Once in a while H has an urgent need to get out of the city. The last time was March labour day weekend. We had a great day at the red hill wineries then spent the night fighting back flood waters!
A few weeks ago H felt the urge again and suggested we head to the Bellarine Peninsula to have lunch at Loam in Drysdale - a restaurant that has been receiving a lot of good press lately. Our booking was made quite last minute and we were really lucky to secure a table in the dining room.
Loam is run by chef and owner Aaron Turner and his wife Astrid. It is a small, intimate dining room overlooking the Lighthouse Olive Grove and Queenscliff. Once we were seated we were presented with a list of in season produce, asked if there was anything we didn't eat and how many courses we would like. We went all out and asked for seven courses (for $90.00, two and four course options also available). In the end we were presented with nine courses - it helps to be in the industry! That same day there were staff from Attica and Pearl also enjoying a coastal Sunday. I think it was just the following Sunday that the entire Attica staff descended on Loam (one of the waitresses is the girlfriend of one of the chefs who works with H so I heard all about it last weekend at the winery).
We were there for five hours, a long, luxurious lunch presented to us by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Astrid was a wonderful hostess and it was lovely to chat to her while H checked out the kitchen and picked Aaron's brain for a moment.
At the end of the meal we were presented with a print out of our courses. Looking around us other tables received different dishes so it was wonderful to be able to remember exactly what we ate...so here's the blow by blow:
1. HEN'S EGG, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, BREAD CRUMBS, MISO - perfectly slow cooked egg, creamy artichoke, crunchy bread crumbs and salty miso broth made this rich dish a perfect start to our epic lunch.
2. PINE MUSHROOM, GARDEN SILVERBEAT, PINE NEEDLE YOGHURT - This was one of my favourites. Perfectly seasoned mushrooms with the tart yoghurt. Just yummy!
3. KINGFISH, PINK GRAPEFRUIT, WILD RICE, PONZU - very impressed with the ponzu noodle!
4. SAND CRAB, HORSERADISH, NASHI, CAULIFLOWER - I could have done without the cauliflower on this one but by no means did I dislike it.
5. SOUSED SNAPPER, CUCUMBER, SEAWATER CHEESE, MUSSEL - This was to die for. Beautifully cooked snapper. Fresh flavours of the sea, just the sort of thing I like!
6. BEEF TONGUE, GARLIC, HEIRLOOM TOMATO, QUINOA - Believe it or not I had never eaten tongue before. It sort of freaks me out. I think it's the whole 'it's tasting me while I'm tasting it' thing BUT it was heaven. H was bowled over by this one. the tongue was like the most tender beef I had ever tasted. drooooool.
7. VEAL RUMP, SPINACH, PEARL ONION, WAKAME, BLACK GARLIC - I'm not sure about the whole black garlic thing. H is a big fan but I'm not so sure! Having said that this dish was another winner.
8. OSSAU IRATY - RUBBLE - The cheese course, a very interesting version. Great cheese.
9. MANDARIN PEEL, COCONUT, ALMOND, OLIVE OIL - Loved the mandarin peel sorbet but the coconut cream and olive oil powder gave the dessert a slight fattiness that was mildly unappealing.
Overall Aaron and Astrid have something very special here and we will be back...next time we'll make a weekend of it!