Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stefano's Restaurant, Mildura by Bureaucrat

This bureaucrat will go to (almost) any length to dine at restaurants.  While living in London, I got to try a few restaurants that I've only had read about in foodie magazines (Petersham Nurseries, my first Michelin hatted restaurant).

However, I was thwarted by the completely whacked policies of the UK's regional train operators in my pursuit of eating at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's (of River Cottage fame) restaurant.  And the volcanic ash that was spewing from Iceland that prevented me boarding my plan to Belfast to dine at Paul Rankin's Cayenne restaurant... sigh.

Loxton dry aged beef w a variety of onions and housemade muesli 

But one of the jewels in my food crown was our seven hour journey (we went via the Tube, a train, another train and a bus ride to get there) to Padstow to eat at Rick Stein's seafood restaurant.  The long journey, which included a bout of journey sickness for me, was worth the incredibly fresh seafood that awaited us.

As I'm back in the glorious land of Oz, I'm currently writing up this post of my dinner at Stefano's while enjoying the last few hours in Mildura. Once again, we embarked on a seven hour journey (via car and not public transport...thank god), this time with Mother Hen and Mr Strong in tow, to Mildura.

Located in the cellar of a hotel, we descended down the slate steps into the restaurant. We were greeted by very friendly and hospitable staff. After confirming our dietary requirements, and receiving our drinks, we sat back awaiting our six course degustation menu.

The preliminaries were these butter and fruity and fragrant olive oil plates made from red gum wood, served with warm bread rolls.

The complementary antipasti comprised of veal ham w pickled sultanas...

...caramelized pork terrine.  This was one of the best dishes of the night. Juicy, flavoursome pork that suited the wafer-thin crispy silverside (I think) that had a delicious caramel crust on it...

...and these fat, juicy poached yabbie tails, served with powdered seaweed.

The first course was a carpaccio of smoked Blackmore wagyu, pickled beetroot, w wild mustard salsa verde. Deliciously smoky beef with a wonderful waxy-ish texture.

The second course was my favourite dish. a perfectly poached Woorlong egg, served w potato and white anchovy veloute-soupy-foamy sauce and a slice of yellow fin tuna.  Wow. I LOVED this dish! The egg was so silky and creamy, and went incredibly well the light-as-air sauce, and the oily sliver of tuna.

The Lawyer got a dairy-free version of this dish, which came with chicken consomme and artichokes. The Lawyer especially loved the incredibly intense chicken flavour from the consomme. I tried a little bit of it and agreed with him - god knows how many chickens it took to get that that precious serve of consomme.

Third course was a fresh porcini (from Italy) risotto. We thought that this dish wasn't as nice as the other dishes but this was a matter of personal preference. The risotto was al dente, but all of us preferred the risotto to be a bit more soft. It was also a tad salty given the strong flavours coming from the porcini and the parmesan.

Fourth course was Loxton dry aged beef w a variety of onions and housemade muesli (see first pic). A very tender serve of beef (even Mother Hen didn't mind the beef being medium rare as it was so fresh and it being not too rare).  The onion jus and puree was robust in flavour which went well with the beef. I especially liked the muesli which gave texture and interest to the dish.

We finally made it to dessert courses. With not much space left in our tummies with anticipation and also a bit of fear - a fear that we'd burst from all this delicious food.

Fifth course was a DIY spider. This was okay.  There was a build up to this dish (with the lemonade being served in a science beaker) that ended up being a bit flat. Vanilla bean ice cream w yuzu lemonade pearls, served w wild fennel.  The tart lemon was a welcome palate cleanser.

Sixth course was a very generous serve. Too much good food, and very, very little space left in our tummies. White chocolate,  hazelnut  and coffee mousse and crumble, served w malted buttermilk and salted puffed rice.  As with the beef, I loved the muesli and the comforting malty flavour from the buttermilk and the hazelnut.

As we settled the bill, we were served a delightful trio of Murray river salted caramel macaroons delightful chewiness), strawberry lamingtons w cream and orange blossom marshmallows (I couldn't really taste the orange blossom). The Lawyer was served a dairy-free version of the above.

This dinner was totally worth the 14 hour return trip to Melbourne. Excellent service and excellent food.  I'd totally recommend you taken the time to dine here. If the seven hour drive sounds daunting, you can always catch a plane up here.

The only teensy bit of criticism was the room. The room got a bit stuffy towards the end of the night. The decor was a tad out-dated - with the etched mirrors and rather ho-hum artwork.  Foodwise, we felt the menu could have included more veg and fruit.

Food – 10
Service – 10
Ambience – 8
Price – 10

Stefano's Restaurant
Quality Hotel Mildura Grand
Langtree Avenue
Mildura 3500
Telephone: 03 5023 0511

Stefano's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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