Guidebook Brae: “one of the greatest meals I have ever had”

Best eating in town

Brae: “one of the greatest meals I have ever had”

Two hours west of the city, Brae produced “one of the greatest meals I have ever had in Australia, and, for that matter, in any part of Europe,” reports James Halliday (regarded by many as Australia’s finest wine writer) in Wine Companion.

“The wind blows in from the south, shakes an old willow and skates through the garden of natives surrounding the ‘homestead’ … the sun peeks through the clouds, lighting the dining room,” writes John Lethlean in The Australian. “Brae, in all its subtle glory, comes alive. It’s almost religious. Chef Dan Hunter’s relaxed gastro-temple has shaken off foodie pilgrimage adolescence and matured into something even more special (pictured: eggplant and salt grass lamb). Eating here is a trip; expensive, wine-centric, stimulating but most importantly, very hospitable. An institution in gestation.”

The opening snacks make a “serious statement of intent,” says Gemima Cody in Time Out: “local stuff, native scrub and obscure proteins all round. Beef tendons are puffed to clouds of mellow, fatty crunch with tart native pepperberry dust giving them a floral shanking. A chewy squid ink pretzel is blasted with pork scratchings – it’s all the roasting pan burnt bits in tasty stick form. Or there’s the raw prawn and finger lime jewels wrapped in a still-stemmed nasturtium leaf, served with its own grilled head. Don’t think. Just crunch.”

The setting might suggest nostalgic “paddock-to-plate” fare, says Conde Nast Traveler, but chef Dan Hunter’s “next-gen techniques and intricate presentations offer a radical evolution of the locavore ethos. A recent ten-course tasting culminated in an eminently craveable braised short rib, scattered with shiitakes, baby kaffir lime leaves, and rock samphire. And a dessert of apple-and-parsnip custard—housed within the crisp, golden skin of a whole parsnip—was at once earthy and innovative, much like Brae itself.”

“Only a true visionary would create ‘haute cuisine’ in the middle of the countryside knowing that ‘they will come’,” says the food blogger Foodie Mookie.

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