Hardy's Veranda Restaurant


Elaine



# THE STAGE

My Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant dining experience, as anticipated, was not only about the destination, but very much the journey taken to arrive at and indulge in the Full Story Menu created by Chef Jin Choi at one of the Adelaide Hill’s most iconic destinations.

Navigating our way through busy schedules, my sister and I managed to secure an 8.00pm reservation on a Saturday evening.

This meant arriving at the Mount Lofty House property shrouded in darkness, but that didn’t detract from the allure as we wondered up the dark stone path through the gardens to reach the slate steps which we climbed to reveal the charm and elegance that is Mount Lofty House.

I don’t know if it was the darkness, or the excitement, but it did take us a moment to gather our wits and find the entrance to the grand building. This in itself made it feel somewhat more like a homestead filled with subtle touches to compliment the heritage of the building.

The entry way was large and open, and instantly you feel the warmth inside. A passing bartender greeted us in the foyer and directed us to the restaurant entrance at the end of the hallway.

I couldn’t initially understand why the entrance would be near the end of the long hallway. It wasn’t until I took in the architecture, had a peek of the bustling kitchen, the views through sheer curtains and the entry with the preserved fireplace and open floor to the cellar that I realised it was setting the tone for an elegant and relaxed evening.

The décor was everything that Mount Lofty House represents, elegant, timeless, classic, refined, and ornate with simple opulence. This was to be expected.

# PREPARATION

I am a planner by nature, so being presented with a menu was unnecessary as I had studied their menu, their website, and their social media since I won. Actually, even prior to that. Needless to say, just as much preparation went in to what I should wear to accommodate the Full Story Menu, because after all, I am now at the age where dressing according to how much I intend to eat is absolutely a priority. #whenfoodisyourhappyplace

We did take a moment to peruse the seasonal offering on the Short Story Menu, but remained committed to The Full Story Menu to complete the journey we had begun, including the paired wine selection to seal the deal.

# THE FULL STORY

As it appears on the menu…

The Full Story Menu

Tuna tartare I nori butter I harissa

Abalone l umami broth l garden turnip

Master stock quail l mustard lettuce l ginger dressing

Pork belly l burnt apple l celeriac

Wagyu beef l scallops l pearl onion l onion jus

Passionfruit sorbet l salted coconut l mandarin curd

Dark chocolate l wafer l puffed rice

In an appreciated twist to the evening, we were presented with appetisers that did not appear on the menu causing confused and excited side glances between my sister and I.

While at first glance this appetiser appeared simple, it was a wonderful starting point to make a diner sit up and pay attention. Delicately balanced on a bed of white hanji, or ‘the paper of Korea’ were two shards of Turkey skin, accompanied by a fresh lime cheek.

Perhaps this was opportunity for someone in the kitchen to pay homage to a personal memory, or perhaps show off some of their flavour combination skills and/or delicate handiwork. Either way, the flavour combination of the rub used on the skin, the slight hint of heat, fresh citrus burst and the crunch of the two bites was a light and delightful way to kick off the menu.

We were then presented with a beautiful round glass case filled with dried native leaves inside and on top sat the carefully presented chargrilled pineapple with mahor. Another non menu appetiser to send us to a sweet and subtle savoury route, before the main event commenced.

I should also take a moment to appreciate the house made sourdough bread provided in a woven bag with a hot rock to keep it warm, accompanied by butter and vegemite butter. Another surprise, another item done exceptionally well. #exceedingexpectations

Tuna tartare I nori butter I harissa

Curious to the eye, especially to an eye that has not experienced this before, this dish was calculated to precision. The combination of all flavours at once tasted clean, fresh and smooth all at once with a little crunch added by the enjoyable seaweed crisp.

The texture of the tuna was slightly overwhelming for my maiden voyage into the world of tartare and I feel the portion of tuna could be decreased slightly to balance with the accompaniment portions. Our waiter Brendan was pleased to see what he read as expressions of delight being our response to the tuna tartare and volunteered the technique used to create the tuna flesh portion, unfortunately this did not help my palate accept the texture.

Abalone l umami broth l garden turnip

I was nervous about this dish. It would be my first experience with abalone. The abalone slices, mussel, garden turnip and just a couple of seaweed leaves sat appearing like a tantalizing fresh spring salad in the bowl placed in front of us, then the aromatic umami broth was poured over the contents of the bowl releasing an abundance of sea scents that made you want to dive right in.

