Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I was in the Hunter Valley over the weekend for my three year anniversary (yay!) and insisted was lucky enough to be taken to Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Wines. And it was delicious. It had just started to sprinkle as we stepped out of the cab, and the maĆ®tre d' rushed out with an umbrella to greet us. The restaurant overlooked the sprawling vineyards and we watched the sun set slowly, tinting everything a pale pink. It was stunning.




We had a choice between the tasting menu ($110pp for food only, $170pp with Hungerford Hill Wines, $210pp with alternate premium wines, or $200pp with single malt whiskey), two courses ($75) or three courses ($95). I really wanted to pick the tasting menu, but Milo  for some reason is super against "lots of little dishes that don't make you full". This saddens me to say, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish a seven course meal, even if the dishes were tiny, by myself. So we decided to go for the three course meal.



The waiters walked around with big white platters of these little house-baked bread rolls, all lined up in little, neat rows. The one in front is a wholemeal roll with sesame seeds, and the one hiding in the back is a caramelised onion brioche. They were both delicious, although I preferred the wholemeal roll. But the real star of the show was...




The butter. I've never been a big fan of bread rolls and butter, I've always been a balsamic vinegar and olive oil girl. My little brother, on the other hand, has a thing for it. When he was eight, we were at a fancy restaurant for Mother's Day lunch, he stood up and calmly asked the waiter for "good, nice butter". When I saw this cylindrical cloud on our table, I quickly sent him a picture of it. His response? "Ohh." 


It was absolutely amazing, like the lightest whipped cream and the perfect amount of saltiness. Perfection. 

And the waiters kept walking around with their trays of bread all night.






The amuse bouche, with compliments of the chef, was polenta with diced peach and crispy quinoa. They were served on giant white plates, which my photo didn't really do justice. In fact, none of these photos are very great, due to lighting issues. Sorry :(






Milo had the confit Milly Hill lamb belly, with stuffed zucchini flowers and lemon zest. And lily pad leaves, which is what I'm calling those round leaves, because unfortunately they changed their online menu since Saturday, and I can't look to check. Whoops! But it was so, so good; the lamb was soft and juicy, and the zucchini flower went beautifully with the cauliflower puree.



I had confit pork belly (I have a thing for pork belly) and blue swimmer crab. It was absolutely delicious, and there wasn't even any crackling!



The palette cleanser was fennel sorbet, which was surprisingly delicious.


Milo had venison with brussel sprouts and broccolini - apologies again for my terrible memory (so unlike me!) - I blame the yummy Moscato I was enjoying. He really enjoyed it, although it was a bit too rare for my liking.




And I had Duck Tortellini with beetroot puree and goats cheese, and caramelised onions and carrots. And the sprinkling in the back was saffron pepper! (I think) It was absolutely divine. Embarrassing confession: I was full after eating one and a half tortellini ): I made sure Milo ate every last schmear of beetroot puree and goats cheese, though!




For dessert, we were tossing up between the baked caramelised white chocolate fondant, or vanilla bean creme brulee. By this stage, I was so full that I couldn't eat anything else, so we ended up having one three course meal and one two course. But then the waitress came by and told us about this new dessert the chef was testing out. Unfortunately, I can't remember what it was called, and it isn't on the new menu. It was something earthy! It had a few different components - coconut sorbet, black sesame, toasted coconut, pomegranate, pistachio and (this is what made us choose it) chocolate mousse rocks.



What are chocolate mousse rocks, you say? They are little domes of chocolate mousse, dipped into nitrogen and instantly freezing! And they were amazing. They taste exactly how you imagine. The good news is, you can get them on the menu! Not the exact dessert we had, but this is on the menu now: Chocolate Mousse Rocks - vanilla marshmallow, salted peanut brittle biscuit, cumquat, warm malted milk. Please, please, please go and try them!

Our dessert was very interesting. All the flavours blended together really well - the sorbet and the caramelised desiccated coconut was light and refreshing, while the black sesame added something else that I can't quite describe. It was really, really good, although it may look and sound strange. The rocks were definitely the best thing, though, so I'm glad they decided to make it its own dessert rather than mixed in with everything else.





And they gave us these mini macarons as well! Raspberry and passionfruit. We both preferred the raspberry, but they were perfect - look at the feet!

So dinner was a fabulous success, and so was the wine! Muse's hat is definitely well deserved, and I shall be back soon. Hopefully (:

Muse Restaurant and Cafe
Hungerford Hill Wines
Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
P: 02 4998 6777
E: muse@musedining.com.au

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