We’ve been all over the place since the start of this year, working on most public holidays, Valentine’s Day and more recently my birthday. It’s been chaotic to say the least. Having heard via social media the closing of the Print Hall Dining Room, a place that’s been on the wish list for 18 months now, we decided to book in for the final degustation evening as a belated valentines day and birthday celebration.
Headed by Executive Chef Dan Fisher, the 7 course degustation held over two evenings would highlight a combination of favourite and new dishes.
Seated and ready for an evening of food, we firstly decline the wine pairing, at $80.00 it’s seems expensive for what we are already paying for the evening. And instead, order a glass of sparkling and pint of beer from the book sized drinks menu. Print Hall is known for it’s elaborate cellar choices.
We are offered freshly shucked oysters and ask for a couple. I’m not really into seafood but these are stunning, if I can refer to oysters as stunning? Served ice cold greatly enhances the enjoyment of them.
We enjoy two dishes of savoury complimentary amuse-bouche.
Scarlet Prawn Crudo, Smoked Mussels, the first of many oversized plates, arrive to the table. I liked the silkiness of the raw prawn which was seasoned and lightly oiled, it left the smokiness of the mussels to be enjoyed the most.
On paper ‘Chicken of the Sea’, Oscietra caviar, Foie Gras is the dish I am excitably anticipating the most, probably because of the curious play on words. It turned out to be one of my favourites for the night. The perfectness of the chicken fooled my eyes for a split second into thinking it was a paste, I hadn’t even finished the first glass of sparkling yet! Ocean and chicken, interesting combinations. Cubes of creamy salty foie gras along with jelly fish and caviar for the true connoisseur went so well in the quiet company of chicken.
I am sorry to say my camera failed to take a worthy shot of the Wood Grilled Scampi, Hemp, saltbush. It’s always a bit of a struggle to photograph dinners with the prehistoric 400D canon. This was Derek’s favourite dish for the evening – creamy texture, intense salty and woody flavours. Hemp and macadamia crusted scampi. Topped with leaves from the native Australian saltbush. A sip of the sparkling went down a treat after this.
Next, we receive complimentary house baked brioche with butter, the warm sweet smell of the brioche was intoxicating and this bread disappeared too fast.
Another apology here, I dived in without snapping the photo first. The tiniest pieces of potato covered in fermented green bean and topped with crunchy fat hen/chicken and some sharp goats curd. A Stinging Nettle leaf (minus the stinging little hairs) garnished the dish and had a green flavour.
The final savoury course incorporated a dark meat – Duck from Wagin, fennel, slippery jack, and it was the heavier of the savoury courses. This dish was delightful. The honey glazed skin, sweet fatty taste and tender redness of the meat was perfect on its own. On recommendation from the waitress we combined all three items of duck, sweet pineapple fennel and gooseberry sauce. The sauce was overpowering and it was better restricted to tiny amounts.
The degustation veers into the direction of cheese, Buche D’Affinois is hidden incredibly well beneath gingerbread crumbs and berries on a overly wide brimmed plate. Such a beautiful plate. The creamiest of French cheeses. A delightful soft cheese. This was a nice course to set us on the sweet path for the rest of the evening.
An ice cold water melon granita and jelly palate cleanser erases any lingering flavours. Complimentary again. I made the mistake of sipping my sparkling which resulted in a short lasting weird mouth taste.
With a name like ‘Native citrus, wattleseed, Rosella’, we really had no inkling as to what to anticipate here. Clearly, a tribute to Australian bush food and something as a born Australian I’m embarrassed to say I’m unfamiliar with. Except for Rosella tomato sauce which I know has no relevance or connection other then the name. Luckily with each course the wait staff would introduce the details of the plate shortly after setting it down on the table. Although, with the background noise it was a little hard to catch some of the descriptions. If only I could be a fly on the wall in that kitchen!
There were a lot of flavours and textures going on here, a savoury crisp round pastry topped with native citrus, meringue shards and a blood plum cold sorbet. It was a pin pong game of sweet and tart, back and forth, crunch and soft. This was memorable.
The above course was the final one on the degustation menu, however, to our surprise and absolute delight, the waitress sets two spoons on the table! An indication that something is coming our way. Complimentary, Whisky and Cigar, a popular course from other degustation evenings appears in front of our eyes. We must have looked excited because we managed to stir a chuckle from the waitress. This was a fun dessert. A small cup of sweet velvety pastry cream topped with Chivas whisky, and an edible cigar made of black tea pastry and chocolate. Garnished with a tiny gold flake. I can see why this has turned into an unofficial signature dish for the dining room. It was outstanding!
The evening was a long gastromic journey that I didn’t want to end. The menu was something, an elaborate display of native Australian ingriedients combined with a few European twists like crudo and foie gras. I left Print Hall buzzing from the newly experienced tastes. It was by leaps and bounds one of the most indulgent experiences and a great choice for our belated celebrations. It’s one thing to receive a complimentary dish however several, was a knock out – thank you!
So, I wish I could say to you ‘you must try the degustation at the Print Hall’, I cannot, because this was the last I’m afraid. The dining room will be under going renovation for a brand new eatery to open later this year. The main bar and the Apple Daily Bar and Eating House are open and I highly recommend the Print Hall bar menu, they do an outstanding potato gnocchi!
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