The broth possesses a very obvious ocean flavour in a lovely way and felt thicker than it appeared. The mussel absorbed the broth easily. The abalone slices reminded me of mushroom in appearance and texture. The seaweed was a nice simple yet interesting addition, but the garden turnip was a delightful bit of crunch amongst the soft textures and ocean flavours.

The Asahi sake that accompanied this dish was a particularly wonderful combination and provided an opportunity to cleanse the palate ready for the next chapter. #survivor

Master stock quail l mustard lettuce l ginger dressing

Contrasted against a large heavy black plate, what a uniquely simple and quaint appearing dish this quail was.

The mustard lettuce leave acted as a cocoon to more quail and the flavour the leaf added was gloriously tart and felt like a crisp summer salad in each bite. The addition of the ginger dressing was almost unnecessary as there were so many delightful flavours already happening, but it did reduce the tartness slightly so it would be a nice accompaniment to those that need it.

The quail was cooked to perfection. I would not change a thing.

Pork belly l burnt apple l celeriac

This dish was a visual masterpiece. The combination of each flavour in your mouth is divine. By this stage I was a fan of the leaves being used in each dish, they are a journey of their own. The time taken to select the right piece for each plate is obvious and adds a level of sophistication you would expect of such a restaurant and team. My star of the dish would be the apple shavings soaked in apple cider vinegar. It provided an interesting sweet and tangy option which was by far my preference to accompany the crispy pork belly.

Wagyu beef l scallops l pearl onion l onion jus

This final main dish was chic and astute. This is a fine dining wagyu dish. Do not expect to receive it anywhere that is not fine dining. By the number of plates we had already consumed in the degustation menu, I was almost petrified at what a wagyu beef dish would be like at this late stage, as was the waistband on my skirt.

I could not fault a single item on the plate. There was a slice of wagyu beef, rare, cooked perfectly. Then there was a brisket portion. The brisket was the hero of this dish for me. The meat fell apart at the touch of my fork and the marinade was sticky and sweet in all of the right ways.

The onion jus, onion pearls, garnish and single scallop were a brilliant and sophisticated assortment of accompaniments that separated the two different styles of beef. The crisp cool sensation of the onion pearls added the perfect refreshment to break up the beef and scallop flavours clearing your palate to go back in for more. #thestoryteller

Passionfruit sorbet l salted coconut l mandarin curd

This light hearted dessert screamed crazy, sexy cool. Light, cool and bursting with flavours of spring and summer. While I thought my skirt was straining and the thought of having two more plates to come was overwhelming, this delightful dessert didn’t even touch the sides. It gave me the sensation of total relaxation and I felt as though I’d hit the restart button.

The raspberry dust across the whole dish was a sweet sensation that really was the berry on top for this fun fruity dessert.

Dark chocolate l wafer l puffed rice

This remarkable dessert must be seen to be believed. Elegance, sophistication, class, technique all with a touch of theatrics! This dish was extra and I am still more than okay with that. Who doesn’t love a diva in the final act?

We were presented with a messy masterpiece of white foam, chocolate mousse hidden under dark chocolate shards, a puffed rice wafer, sliced fresh strawberry and raspberry jus. It was delightful to take in.

#thenthemagichappened

Our waiter, along with the sous chef, approached the table telling the tale of the final part of our journey, while adding a spoon of chocolate soil to the plate, followed by raspberry sherbet. A mysterious bowl oozing dry ice frost was presented and with a bang, a dark chocolate sphere was dropped onto our plates followed by a final tap on top to completely shatter the sphere.

What a beautiful disaster we were left with. Now seeing an array of characters sprawled across the plate, including the welcomed addition of flower petals, honeycomb and plenty of shards of the broken dark chocolate sphere.

# THE FINALE

Not quite. This was not the end of the tale Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant. As we descended into our food comas, we were offered a fairy floss cloud with raspberry sherbet. A soft and fluffy finishing touch to a journey of the unexpected, the new, the experimental, the exceeded expectations and sweet sensations of Chef Jin Choi’s masterful Full Story Menu.

From Mt Lofty House, Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, the Maître de, our waiter/sommelier Brendan and Chef Jin Choi and his team in the kitchen, I would whole heartedly recommend diners take a moment to enjoy the journey this elegant part.



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