After our amazing dinner at Sage just the other week we headed back for their paupers to princes truffle lunch. Sage along with many other other places and establishments in Canberra are offering wonderful truffle goodies left, right and centre! Some places are simply allowing you to add shaved truffle on to their pre-existing plates for about $10 to $15, other places like Sage are including new truffle inspired plates onto their menus and then there are those who are doing full blown truffle degustations.
I quite like how Sage has approached this. They’re keeping with their usual pricing structure, $75 for a three course lunch (the truffle menu doesn’t seem to be available for dinner). You get to choose from Sage’s normal offerings, (see what I had just a couple of weeks ago here) and you can mix and match with an additional two truffle choices for each course. We ended up picking all truffle dishes but our friend did mix it up to try their pork belly entree.
I also really like that Sage has a theme, I don’t really think anyone else does. The idea of making less ritzy foods more glamorous and fancy by using interesting ingredients, quirky cooking techniques and those awesome Canberra truffles. Onwards to the amazing truffle plates and goodies at Sage.
First up, we grabbed the Tendon chicharron (serving of 3, $3 each) with lime aioli, paprika and caviar. This was our friends first time at Sage, so we may have strongly suggested getting this awesome little bite size treat. Honestly, I reckon it was because we enjoyed it so much last time, we just had to have it again. It was actually a little different this time, not in a bad way, it still tasted amazing but texture of the chicharron was different. Last time it was really thin and light in texture, like a thin prawn cracker is how I examined it. This time, it was quite dense, smaller but more compact, I feel like this made it a lot crisper and allowed it to crackle away when it first arrived. This one reminded me of pork crackling, which is weird because I tend to find pork crackling quite sickening, this was anything but. I think it was the citrus from the lime aioli and the savouriness of the caviar that helped with the heaviness of the chicharron.
For our first truffle entree, we grabbed the Son in law egg on Paris mash with fish sauce and truffle shavings. I don’t actually think the staff at Sage called this a son in law egg but it definitely reminds me of one and the plate overall felt very South East Asian influenced. The egg though, was great! It was boiled but the yolk was still slightly runny which made it lovely and creamy. The outside of the egg had a thin crispy layer like it had been quickly deep fried which was an amazing contrast of textures and to top it all off there was a sweet and salty fish sauce like dressing drizzled all over it. The egg sat over a super creamy mash that melted in my mouth and to top it all off, some shaved truffle which rounded all the strong flavours off and gave this delicious dish some lovely smokiness.
For our second entree, we grabbed Sage’s other truffle entree, the Mac and cheese with house made pasta, bacon, gruyere cheese and truffle shaving. This is definitely not what I normally think of when people say mac n cheese, I assume there’ll be a whole lot of cream and a whole lot of cheese (which I love). This is like some crazy gourmet version that did away with a lot of the heavy creaminess and cheesiness and offered a mac and cheese that was lighter, but still rich in flavour. This totally worked and I absolutely loved it. The pasta was amazing, looks ugly but tasted and broke away perfectly as you bit into it. Flavour wise, this was one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had, the gruyere was so powerful but it contrasted so well with the earthy shaved truffle and salty bacon. Only issue I had was that it was a really small serving, I guess it’s an entree but…ahh…nah. I wanted more.
For our first main, we grabbed the Mushroom risotto with Jerusalem artichokes, parsnip crisps and truffle shavings. This was amazing and absolutely full of flavour. This is only my third risotto ever but it’s easily my favourite. There were chunky bits of super flavoursome mushrooms throughout the risotto which definitely added to the earthy, and smoky flavours that came from the truffles shavings. I would describe truffles as tasting kind of like mushrooms, so it’s no real surprise that they go so well together! The parsnip crisps added some great texture along with the chunkiness from the fresh Jerusalem artichokes. I found the fresh artichokes also contrasted the strong mushroom flavours of the whole dish, it added this lovely freshness.
