Dunkeld is a quiet country town, with not much else other than the Royal Mail. It’s at the base of the Grampians, about 3.5 hours drive from Melbourne. Odd to have a Michelin-star-quality restaurant in the middle of nowhere, but somehow, it lends to the charm of the place.
The Royal Mail Hotel has been on the ‘to-dine-at’ list for S and myself for some time now, so when we finally got around to it, expectations were pretty high. I must warn you that there is likely to be many superlatives in this post because, in short, this place completely blew me away.
Not only was the meal one of the best I’ve ever had, but the room, surrounds, ambience and staff were exceptional.
Menu Omnivore – June 23rd 2012
The rice paper had the texture of a prawn cracker. Light and refreshing, it was a perfect opener.
Sticky and sweet rainbow trout, delicious. The winner on this plate, however, was the chicken crisp. It looks deceptively ‘plain’ but just one bite of this feels like you’ve just put an entire roast chicken dinner in your mouth. At this point, S just became laughing maniacally.
The tomato and prawn had an intense flavour which was cut through beautifully by the daikon ice. It always makes me happy when I can say ‘I’ve never had anything like this before!’
So much flavour packed into such a small serving. I’m a bit fan of contrasting textures on a plate so I loved the soft, salty pancetta against the smooth rye cream. Throw in the crunch of the candied radish and I’m pretty happy right about now.
Breaking the yoke on this and watching the velvety yoke run through the potatoes and cod was so comforting. Those tiny, wee little potatoes were cooked to perfection. Oh, and FISH CRACKLING!
I’m usually unimpressed with white fish so I wasn’t expecting much with this course. This course made me realise how awesome it can be. I’ve never had hapuku before but I want it again! The fish was buttery and flaky, and the single chicory leaf gave it just a slight bitterness that was spot on.
Oh god. OH GOD. The closest I’ve ever come to having a religious experience was this course.
This was the only course that didn’t entirely work for me, however, not through any fault of the chef. The pecorino was insanely intense and had very ‘blue-cheese’ qualities to it. Not being a fan of blue cheese, it was a bit too much for me, but S (who adores blue cheese) scoffed this down.
Sort of like a deconstructed strudle. How could something so ugly taste so damn good?
Pumpkin ice-cream? Totally works! Getouttahere!
Chocolate is always a crowd-pleaser, however it’s the pistachio that was the star on this plate. Paired with a milk chocolate ice-cream and exactly the right amount of honeycomb pieces. There’s a kind of genius behind this dish.
TL;DR: Incredible. I’ll be back.