It was a lunch that was planned a couple of weeks in advance so you can imagine how excited I was as the day drew nearer. I’ve been hearing lots of good feedback and seeing heaps of yummy food pictures of Hare & Grace and I was really looking forward to trying what they had to offer. PLUS! I was going to meet with Jan @ Peach Water for the first time. So it was definitely double the excitement for me! (:
Hare & Grace
Address : 525 Collins Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel : 03 9629 6755
Website : http://hareandgrace.com/
Opening hours : Mondays – Fridays
Lunch – 12 to 3pm
Dinner – 6pm till late
We were one of the first customers that afternoon, and when I walked through the glass doors, I was greeted by really friendly staffs. Jan arrived a little earlier than I did, and the dining area wasn’t ready for customers yet (the wait staffs were still being briefed). So they sat her at a table near the fire place. Perfect for that cold, rainy afternoon!
Shortly after I arrived, we were led into, what I can describe as, a forest-like dining area; an enchanted forest! There were branches hanging down from the ceiling and I was going ooh and ahh as the wait staff brought as to our table. She very kindly explained to us the different parts of the menu and gave us time to decide what we wanted.
We opted for the 3 course lunch set menu and decided that we were going to try one of each of the courses. This way, we were able to try everything they had to offer! (: Their lunch sets had the option of 2 or 3 courses ($42/$55), and it came with a complimentary glass of house white/red.
Jan had the house white – chardonnay and I had the house red – cabernet sauvignon.
We started our amazing food journey with freshly baked bread, a beautifully cornelled butter and a side of sea salt. I can still remember how impressed we both were when they placed the stone with the butter sitting proudly on top in the middle. I think I’ve never taken so many photos of butter before. haha.
The bread was served in a bird’s nest bowl. Really making me feel like I was dining in an enchanted forest! hehe
Our entrees arrived and we asked the wait staff to place them in the middle as we were just going to share everything. How pretty is this beetroot, mint, pomegranate and goat’s cheese salad? It’s like an edible garden! So so pretty! I have to admit, when I saw it on the menu, I was quite reluctant to order it, cause I never really had beet root on it’s on before. Usually I have it in my juice back home. But had to trust the chefs and give it a go.
So glad I did! The chopped mint made the salad refreshing, and it had different textures! The pomegranate gave the dish a crunch and the goat’s cheese gave the dish the creaminess and cuts the acidity of the beets. It was definitely one of our favourite dishes of the day. hehe
The other entree we had was the eggplant, with sweet & sour cured salmon, cracked wheat and labne. It was my first time having cracked wheat actually. It tasted like couscous, just a little crunchier. The cured salmon was very flavourful and absolutely love that the dish had different textures! Just makes it more exciting when eating it. hehe After the composites, I just couldn’t wait to have our mains!
When we saw mushroom risotto on the menu, we knew we wanted to have it because the night before, the Masterchef contestants were in Italy and they had the risotto challenge. Jan and I were chatting and imagining how flat our risotto will be! haha that was definitely emphasised when the contestants were making their risottos. Alas! It arrived and it sure was flat and the smell of the mushrooms was just heavenly! Every single mouthful was just mmmmm! We could taste every single grain and it was al dente and coated with mushroomy-goodness! We couldn’t stop singing praises about it!
When we told the wait staff about how flat the risotto had to be cause of what we saw on Masterchef, she asked if it was George who said it, as she use to work for him and she told us that he use to always say that! hehe Hilarious! I was quite entertained by that fact. hehe
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the braised beef cheeks with the most amazing mash EVER. Thick, creamy, buttery and luscious! I could have that all day! The beef cheeks were marinated in red wine for 26 hours before being slow braised for 5-6 hours. So you can imagine how it just falls apart with the touch of our forks/knives! The meat was oh-so-tender and just melts in your mouth! AMAZING!!
Sweet, Guilty, Vanity (Desserts)
Of course. There will always be space for desserts (in fact, some may argue we have a separate stomach for sweets hehe). We were pretty full by the time the mains were done, but we couldn’t not have desserts to end the meal (and meet up) on a sweet note! The kitchen had some difficulty with the blow torch, so there was a bit of a delay. But the friendly staff came by our table, twice, to apologise and update us on how long more it would take. We were very very impressed by their sincerity and professionalism!
Let me tell you, the chocolate bar was well-worth the wait! It was such a decadent dessert which a thick, chocolatey mousse (78%) accompanied by some chocolate soil, a Pedro Ximenez (port wine) jelly and spiced milk sorbet! The chocolate bar had just the right level of sweetness and when eaten together with all the components, it was very well-balanced! Definitely not too rich, though it sure looks like it! hehe If you’re a fan of chocolate, this is a MUST HAVE!
When the vanilla creme brulee arrived at our table, it reminded me of the one I had in Paris many years back. The first thing I did was to take my spoon and crack the toffee layer at the top. Nothing more satisfying than hearing that crack when the spoon hits the hard surface, and a wide smile followed (: The custard was smooth and you could definitely see the vanilla seeds but was a tad too sweet for me. It helped having it with the biscotti though! hehe kinda mellowed the sweetness as it had the spiciness of ginger.
Hare & Grace has definitely lived up to our expectations and even more! Lovely and friendly wait staff, delicious food with awesome company (thanks Jan!) made the whole experience very memorable! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I brought the Mr back for lunch a few days later and he really loved it as well!
So do give H&G a try when you’re around the city, and do remember to call them up to book in advance. Do note that they are only open on weekdays for lunch and dinner! (:
Stay tuned for the post on Peach Water this weekend and have a read of her review of the place and her beautiful photos!