Our second main for the night, was the Beef cheek with truffle semolina cake, pickled onions, watercress puree and truffle shavings. This was absolutely fantastic! The beef cheek just literally fell apart, I kind of pushed against it with my fork and the meat just fell apart, delightful. The meat was beautifully seasoned but kept its strong savoury beefy flavours intact. The semolina cake was hard to explain, I really liked it, and it had truffle bits all the way through it, which were just brilliant little pockets of flavour. It’s kind of like a non-sweet cornbread, it’s hard to explain, really good as a bread/potato substitute to balance out the richness of the dish. The watercress puree was actually really bitter! A bit shocking when I first had it, but when I felt the sweetness of the pickled onions, I started to figure out how it all came together. The highlight of this dish was definitely the cheek, but of course, I guess that was always going to be the case. The shaved truffle was honestly a little hard to taste, and I’m putting that up against the strong flavours of everything else on the plate.
For our first desserts we grabbed a Truffle bread and butter pudding with star anise ice cream and truffle shavings. This dish was really tasty. Weirdly when you eat each of the individual components separately, everything just tasted rather normal, nothing really stood out or amazed but when you ate the bread and butter pudding together with the ice cream and other bits and bobs, the flavours and elements just worked perfectly and was simply wow. The bread pudding was really quite dense, a lot more than I was used to, but full of buttery goodness. The star anise ice cream really packed a punch and brought a lot of flavour to the whole dish! Star anise is something I love, but would not have thought would make good ice cream, dead wrong I was. This was topped with lovely smokiness and earthiness from the shaved truffles that somehow really worked in the dessert context. I had no idea truffle was so versatile, a part of me wants to buy a big mac and sprinkle truffle all over it! There were so many little chunks of goodness everywhere that added a lot of different textures and flavours to the plate that I really appreciated. There were crunchy bits, soft chewy bits, nutty parts, sweetness, bitterness from the flowers and overall they made this a really interesting and enjoyable dish!
For our second dessert we grabbed the Coconut and truffle ice cream on vanilla custard and pear slices with tapioca, apple pearls and truffle shavings. This was probably my favourite dish! Every part was super tasty and together it was simply amazing. You may be thinking, there isn’t any custard on the plate, I thought the same thing when the staff at Sage mentioned custard, I figured that they had just made a mistake and ignored it but as I started digging away at the dish, I hit custard like it was buried treasure. Under all that tapioca, there was actually a nice big serving of custard, which I must say really turned this dessert from nice to amazing! The coconut and truffle ice cream was super yummy, it was a bit like Mr Frugii’s truffle ice cream but super creamy from the coconut milk. I found this also really improved the texture, making it super silky and smooth. The tapioca had a slight sweetness to it that was balanced off by the citrusy apple pearls and pear slices. I think without the custard this dessert would have definitely been on the milder side. The custard really added some great sweetness to it all.
Finally a couple of drinks, a Hazelnut house made soda. ($8 each). At first I didn’t get a drink, I’m too newbie with wines to know what I’ll like from a massive menu likes Sage’s and its too risky to just go with one because chances are, its probably beyond my current wine palette to truly enjoy. I saw that Sage had some house made sodas but for $8, I figured nah, totally not worth it. Then our mate had the lycee house made soda and then ordered a second one within probably less than 15 minutes! At that point, I had to try it out. I decided to go with the hazelnut house made soda, I figured it would be new, exciting and different. Who has ever heard of a hazelnut soft drink and I’m so glad I did because it was absolutely amazing! It tasted pretty much like a lime soda (which disappointed me a little at first) but had an after taste that was unmistakably hazelnuts with that lovely creaminess and nuttiness. Additionally, it wasn’t overly fizzy or too sweet either! It was such a good drink. Next time I eat at Sage, I’m going a soft match. Pretty much, your food gets matched with Sage’s crazy soda creations instead of wines.
This was another absolutely amazing experience at Sage. Their truffle dishes were super tasty, the staff were friendly and it was just an absolutely treat. Looking forwards to more fun and interesting meals at Sage in the future!