Lochiel House, Blue Mountains

http://www.lochielhouse.com.au

1259 Bells Line Of Rd, Kurrajong Heights, NSW

A lack of foreward planning and impending fatherhood meant Easter was spent in the Blue Mountains. A dramatic part of the world, so it was hard to complain. It’s easy to be complacent about a place so close.

The proximity meant we were able to sample another regarded restaurant only a couple of hours from our door. So here we were for Friday lunch at the two-hat Lochiel House in the bright autumn sunshine,  a lovely petite heritage building with lots  of nooks and crannies:

Inside there are a couple of rooms with tables nicely laid out – cosey in winter, relaxing in summer. The room has an understated elegance and has been treated with a fair hand. It boded well for the meal ahead.

 

And I would have left happy having only had the bread and olive oil butter:

The sourdough bread was hot from the oven, crispy and just delightful, accompanied with the olive butter with a hint of rosemary. The kitchen were able to supply more when we wolfed it all down.

A special mention must also go to the  accompanying olives that were sweet and subtle, without the sledgehammer brine. After one too many olive based martinis, my faith was restored in these little blighters.

We made our choice from the eclectic menu and settled in for our entrees:

Vanessa opted for gnocchi, sauteed with chestnut mushrooms, jerusalem artichoke cream and asparagus

The gnocchi was the cliched soft pillows and the various flavours came together nicely. As a list of ingredients, they weren’t anything to get excited about, but the evident freshness and resulting sweetness were lovely and it was a knockout dish. It was even possible to overlook the foam. It was that good.

I followed a different tack, opting for steamed dashi custard, smoked eel, scallop & avruga tartare, goldern enoki, mushroom soy:

It was a dish to admire for a moment. A couple of Asian diners later mentioned the accompanying leaf symbolised ‘death’, but hey, it was pretty. Clearly the intention was to capture an essence of Japan and it did just that. It may have been a little on the salty side, but the luxury ingredients and the sensitive handling of were terrific and it was something to dwell over. It’s certainly one of the most enjoyable entrees I’ve had this year.

And so on to the main courses. I’d ordered seared duck breast with smokey eggplant puress, figs, amontillado jus, jersulam artichokes, pumpkin seed wafer:

It was a dish greater than the sum of its parts. Anybody can cook duck well, but the combination was again spot on -the rich duck with the earthiness of eggplant & artichoke with the sweet reduction of sherry. Very enjoyable.

Vanessa chose the ‘house speciality’ – spiced butter poached spatchcock, yabbies, okra, celery hearts, cashews and fenugreek sprouts:

Essentially a sophisticated curry, the cooking itself could not be faulted. It was a competent dish, especially with the lightness of touch attributed to the yabbie and squab. Yet, curries should always have a bit of unrefined aggression and of course this lacked the killer instinct, but there were no complaints.

And so on to desserts.

Vanessa went for soft meringue roulade, vanilla cream, rosè jelly, strawberries,  and shortbread pebbles

Again a perfectly composed dish – some gooeiness (sp) of the marshmallow meringue with a bit of freeze-dried action with the shortbread. It’s a modern take on a traditional Scottish dish. It went down very well.

My dessert was a chocolate and banana custard combination:

It was a dish that hardly excited on the page and when it  arrived. We had a light-weight cylinder of chocolate and some ‘soil’ with some elementary slices of banana (bold), but then you taste the 70% chocolate custard and wow it was sensational. Everything else on the plate paled into comparison. The custard was the suprise of the meal. Loved it.

We finished with a fine coffee and some cute petit fours.

It was overall an excellent lunch. We had dishes based in several different countries, but it wasn’t jarring or just schizophrenic cooking as it could easily have been. The dishes were all singular plates of skill and refinement with combinations that really satisfied. The service at times was a little flamboyant for a regional restaurant, playing up to the notion of fine dining, but everything that really mattered was on the plate and it proved highly enjoyable. We recommend.

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