Do you remember when you were a kid and doing silly stuff for a laugh was the best thing that could happen to you during the day? A favorite of mine while growing up were the giant spinning cups in playgrounds, where all your mates piled into the contraption and span it until someone starting crying out for their mum or someone vomited and then everyone would have to go home. Always such fun, I tell you what isn't fun.....riding one of these when your a little older, with freakish childhood balance control gone, and with a belly full of food. That's exactly what Daz and I did after a recent meal at the Tea Rooms of Yarck.
Yarck is a 'blink and you'll miss it' town north east of Melbourne. In our case we made the trip out to Yarck specially for lunch. I'm not sure how many people randomly stop by for lunch. Judging by the amount of people that day, a fair few made the trip out especially from Melbourne. The space is bright, clean and really welcoming. We were lucky to snag a seat right next to the window in the back area of the restaurant. So to one side we had a view across the garden, to the other we had a view of the entire restaurant, which is always pleasing for me because I get to see other people enjoying their meals and I get a chance to have a look at the dishes I don't get to try myself.
The Tea Rooms don't have a menu, instead the chef comes up with a list of dishes based on the season. The dishes are then written on a massive blackboard in the middle of the dining area. The Kitchen staff are well versed and can answer any question at the drop of a hat. Considering the menu changes frequently, the wait staff are a well oiled machine. As a diner you can opt for a chef's menu, which consists of a taste of almost everything on offer that day, or choose al la carte. Daz and I opted for the al la carte, purely due to portion control. We had plans to go out to dinner that night and didn't want to end up too full to eat again. What we weren't planning on were the serving sizes, truly value for money I say!!
On arrival we were given a big bowl of flat bread, lightly drizzled with fruity olive oil. Seriously a perfect way to kick start the appetite. The bread was really crispy and towards the end Daz and I were fighting over the last remaining pieces.
We ordered an antipastini to share as a starter, which included three individual components!!
First we had the frittata, fluffy egg filled with broad beans, carrots and onions, served with radicchio leaves and Parma ham. So delicious!
Octopus ragout, served with seared veal and tuna mayonnaise. The octopus was so tender, before it even hit your tongue the flesh was already falling apart. It was so saucy and not even a hint of fishy-ness. The veal was such a delight, matching it to the tuna mayo was just a stroke of genius. I wish I could have had a man sized portion of this dish.
As soon as we walked into the room there were plates of terrine laid out waiting to be carved and served. So I was extremely pleased to see that a slice was incorporated into the antipastini. It was pork terrine, with pieces of pistachios speckled throughout, served with some simple veggies and a beetroot salad. It was all delicious. I wish I could make a terrine that good.
We also receive a bowl of warm fluffy bread, with another smaller bowl of fruity olive oil. Just perfect to soak up all that ragout!
We also ordered another dish as a starter. Crudo di pesce, served with Kingfish and fennel tartare, watercress salad, yarra valley salmon roe. I can't remember which fish it was exactly, I'm assuming it was tuna, I should have written it down. The kingfish tarte was fantastic, tiny cubes of kingfish and fennel with a huge dollop of salmon roe on top. Surprisingly the salmon roe wasn't as salty as I had expected, so it added a nice balance to the entire dish.
For mains I decided to have the spaghettini granchio e bottarga, spaghetti with huge chunks of blue swimmer crab, chili, orange zest and sun dried mullet roe. This was delicious!!!!! Most times when you order a crab pasta there's very little crab meat to be seen. But not in this case, there was almost more crab than pasta. Both the pasta and crab were perfectly cooked, the sun dried mullet roe added a nice hint of salt and the chili just brought the whole thing together. Nothing better than a good old hit of heat.
Daz ordered the Rollo de maiale. There was no way in hell Daz wasn't going to order this when the waiter described it as "suckling pig de-boned and stuffed with more suckling pig". It was the saddle stuffed with the leg from the pig, along with herbs, breadcrumbs and nuts. It also came with some roasted potatoes. The pig itself was so fantastic, still so juicy and tender, with the outer skin crispy and delicious. The potatoes had begun to soak up some of the juices which made them impossible to avoid. My only issue was that the potatoes were inconsistent, some were cooked well, while others were still undercooked. Not a massive deal.
By this stage of the meal we were chockers. I contemplated not having dessert, but what was the point coming all the way out here without sampling the sweets. This is where Daz and I had a disagreement, I wanted to order the bomolini - small Italian doughnuts, while he wanted the gratinata - apple blackcurrant crumble. In the end Daz won, I think the promise of home made vanilla ice cream won me over. I'm glad I was swayed to the dark size, the crumble had luscious fruit topped with nuts, oats and huge pieces of crumb, not your average breadcrumb size crumbled, so when you took a bite your mouth was filled with generous amounts of each component. The ice cream was fantastic too, loads of egg yolk and vanilla bean. It was fantastic.
I loved the Tea Rooms of Yarck. To be honest I didnt expect 'comfort food style' from them. There are only two things that I didn't like about it, firstly that I didn't pick the chefs menu and got a chance to sample more dishes, and secondly its so far away meaning a random pop by would be rare. I guess if I want a quick fix I could always pop by Da Noi in South Yarra, their sister restaurant.