Red Hill South, VIC 3937
Ph: 5989 2326
This post is part of my Mornington Peninsula weekend courtesy of Mornington Peninsula Tourism and Q Strategies. Check out the other posts here:
-Red Hill Estate and Max's Restaurant
-Peninsula Hot Springs
-Red Hill Brewery
-Linden Tree Restaurant and Lindenderry Hotel
Fresh from my relaxing hot spring soak, it was off to meet Michele for dinner. Our dining destination was to be The Long Table, owned and run by head chef Andrew Doughton and wife Samantha Fitzgerald. Sam and Andrew have been running the restaurant for nearly 9 years, having moved from the smaller location across the road to their current location. Sam is a native of the Mornington Peninsula area while Andrew also grew up there, moved to the city, and then came back.
The restaurant is quite a large space, with about 4 separate dining spaces. This was in part due to the existing fitout of building, but Sam and Andrew decided to keep it that way as it helps provide some more intimate spaces and break up the noise. I actually really love the layout as it has that "secret garden" type feel where you can see half into the next room but don't fully know what lies around the corner. We were seated at the best table in the third back space. The table was huge, had wonderful bench seating with soft cushions and a view outside the window. We were served all night by Sam and a couple of other wait staff. All did an excellent job and the service in the whole restaurant was smooth, friendly and efficient.
Sam suggested that we could do a tasting of various dishes and we all jumped at that as we all wanted to try everything. We started off with
*Cured kingfish, black bean caramel, cucumber and cumquat
*Smoked eel, horseradish cream and borsch jelly
The cured kingfish was sensational already, but when the sauce was added and eaten with the cucumber and cumquat, what a taste explosion. I love oysters so definitely had no problems eating them. I forget the variety that we had, but it had a much stronger pronounced sea flavour than your usual oyster. Finally, the smoked eel was again excellent, pairing well with the jelly and horseradish.
*Marinated razor clams, scallop, apple, wakame and buttermilk
I was looking forward the most to the razor clams. It's not often that you see razor clams on the menu in Australia, so I was super excited. But I had over indulged at lunch and was so full that I could hardly eat at all. Everyone had to encourage me to eat tiny bits of each dish to taste it. Well, I did eat about half this dish and it was sublime. The clams were soft and had a light flavour, mixing well with the apple. The scallop was pan fried perfectly and combined so well with the clams.
*Red Hill pine mushrooms, nashi pear, black garlic and cedar.
This dish of mushrooms was really wonderful. The mushrooms are picked fresh each day and cooked perfectly to maintain maximum flavour and texture. The pear helps to lighten and sweeten the dish, while the black garlic had a nice kick. Everyone though, was absolutely in love with the cedar. It's like a meringue but infused with the taste of cedar. Sam tells us that they use an essential oil reduction to get that wonderful cedar flavour.
*Quince glazed duck, baby turnips, shimeji mushrooms and Pedro Ximinez soaked prunes
By this stage of the meal, I was starting to not feel as full so pretty much finished this dish. While the pan fried piece of duck was good, the cured one was amazing. I also adored the Pedro Ximinez soaked prunes and the truffle snow on the dish.
*Elderflower and buttermilk cream, rhubarb, coconut and white chocolate
As full as I was all meal, I literally inhaled this dessert. It was freaking amazing. Who knew that cream could taste so good. The elderflower gave a beautiful accent to the cream, while there was bite from the buttermilk. The coconut meringue mixed with the white chocolate gave that beautiful Raffaello flavour as Visal noted. Lastly, the sourness of the rhubarb cut through everything. It also made the dessert look amazing. Just look how beautiful the white on white looks with a touch of purple.
Sam and Andrew were nice enough to talk to us about their philosophy on cooking and explain their journey with the restaurant. I have to say that I've eaten at a lot of hatted restaurants in Melbourne and The Long Table sits comfortably amongst the one and two hatter restaurants. The food is delicate, fresh and full of flavour as Andrew wants. He wants to use local produce, but also to give it a level of complexity that country restaurants are slowly adopting, as they realise that diners palettes are improving and accepting of these more complex flavours. Andrew is one of the early adopters and has been cooking more complex food with fresh ingredients, and of late he has found more and more customers wanting that type of food.
The ambiance in the restaurant was excellent on the Saturday night. It had a great vibe and yet felt relaxed and comfortable. The service was excellent and warm and the food was sensational. I will definitely be going back for another meal when I'm less full and can eat everything. The price of $65 for the tasting menu is such good value for a restaurant that is on par with places that charge 2-3 times that price in Melbourne. When you think that The Long Table is not that far away from Melbourne, it's worth the drive even just for a Saturday night dinner. Do yourself a favour and go visit it, you won't regret it.
I dine courtesy of The Long Table while my guest was a full paying diner.