Saved the best post for last! Our degustation lunch at Muse Restaurant in the Hunter Valley.
The restaurant is inside the Hungerfood Hill cellar door, and just look at this pretty building. The left building is meant to look like a wine drum, the top is meant to be a lid. Personally, I thought it was a satellite dish, which apparently was a pretty common mistake so I didn’t feel too stupid about it.
We ended up picking the eight course tasting menu for $115 without wines. With Hungerford Hills wines it is $175 and for premium wines it is $215, we felt like we had a bit too much to drink already so decided to go without wines. There was also a twelve course degustation as well, which takes three hours. Our degustation was meant to last about two hours. However, we had to rush them a little and fit it in one and a half hours because we had a wine tour booked afterwards that we couldn’t slot anywhere else unfortunately. Muse was really accommodating and helpful with our request and they were still extremely lovely.
Once we were seated at our table we were offered some bread. The one on the right was a brioche but its not like the heavy, dense and super buttery ones you get from on those hipster brioche burgers. This was super fluffy, almost like a bread cross croissant. It went so well with the fluffy butter and the black garlic butter. Every time they came around we grabbed another one of these. The one on the left was a sweetish bun, I don’t remember much about it unfortunately, the brioche croissant completely out shone it.
First up was the Amuse, savoury veal macarons and pork crackling. This was really nice, the macarons were small but perfect, soft inside with a crispy shell and the best part, the veal filling. It was so smooth with a mild veal taste but with some sweetness to it. The pork cracking was great, light and super crunchy and I think they had a veal sauce on it. This was a pretty exciting dish, I get why its called Amuse, something fun, exciting and different.
Our first official dish of the degustation, Beetroot and Binnorie goats cheese cannelloni with coppersfolly wasabi, hazelnut and shiso. I normally don’t like beetroot, goats cheese or wasabi but I would happily eat this dish as a main (which we saw from other tables was three cannelloni instead of one). And look how pretty it is! Didn’t really want to dig into it, just too pretty to eat. The cannelloni was made out of beetroot but I don’t think it was just a thin slice of beetroot, there was definitely something else to it, seemed a little pasta like. The cannelloni was filled with local Binnorie goats cheese, this was flavoursome and balanced well with the sourness of the beetroot. The wasabi was mild and didn’t really add any spice, which I think works for this dish, all the flavours are really soft and I guess kinda bland (but in a good way) so I think spiciness would have really killed it. Hazelnut was also nice, gave the dish a nuttiness and some extra texture.
For our second course, we received Pan fried sea scallops and confit chicken wing with roast parsnip, chestnut and chicken jus. Another extremely pretty dish and incredibly tasty, like everything else so far! The scallops were nice, juicy with some crispiness from the searing. Sadly, it was completely out shadowed by the chicken, which was amaaazing! Super crispy but the inside was still moist and flavoursome. Could not get enough of this. I’ve never had parsnip before but I liked this, I think I’ll definitely try cooking with parsnip in the future. The roasted one was sweetish and the puree was lovely, like mash! But better. Way better.
The third course, a Slow cooked Berkshire pork, house made bacon and caramelised carrot puree, orange, fennel seed labna. Every plate was so pretty, I really did appreciate the presentation. The meat was great but my favourite part was the caramelised carrot puree, originally I thought it was pumpkin because it was orange then I read the menu and realised it was carrot. I mean there’s nothing wrong with carrot but who knew it could taste as creamy and delicious as this! I scraped off all the puree from the plate it was so good. Back to the meat, the pork was flavourful and juicy, the bacon was crispy but slightly salty for the overall dish but still nice. Honestly, I preferred the vegetable parts of this dish to the meaty parts. The roasted carrot was really nice too and the orange, fennel seed labna was creamy and silky.
Forth course, Whey poached Milly Hill lamb loin, braised shoulder and house made ricotta, baby fennel, pollen and blackberries. This was really nice, especially the shredded lamb, this was tender and full of flavour. The house made ricotta was amazing and really added creaminess to the flavoursome lamb. The poached lamb was really well done, nice and pink. There wasn’t much seasoning or flavouring for the poached lamb and this really let the natural flavours of the lamb come out. Good stuff.
Finally we got to our dessert plate, but before that a palate cleanser! Watermelon granita with coconut sorbet and caramelised ginger and coconut shavings. This was amazing, this and the amuse (veal macarons) were probably the best part of the degustation in my opinion, and they weren’t even on the menu! All the other dishes were really nice and well done but these two were just fun, exciting and different. The watermelon granita was sweet and fruity, no artificial melon taste or anything but the best part was the coconut sorbet. This was a coconut milk sorbet so it was super creamy and just sweet enough, it had this amazing texture, it was fluffy, airy and cloud like, actually in hindsight, it was probably aerated. Soo good! I wished they served this as a dessert on its own.
Finally, we got to dessert, my favourite part of any meal! Vanilla bean custard, fresh honeycomb and salted date, banana and brown butter. The vanilla bean custard was so good, super creamy and silky smooth, it kinda just melted in your mouth. The brown butter worked really well this the custard, gave the custard a whole new dimension. The honeycomb was also really fun, its not everyday you get to enjoy your honey as naturally as this. We were spitting out bits of wax all over the place, so the plate was pretty horrific looking when we were done with it.
And finally as we were finalising our meal and rushing off to pay and head out to our wine tour we were given a box of Complimentary macarons and lamingtons. I’m sure these were absolutely amazing, just I can’t say for sure, I took them with us on the wine tour because we were so full and unfortunately we forgot them while we were wine testing at Leogates, all the wineries were so generous, I might of had a bit too much.
The six course degustation plus palate cleanser, complimentary bread and sweet treats was $115, with Hungerford Hill Wines it was $175 and for alternative premium wines it was $215.
This was an absolutely amazing experience. Everything about it, the service, the atmosphere, the food! Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys food and is heading up to the Hunter Valley.
Check out some of our other food adventures from the Hunter Valley: