I attended a bloggers diner courtesy of Media Moguls and dined at No. 8 by John Lawson recently. Whenever I heard John Lawson, I kept thinking of Josh Lawson, the comedian/actor. I nearly called chef the wrong name a few times. Chef John Lawson has an impressive resume of his own. He also cracked a few jokes, so maybe John has a future career in comedy should he give up cooking? For now, John has helped reinvent No. 8 from a very formal fine dining venue to a more relaxed venue focusing on local produce. A number of produce used in the restaurant are unique and therefore provides some different flavours.
We started with meal with the aforementioned bread, a Potato, Honey & Rosemary Bread served with Seaweed Butter. Everyone, including myself, loved the bread but it seemed Michele and Caryn from Media Moguls are infatuated with the bread. They couldn't get enough of it and encouraging each other to eat more of it the whole night. I had to give my free loaf at the end of the night to Michele as I didn't want to stand in between such a strong love.
For entrees, a Flowerdale Farm spring salad was pretty good (but I still maintain that you don't win friends with salad) with a mushroom that tasted like almonds. A very unique flavour. For me, the Portland black and blue (a play on words with one side seared and hence black) tuna with black garlic, yuzu and soy was super delicious. Fresh, light and really exciting flavour.
For mains, a Barwon River lamb shoulder cooked for 12 hours and a Milawa duck breast were given as options. Obviously as food bloggers, we quickly formed teams and ordered both dishes so we can try everything. I like the texture of the lamb but I thought it lacked a bit of flavour for me. I also didn't like the pairing with the sheep's yoghurt. I found the sourness of the yoghurt didn't work with the lamb. The Milawa duck used is again unique to No. 8 and it did indeed have a really different, more gamey, flavour that I loved. The shallot puree worked perfectly with this dish.
As you know, I was most excited by dessert. Again, we picked different dishes to share. The Yoghurt and Honey Mousse with fruits was very refreshing and I can see being a winner during the hotter months. But for me, give me the Banana Split any day. A beautifully caramelised banana with rum caramel and hazelnut mousse was so amazing. I could eat three of these easily by myself as it was so good.
We had matched wines throughout the night from local Victorian wineries. I'm already a fan of Victorian wines so loved all the wines that were served, from Rieslings to Pinot Noirs.
Overall, I found the food good and the focus on local produce a winner. The advantage of serving some unique items that other restaurants don't have is a drawcard. Price wise, I would say the price is at the lower end of fine dining prices. You do get a the service, atmosphere and food to match the prices. Having said that, it is something that I would treat myself to occasionally rather than be somewhere I would go to often due to the prices.
With Good Food Month coming up, there are some events happening at No. 8 so this might be the ideal time to check them out. Go here to get the full details..
I dined courtesy of No. 8