Lanterne Rooms, Campbell

For a special occasion, I was taken out to Lanterne Rooms for a surprise dinner. I probably hinted a couple of times that I was interested in checking it out but its one of those places you can’t just justify going to without something to celebrate.

After flicking through Lanterne Room’s menu we decided to go with the tasting menu or degustation as they refer to it on their website and it seemed like most other diners were doing the same. For $82 Lanterne Room’s tasting menu included seven plates plus dessert from their a la carte menu. On an interesting side note, you only have two physical plates throughout the dinner and the staff at Lanterne Room will come around to pop the different items on your plate as you finish. Really fun and casual experience, didn’t make for good photos though unfortunately, so that explains why almost everything is an ultra close up. I was just trying to hide as much of the dirty plate as possible. Didn’t mind this too much, it really made it feel like you were tasting a bunch of different things from Lanterne Room’s menu instead of attending a fancy schmancy degustation.

Anyways onwards to the food.

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First up was the Cured ocean trout on a fennel and carrot confit. This was yummy. Something really nice and light to start the whole tasting menu with. The ocean trout was lightly cured so it wasn’t overly sour or tangy and wasn’t fried or anything so was really light and clean on the palate. The carrot and fennel confit reminded me of the pickled veggies that I used to get at home and this sourness from the veggies gave the ocean trout just that little bit of extra flavour, tang and crunch. Together the different elements worked really well.

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Second up, the Marinated scallops and calamari with vegetables achar and watercress salad. Big fan of this taster. Both the scallop and calamari were amazing. I didn’t know which one to eat first and which one to savour. They were both cooked perfectly, soft and moist, lively to bite into. The flavours were incredible, super strong, heavily seasoned and I’m pretty sure it was that heavily spiced South East Asian style. I’m really a sucker for perfectly cooked scallops and these were just amazing, spongey and bounced back up if you pushed into it, just wonderful! Seemed like the salad was marinated in the same stuff as the seafood so the whole dish was just really strong and flavoursome. Screw balance, this was delicious.

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Another super flavoursome dish, the Tom yum crispy prawns with rock melon and apple slaw. Just like the previous taster this was full of flavour and it was delicious. There’s definitely a seafood theme here at Lanterne Rooms, so if you’re into seafood, this is a place you should definitely go. The prawns were large and cooked absolutely perfectly, firm and springy when you bit into them. They were smothered in creamy and heavy tom yum sauce that was just delightful and full of really strong flavours. Another thing, this sauce added was a little bit of spice on the side too, not too strong but just a nice kick to make this dish pop. It was a really thick savoury flavour but the rock melon and apple slaw really helped to smooth things out and lighten it all a bit. It had just enough sweetness to breakthrough the heaviness of the creamy tom yum.

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Something a little lighter, well less creamy than the last dish, the Chargrilled fish with chillied pickled pineapple. This was one of the standouts of the night, really amazing! The fish was lightly grilled, and I don’t know how Lanterne Rooms did it, but the fish had this wonderful soft texture all the way through, you could just push your fork against it and it’d fall apart. The fish itself wasn’t heavily seasoned and this decision went really well with the pickled pineapple and spices. These toppings were heavily flavoured with South East Asian spices and the pineapple brought a lot of sweetness to the dish. I really enjoyed this, the canvas of the fish was a perfect place for the spices to shine and it was definitely a nice break from all the really strong and creamy flavours of the previous dishes.

