The Larder, Miramar
UPDATE: The Larder no longer does dinners, so you’ll have to get your fix during the daytime (other than the odd degustation/speciality event).
The Larder. Finally I am getting around to going there. High expectations, lots of good things written and heard. An interesting article in the October-November Dish magazine about Jacob Brown’s penchant for offal, nose to tail eating, and eyeballing the animals before they are turned into his ingredients. And a 2011 Cuisine Restaurant of the Year nomination.
So what did we find? A very busy restaurant (it was Saturday night), excellent service (friendly, professional and unobtrusive) and really very good food. Among a group of five we got to try out a fair range of the meals on offer, and there wasn’t one mis-step in terms of quality, taste and presentation.
The pigs head entree was probably the most interesting choice and turned out to be braised cheek rolled and presented in pastry tubes. Although it was officially an entree, Jacob accommodatingly turned it into a main size with lentils and other bits and pieces for our friend. Not being a huge fan of offal, I nevertheless had a taste of the accompanying piece of liver and it was melt-in-the-mouth sublime. Two mouthfuls next time (see, who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks….).
Between us we enjoyed lovely fresh bread handmade on site (one could buy a loaf to take home for breakfast too if one desired), a complementary amuse bouche of asparagus soup with a touch of white truffle oil charmingly served in tiny white cups and saucers, calamari, goat cheese souffle, duck, pork belly and bluenose.
The only complaint I have is that some of the main portion sizes really needed a little more of the starch and vegetable provided as part of the dish (as opposed to the side extras which aren’t part of the chef-designed intention of the dish I wish to experience). A couple of small forkfuls of savoy cabbage and wafer thin potato dauphinoise with the half dozen slices of duck breast was a bit lacking for $38 I felt.
Some of us had perused the dessert menu early on and decided a definite sweet experience to conclude, and so the others caved and joined us as well. Again, beautifully presented, flavoured, textured, and generously sized. Richness-wise actually almost overshadowing the earlier taste sensations for me (but I am a possibly a bit weird in wanting balance and compliment throughout a dining experience). I had a caramel parfait with honeycomb and very complimentary accompaniments like brandy grilled banana and tiny squares of jelly (can you tell I forgot to take my notebook to make a few unobtrusive notes or take home a copy of the menu?), while the others all went for a vanilla creme brulee with ginger ice cream.
So you do need to go there expecting to eat a full three courses, and take a good sized wallet along. It is a whole evening’s dining experience, so definitely worth it for a special occasion. And vegetarians, notify ahead at the time of booking as they don’t have standard vegetarian options, but will create for you.