I freely admit that my birthday gift to TBS this year wasn’t completely altruistic: a weekend away staying in a heritage B & B and a 12 course degustation dinner at Brae in Birregurra. He needed someone to enjoy it with am I right? Instead of a play by play of the meal, I’ve focused on some of the highlights of the night…
The door glides open and we are ushered into Brae’s dining room. The space is befitting of its natural setting and it exudes luxury in a contemporary and comfortable kind of way. Slate and olive tones, generously sized round tables, the dark wooden floor and the singular floral arrangement. All tables face the kitchen which is set-back from the dining room but open. Within, it’s a flurry of precise and practised movements. It’s very impressive. Brae’s front of house team are charm personified. They’re engaging, interested and clearly chuffed to be a part of Dan Hunter’s vision. The 12 course degustation is the only option at Brae and we suggest you dive head first and opt for the wine match as well. You’d be a fool not to.
There are many highlights- the iced oyster for one. Freeze-dried and powdered oyster and nori is sprinkled on the base of an oyster shell, filled with oyster ice-cream, flavoured by the brine from the mollusc and is then dusted with the same powder as the base. The flavour of the sea is contained in each creamy mouthful.
The warm ricotta and nettle, roasted chicken and brassicas is a powerful and intense dish. Shards of paper thin greens and crispy chicken skin offer a brittle crunch which is immediately soothed by the smooth ricotta. It’s bitter and earthy, in a good way.
We can’t get enough of the ‘barbecued wallaby not barbecued’, a softly charred radicchio leaf encasing finely chopped wallaby tartare that melts in your mouth. We swipe the roll-up through the dab of sweet beetroot ‘sauce’ and wish the mouthful could last forever.
Both desserts are equally appealing- softly tart blackberries and sweet blackcurrants in one and a brandy snap-esque parsnip and creamy custard in the other.
I’ll finish here. The element of surprise should not be underestimated, to be wowed when a dish is placed before you, as you taste your first mouthful and as the plate is whipped away, is half of the enjoyment. All I have left to say, is go. Brae is welcoming, innovative and delicious. It’s money well spent.
Salt and vinegar potato
Burnt pretzel, treacle, pork
All small bites matched with:
2010 Blake’s Estate, ‘Blanc de Noir’, Deans Marsh, Victoria
Dainton Family Brewers ‘Red Eye Rye’, Bendigo, Victoria
Crayfish and new potatoes, flathead roe, milk and mustard
2013 Crawford River Riesling, Henty, Victoria
Calamari and fermented celeriac, grilled peas and beef fat
2011 Weingut Prager ‘Hinter der Burg’ Federspiel Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Warm ricotta and nettle, roasted chicken and brassicas
2013 Sato Chardonnay, Central Otago, New Zealand
Barbecued wallaby not barbecued
2012 Les Clos Perdus ‘Prioundo’ Grenaches Cinsault, Corbières, France
Pasture raised Angus dry aged 30 days, cauliflower, soured onions
2012 Paradise IV ‘Dardell’ Shiraz, Geelong, Victoria
Red fruits, lemon and lovage, wild cabbage and buckwheat
2012 Best’s Great Western ‘House Block’ Off-dry Riesling, Grampians, Victoria
Parsnip and apple
2004 Domaine des Baumard ‘Cuvée de Paon’, Coteaux du Layon, France
Rhubarb and pistachio, blood and preserved blackberry
Good to know:
12 course degustation menu $180 per person
Matched wines $120 per person
Matched non-alcoholic beverages $60 per person
Online reservations may be made up to 3 months in advance.
4285 Cape Otway Road
Rather than driving to Brae, we caught the V/Line from Southern Cross Station to Birregurra. The trip was just under 2 hours and cost approximately $16 per person, each way. We were dropped off and picked up from Brae by our B & B hosts (a complimentary service offered by many of the B & B’s in Birregurra).
Telephone +61 3 5236 2226
Dinner: Thursday to Sunday from 6:30pm
Lunch: Friday to Monday from 12:00pm
Images: Thomas Southam