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So that’s seafood done! Lanterne Rooms decided to give us some meat from here on out, first up the Slow cooked lamb cutlets with coconut salad. This was probably up there as one of the best dishes of the night, I know I’ve said that a lot in this post, but it’s been really hard to decide! The meat was cooked perfectly, nice and soft on the inside with a lovely crispy char on the outside. And to top this all off, the meat was super flavourful, deep and hearty. There was a little bit of spice to it but just enough to give the lamb cutlets some kick but not too much that it was overwhelming and killed the taste of everything else. As for the coconut salad, I didn’t see any on my plate, didn’t know it was included until looking at the description to type this up. As you may have guessed, I really didn’t miss the salad at all, this dish was amazing and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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Next up, the Slow cooked blackmore wagyu beef Kampung curry. This was a nice change, something more moist and soupy to break up the drier meats and seafoods. This was definitely on the spicier side and came with a side of rice and garlic green beans. It reminded me of something my parents would cook when it was cold. The meat itself was really tender and moist, the flavours were strong and had a lot of spice to them but they went well with the crunchy beans and steaming rice. It wasn’t bad but sadly it did come right after the lamb cutlets that were absolutely amazing – unfortunate positioning, who could really follow that lamb though?

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Here is the side of Steamed green beans with garlic that came with the beef curry. These were nice, cooked well – still crunchy but no sign of that slightly undercooked taste or texture. They were also really generous with the garlic which gave the beans a lot of flavour and they smelt really good!

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And finally, our last savoury dish for the night, the Spatchcock gulai, a rich spicy sour Penang style curry. Another awesome and flavourful dish. The dish came with a spatchcock thigh and drumstick, and this dish made me realise how small spatchcocks are because well, yeah it wasn’t huge. The bird was really lovely and full of strong Penang curry flavours that really permeated all the meat here on display. It was really moist and tender, really well cooked and broke apart really easily. The texture felt more like duck than any other bird, and I do love a bit of duck, so this was a wonderful way to end our savoury night.

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Finally, we have dessert! Well the first half of it, Gulab jamun with raspberry and coconut jelly. This was such a nice looking dessert, it came out with a gulab jamun (Indian deep fried donuts in a cardamon or rosewater sugar syrup) on one side and on the other side was the kek lapis (Nyonya layer cake). I’ll talk about the gulab jamun here and the kek lapis below. The gulab jamun was delicious, it had a nice layer of crunch on the outside but the dough on the inside was soft and aerated. There was no sugar syrup on the plate and the ball itself wasn’t overly moist or mushy but the spice and rosewater flavours really came through. Also I really liked the raspberry and cocnut jelly, it added some nice texture and sourness when the gulab jamun became too much. Absolutely love the way this plate looked!

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And the other side or half of our dessert, a Kek lapis (Nyonya layer cake). Wow this was amazing. We were originally tossing up between this and the panna cotta. We ended up picking this because the panna cotta came in a glass cup and looked a little boring, it was also chocolate and I’m not a massive fan of chocolate desserts so I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it that much. I’m really glad we chose the layer cake instead as it was really delicious and looked fantastic! The cake wasn’t overly dense, it was light and airy. The two different layers differed in texture, so when having it together it was just really interesting to have in the mouth. Flavour wise, not quite sure what it was meant to taste like but I liked it a lot and seriously wanted another serving. The cake wasn’t overly sweet, it was nice and mild, just enough sweetness to consider this a dessert, and definitely mild enough to want more.

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And for our second dessert, we got the Buttermilk kulfi ice cream with crispy sweet potatoes. I’m a big fan of kulfi, I really like the texture of it. Its quite icy, not super creamy but not quite like a sorbet either. Here the iciness was more like individual ice shards that come off, whereas in sorbets the iciness is more crumbly and grainy. Also I was a really big fan of the flavours, very basic just nice, milky and creamy. Nothing overly complicated but absolutely delicious. The nuts and crispy sweet potato were also nice, giving the kulfi some texture and different flavours.

This was a really enjoyable dinner at Lanterne Rooms, all the food was super flavourful and full of different spices. Lanterne Rooms is an absolutely lovely place for a nice and fancy dinner! The whole ‘waiter comes around to give you bits of food’ thing was a little strange but it worked for Lanterne Rooms. I guess it is a taster menu at the end of the day, and this certainly lived up to it.

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