I dined at the Boathouse by the Lake for the first time a few weekends ago. Friends had given me a gift voucher for my last birthday and it was time to cash it in. With my two gluten intolerant buddies, Mr STTA and Dr L, I made a 6pm reservation noting that we were interested in the degustation ($110 for 7 courses) and two of the guests required gluten free alternatives. Staff were more than happy to accommodate and were glad I’d provided them with some notice. Unfortunately, I picked a grey rainy Saturday for dinner (the Boathouse has such gorgeous views when it’s sunny).
The inside is larger than expected and I could see three separate dining rooms (maybe private functions). We were seated in the main room looking out over the lake with a crackling fireplace next to us. Each table is decorated with an oil burner, white tablecloths, napkins and cutlery.
Once we sat down, staff laid napkins gently on our laps and poured chilled water into our glasses. I was asked whether I wanted to hang my jacket up in the cupboard by the door but I was fine with it hanging on my chair. We were asked whether we wanted any wines, but since none of us drink, we said no. Menus were provided shortly after with both the degustation and four course menu. We were asked if we wanted to wait a little before the degustation was brought out or if we were happy for staff to start bringing our dishes out. Not knowing how long the degustation would take, I thought the latter was acceptable. Let’s begin!
Freshly baked white sourdough bread was brought out for the table. Staff seemed to have forgotten that my two dining companions were gluten intolerant, and were reminded that they couldn’t eat gluten. However a few minutes later, some toasted gluten free bread was brought out for them too. Huzzah.
Course 1 – shaved scallop with tomato tea, pickled celery and fermented cucumber. The scallops were tender and so fresh. This was quite an acidic cold starter with the pickled vegetables being very prominent, but I thought it was a good sharp start to the degustation.
Course 2 – duck liver parfait and fois gras with citrus granola, cherry and stone fruit. I liked the clever substitution of bread with granola and puffed rice. Everyone at the table was quietly busy crunching on this dish. I wasn’t a huge fan of this as I can only handle a tiny bit of duck liver at a time. So I was grateful for the cherry and fruit puree which helped balance out the heaviness of the parfait.
Course 3 – honey and eucalyptus baby carrots with pot set yoghurt, cocoa nib and caraway. I really enjoyed the mixture of ground down cocoa nibs and caraway which I think would complement pretty much anything.
Course 4 – pork cheek with pickled peach, basil and liquorice. The pork was a little crispy on the outside but I wasn’t a big fan as I don’t really like the layered fat that comes with it. However, the liquorice and peach combination with the pork worked brilliantly together.
I think I would’ve preferred the gluten free alternative to course 4 which was the Yellowfin tuna with avocado, mojo and Vietnamese mint. Served in a bowl, this is a large round ball wrapped in tuna sashimi. The others were very happy with it.
Course 5 – carbonised veal loin with tendon puff, baby leek and artichoke. I have no idea what you’d need to do to carbonise meat, but I’m guessing it’s some kind of charring process. It was strange at first, with a burnt charcoal powder exterior but the meat underneath was soft, pink and perfect. I thought there could’ve been a bit more artichoke sauce on the plate as my mouth was starting to get dry but I really did enjoy this dish.
Course 6 – banana mousse with dark chocolate fudge, peanut butter ice cream and marshmallow. This is a perfect dessert of banana textures. The banana mousse was smooth, creamy and delicious covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate. The banana marshmallow was the softest marshmallow I’ve ever had. It was like a heavenly foam cloud with just the right amount of sweetness. The caramelised banana was slightly crunchy and warm. Who doesn’t like sugar melted on banana? Yum. The peanut butter ice cream tied everything together with peanut crumble giving some crunch. Very impressed with this dessert.
Course 7 – burnt strawberry with strawberry cremeaux, coconut sorbet, shortbread and fromage frais. The small square of strawberry cremeaux was beautifully smooth and tasted like a stronger strawberry mousse. The coconut sorbet was luscious. We all could’ve had a few scoops of this for dessert and been satisfied. I loved the soft shards of buttery shortbread which made me think of the dessert as a deconstructed strawberry shortcake. The fromage frais, when mixed in with everything else, helped to balance out all the elements. The gluten free version of this dessert didn’t have the shortbread but I think it was substituted with crispy meringue. This was a fantastic dessert, even better than the banana mousse, to end the night.
Excellent and professional service by all staff at the Boathouse. Knowledgable about the food on the menu without any pretentiousness. Various wait staff came by to refill our water and provide fresh cutlery at the beginning of each course. I was surprised that we only waited about 15 minutes in between each course so it didn’t take long to go through the degustation.
For wine lovers, there is a matched wines option with the degustation for an extra $55. There is also an optional cheese course for an extra $10 served before the two desserts, but we were all too stuffed to try it. I loved visiting the Boathouse and will be returning hopefully on a clear sunny day!
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