Have you ever gone to a formal wedding full of strangers, wondered why everyone is staring at you with odd looks, sometimes of amusement but mainly of disgust, then got home and realized that you maybe should’ve worn a bra under your sky blue polyester cami top?
Ahem Nahhh… Me neither…
My memories of Mount Lofty House date back to almost half my lifetime ago. Back when I was the ripe old age of 18 and a family friend had her tastefully refined garden wedding there.
It was a 40 plus degree day – Obviously not restrictive bra weather – and I was in attendance with my 2 older sisters.
Yes, a gorgeous summertime wedding… But minus the alcohol because she was a Born Again Christian, and like most confusing religions, they seem to think wine is bad even though Jesus allegedly liked to drink it.
Clearly, a wedding without alcohol will leave a cavernous void that requires filling… Enter food.
My sisters and I joined forces with a few other agnostics and formed a tight infidel ring.
We sucked in the waiters from all around us like a whirlpool, and managed to consume a majority share of the canapés circulating throughout the room.
At first I believed our dirty crumb circle on the carpet and heathen food hogging were the source of our derelict status. That is, until I returned home to find out I’d left my headlights on high beam all day.
Oh, the humanity!
Anyhoo, reflecting on that somewhat riotous event, this is what I remember – And you can trust my memories, because I was stone cold sober…
The canapés were delicious.
It was most notably to me, the first time I ever ate the finger sandwich combination of Smoked Salmon, Egg and Dijon Mustard. And yes, I know it now seems like a pretty beige flavour combo, but this was 17 years ago, and truthfully, some things just taste so damn good no matter how boring they are… Porridge anyone?
Even more delicious was the scenery.
The lawns and grounds of Mount Lofty House are spectacular. Lush and green even in summertime, with rolling hills and the smell of flowers perfuming the air. I recall making our entrance, oohing and ahhing amongst ourselves at the epic natural beauty around us and the gorgeous stately manor.
Fast forward to last year, when I had cause to return once again.
Although this time it was night so I couldn’t admire the extraordinary view, and I was obviously much older (and wiser about the importance of a sturdy brassiere), I was once again at a large catered gathering.
I wondered if the food would still be good after all these years, especially as a sit down affair rather than share plates… And happily, the answer was yes.
I was served the chicken for main, and was truly blown away by how moist and perfect it was. I returned home that evening feeling pretty chuffed about my meal, especially considering I routinely order vegetarian options at sizable events to avoid the obligatory overcooked meat disappointment.
So, driving back to Mount Lofty House last week with Cory on our Land of the Long Lunch trail, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were only all about functon dining, or could the Piccadilly restaurant also hold its own in the À la carte stakes?
I was about to find out.
Even in the dark of night, you can still make out the brilliant grounds and gardens. I would recommend arriving and dining before the sun goes down to really appreciate the beauty of this heritage hills property. Or better yet, stay the night in one of their well appointed rooms and admire it in the morning over one of the Piccadilly restaurants fantastic coffees – Mandeep, you’re a barista rock star.
What I found interesting was the style of food on their menu. It was hearty, wintery goodness.
Not what I was expecting at all.
When we later spoke to Executive Chef Girard Ramsay, he explained the menu is changed 2 to 3 times a year and always with the seasons – being winter right now, he’s rolling with a comfort vibe.
He described it as Contemporary Modern Australian, which is fitting as the menu choices have soul from places as diverse as England, Asia and Argentina.
Covering all corners of the globe, it’s a multicutural melting pot.
I also found interesting Girard’s take on things.
After our tasty little starter of Turkish bread with Coriole EVO, house made Dukkah and Eggplant dip, we were then presented with Cory’s entrée of Harris Smokehouse Smoked Kingfish, yuzu, pear, cucumber and toasted sesame, black garlic mayonnaise. We envisioned this dish as a cold smoked sashimi, but it surprisingly came out more like a French rillettes Japanese fusion.
My entrée of Pork terrine, sourdough toast, ‘Mount Lofty House heritage pickled quinces from our orchard’, cornichons, bitter greens, mustard dressing was unsurprisingly exactly as the name suggests (Girard, you had me at heritage pickled quinces from our orchard), a very well made and super delicious terrine.
Cory had food envy, in his words “Mine’s yummy, but I want your meatloaf”.
Girard also later told us, he’s a mad keen sucker for charcuterie, which is apparent since he does it so well.
For main Cory had the 400g MSA Rib Eye with blue cheese. An absolutely stellar piece of meat – sooo tender, and the melted blue mingling with those rich steak juices, was quite simply, plate lickingly awesome.
I had the Braised lamb shank, pearl cous cous, green olives, Barossa smoked bacon with preserved lemon and garlic yoghurt sauce, warrigal greens.
Although this was a lovely dish, it was now my turn to get a little green eyed.
The lamb was beautifully cooked, tender with a crispy roasted crust and the yoghurt sauce was tangy and moreish, cutting through the richness perfectly. Pearl cous cous is always a winner for me, although the smoky bacon flavour was a little too subtle for my palate (Bacon, is my salty King) and sadly I couldn’t find my warrigal greens, which was a shame because they had sealed the deal when I was making my choice for main. I had excitedly imagined them proudly holding down the fort, like a little green army on the plate.
However, any sadness I felt, quickly dissipated as soon as I sunk my teeth into our sides of Rosemary Roast potatoes with aioli and Brocollini with roast almonds and Manchego sauce.
Deee-freakin-lish. That is all.
For dessert, upon Girard’s recommendation, we chose the Chocolate Pudding and Crème Brûlée.
And, I’m truly glad we were smart enough to listen to him, because they were both decidedly delectable.
The molten dark chocolate pudding with peanut butter snow, hazelnut gelato and malted milk chocolate sauce… Sing it with me kids “Who could ask for anythingggg more?” teamed up with its equally delicious sidekick, butterscotch schnapps crème brûlée, port macerated hills dried plums, macadamia and sea salt caramel popcorn. Yeah Boi!
Such a decadent way to finish ourelves and this fine dining, winter comfort off. At this point I also started considering the benefits of wearing Pajamajeans…
Note to everyone: If you ever see me in Pajamajeans, you will know that an intergalactic alien has killed me and is now wearing my skin as a disguise. Call the authorities.
So dear friends, I feel it’s now time for us to ponder the age old question…
Can an establishment that is known for, and largely caters to a function crowd, be just as worth the drive if it’s for an intimate leisurely long lunch for only two or a few?
And the answer is, Yes.
Bra: optional. Hills wines: gospel. Excellent food: undeniable.
Until we dine again… xxx
For more information about Mount Lofty House dining and their awesome 5* accommdation, please go to the following link; http://www.mtloftyhouse.com.au/