Chasing a Plate dined as guests of AUSTiNS
The Mt Erica Hotel has had a revamp. We hear locals are lamenting the disappearance of the TAB, instead they should be celebrating the new direction the kitchen has taken. The Mt Erica is now Billies, AUSTiNS and a deli/wine bar. Billies is where you can satisfy your craving for pub grub- think burgers, fried chicken and ribs. AUSTiNS focuses on Spanish and Mediterranean share plates and the deli and wine bar is where you can drop in for a glass of sherry and some charcuterie or pick up a coffee and a baguette on the way past.
Sunny Gilbert, Movida Next Door’s ex head chef leads a team which is spinning out plate after plate of spectacular food. The fresh produce is celebrated in each dish from the sweet New Zealand diamond clams which wallow in a green Basque sauce to the fresh figs which are paired with port soaked currants, creme fraiche and honeycomb. It’s food that you can’t get enough of. We start with some small bites- a quails egg enveloped in creamy salt cod crumbed and deep fried; salty, pungent anchovy soothed by smooth goats curd and a tart gazpacho jelly and delicate blue swimmer crab in a sweet corn puree.
Larger share plates include a crispy skinned snapper fillet in a saffron broth with vibrant green peas and Wagyu rump served rare with a simple grating of horseradish. If the smoked lamb is on the menu, order it. The slow-roasted, smoky meat doesn’t need any dressing up, only a green salad to cut through the rich flavours. If you’re unsure of what to drink, leave it to them. These guys know what they’re doing when it comes to matching wine with their food.
The fresh figs which we finish on are a fitting ending to a meal which has surpassed all expectations. Mt Erica locals, you ain’t got nothing to complain about.
Good to know:
Cuca Conservas tins: sardines $12, mussels $9
Tapas $3.50-$5.50 each
Share plates $10-$29 per plate
Mt Erica Hotel
420 High Street
Telephone +61 3 9529 5770
Open 7 days, 11:00am until late
Photographs: Thomas Southam