Respect. That’s what I have for John Lawson. The man and skills behind the newly launched No. 8 at Crown Melbourne. Why you ask? Because his beautiful creations are all driven & inspired by the fresh produce he has around him. In fact, his cooking revolves around sustainably produced ingredients that he can find around locally from Victorian farmers. BY doing that, he is proudly celebrating what Victoria has to offer. How great is that? Absolutely amazing!
John loves using ingredients that are not widely used, and in fact, a lot of the produce are exclusively grown and bred for No. 8 by John Lawson! These are definitely highlighted by the freshness and vibrance of each dish. And oh… have I mentioned how amazing it is?
I was so lucky to be invited to the launch of No. 8 by John Lawson and you can imagine how happy my belly was by the end of the night. Not to mention the beautifully paired wines we had with each course, I was definitely a very happy girl. The moment I sat down, I was greeted by a flute of Moët & Chandon champagne. Mmmm (: Bubbly!
Shortly after, the feasting began! To start off, we were served a beautiful potato, honey and rosemary bread with seaweed butter.
This bread was made by EDS Breads exclusively for No. 8 by John Lawson and it was seriously one of the best breads I’ve had! It was the first time I’ve had a potato flour bread and when you think potato, you would think heavy and dense. But this was nothing like that at all. In fact, the total opposite! It was soft, fluffy and light! Every bite you take, you would be able to taste the honey and the rosemary. Everyone loved it and even though we knew we would be stuffed by the end of the night, we asked (politely of course! haha) for more bread in the middle of the courses! AMAZEBALLS as some would say! hehe
The entree arrived and it was like a plate of edible garden. The Flowerdale Farm spring salad had a bed of wheat berries, topped with baby carrots, sunflower shoots and almond mushrooms.
It was the first time I’ve had eaten wheat berries, and they had a similar texture to barley, but just a tad bit chewier. The almond mushrooms were grown exclusively for No. 8 by John Lawson and had a subtle almond flavour to it. Was so intriguing! John explained to us that when cooked, the nuttier flavour is more pronounced and had tones of the truffle. Yum!
See the micro greens? They are sunflower shoots that are once again grown exclusively for John by Flowerdale Farm and these micro greens are grown in the Yarra Valley and harvested after a short 7 days of growing. Might probably be just me, but I get excited by micro herbs on dishes. haha This dish was paired with the Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard 2013 Riesling.
Next up was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The Portland black and blue tuna with black garlic, yuzu jam and fermented aged soy. This is a signature dish at No. 8 by John Lawson and I can definitely understand why!
Black and blue was a clever play of words, where one side of the tuna is charred and the other side is left raw. So light and refreshing, with a subtle kick from the aged soy. This is one dish I would definitely come back for. With the sweetness of the baby radish and the thinly sliced daikon. Just divine! You could tell how good this dish was, cause there was a silence at the table and then an endless of “this is SO GOOD!” going around after we all tried it.
For the main, we were given a choice of duck or lamb. Which was an obvious choice for me, cause I’m not usually a big fan of lamb. So duck it was!
The Milawa free range duck is once again bred exclusively for John (a cross of 5 different species of ducks, like WOW!) and are so tender, the meat just melts in your mouth! Cooked to medium rare to medium, your teeth is first greeted by the crispy duck skin and then it sinks into the juicy, tender flesh. I was in heaven!
To go with the beautiful dish is a glass of Pinot Noir (2011) from Bannockburn 1314 A.D. It was fruity and light, and definitely complimented this rich duck! When I saw this big glass, I couldn’t help but think of the Mr, cause he always wanted a glass like that! hehe And yes! He is a pinot noir fan! (:
The duck breasts were sitting on smooth shallot puree with crunchy, fresh asparagus and peas, I could seriously eat this all night long!
Even though I didn’t order the lamb shoulder, I was lucky enough to try it (Thanks Ash!) The lamb had no lamb-ey taste (if you know what I mean haha), which is the reason why I stay away from lamb. hehe So even for me, this was delicious! Being braised for 12 hours, it was really tender and is also one of the featured dishes at No. 8 By John Lawson! It was served with bush spice quinoa (yum!) and sheep’s yoghurt to just round it all off! Perfect!
After all the savouries, you know what’s coming yes? DESSERT! And no matter how full you are, I truly believe, there is always room for dessert! hehe And this place is definitely not a place you would want to skip the sweets. They are to-die-for!
There were two options to choose from and I decided to go for the one I thought (and sounded) healthier. haha I mean, after all the indulgence I had for the night, it would be good to have yoghurt yes? ABSOLUTELY! It was everything I thought it would be and more!
Doesn’t it look like art on a plate? The vibrant colours of the seasonal fruits -lychees, blueberries, grapefruit and mango, contrasting the creamy yoghurt and honey mousse. Not to mention, all the fruits on the plate are my favourite! Finishing off with freeze dried raspberries! Before I got to dig in, a syrup was poured on and everything was gone within 5 minutes! haha
The other dessert was a different take on the old school banana split!
OMG. How good does this look? When it was placed on the table, it was love at first sight! This was definitely nothing like the old school banana split with the napoleon ice cream. This was WAY WAY WAY better! A beautifully rum caramelised baby banana served on homemade banana bread and sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts. Ooh-la-la! This is one sexy dessert!
I only had one bite and I was definitely in loveeee! hehe
To top the night off, we were served some beautiful petit four of white chocolate truffles with toasted coconut and strawberry jam. These reminded me of a more delicious version of a lamington! hehe
I also couldn’t resist ordering a pot of green tea just to make myself less guilty. haha
Everything was just amazing and it’s really hard for me to choose a favourite. But I have to say the one dish that makes me excited (even by looking at the photos) is the Milawa duck breasts! hehe It was definitely a fun-filled, delicious night and I have to say, it is very exciting to see a chef being so enthusiastic about fresh local produce! His passion is definitely inspiring!
So if you’re looking for a place to go and celebrate a special occasion or just want to treat yourself to something delicious, head to No. 8 by John Lawson and I can assure you that you would not be disappointed! In fact, there would be a Coldstream Hills wine dinner that would be held at No. 8 By John Lawson as part of the Good Food Month, so what better time than to head down there on the 14th of November? For more information, please click here.
So what are you waiting for? Head down and try the delicious food for yourself! hehe and oh, did I mention? We were lucky enough to be given a loaf of the delicious potato, honey and rosemary bread to enjoy it at home! Woohoo!
This is one bread that John Lawson himself cannot stop talking about and it is through months of testing with baker Ed Parker. So you know, it would be delish! hehe So hurry! Make your bookings now!
Disclaimer : I was invited to the launch by Media Moguls and No. 8 By John Lawson. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity!