance that can be so tricky to achieve with seven courses.
It had been an amazing lunch and I would highly recommend everyone head along for a visit. You don’t have to do seven courses, they also offer a five course menu and al a carte or you can head to the nearby brewery and wander with your tray to eat under the trees. All the food I saw go out on trays looked very tasty. It is clearly a hugely popular venue for families given all that outdoor space for the kids to run around. But hey it is also perfect for a fancy lunch for two, so it is ticking a lot of boxes.
Thanks Mandoon for an incredible lunch. I’m entirely smitten.