Royal Mail Hotel
98 Parker Street, Dunkeld
(03) 5577 2241
On Good Friday, Mister G and I had decided to take a detour on the way to the Grampians and have lunch at the Royal Mail Hotel bistro. This had taken a bit of convincing, as a detour to Dunkeld would add an extra hour to our trip – however, i was certain that the extra hour would be worth it and that we’d be as happy as flies on pie afterwards.
The restaurant itself is a minimalist, open dining room which serves to highlight the Royal Mail Hotel’s fundamentals of flavour, texture and respect for produce. I was told that most of the produce is organic, grown onsite and harvested daily from the restaurant’s own kitchen garden, which certainly adds to the appeal of the food as i’ve recently become obsessed with the idea of growing my own vegetables. Nothing like seeing good produce in practice!
To start, we got the fried chilli chicken with cos lettuce and fenugreek mayonnaise to share. i had no idea what fenugreek was (turns out its a plant used for its leaves and seed in curries – who would have thought?) but i loved this mayonnaise. It complemented the chicken perfectly and was tangy and creamy without being overkill like mayonnaise ordinarily is. The chicken was tasty and well cooked – overall, it was a good starter and a surprisingly sizeable dish.
For the mains: I got the slow roasted suckling pig with nashi pear, turnip, zucchini and black mustard pickle. The crackle on the pork was amazing, and the flavours of the nashi pear, turnip and zucchini worked really well together too.
Mister G got the hopkins river black angus eye fillet with beets, horseradish and parmesan. He had requested that the eye fillet be cooked medium-rare, but we were supremely disappointed to find that the steak had been cooked well done! This was quite unexpected from a kitchen of this calibre, and we debated whether or not to send it back. What stopped us was the fact that the exact thing had happened to the table next to us and they had sent their steak back but were told that it would take another 30 minutes for it to be ready… we definitely were not prepared to wait that long so Mister G just said to hell with it and kept his eye fillet. In hindsight, probably not the best idea – we should have said something as Mister G was quite disappointed and the meal certainly wasn’t cheap!
As a side, we also had the potatoes with onion and thyme – super simple, but very delicious.
This dessert was the highlight of the meal. We ordered the chocolate and walnut brownie (pictured peeking out of the left corner) and the hazelnut mousse with chocolate and honeycomb. This mousse had the most wonderful nutty flavour and textures with the hidden pieces of chocolate and honeycomb… i could have easily eaten one of these by myself but (unfortunately) i had to share…
One last slight negative to note about the bistro, Mister G and i noticed that at the start of the meal, we were the only table not to receive bread. After much hushed analysis, we realised that we were not being offered bread because we didn’t order wine. Now, i probably wouldn’t have eaten any bread in any case because it ruins my appetite, but its the principle of the matter don’t you agree?… in my opinion, one of the worst things a restaurant can do is to make you feel like you’re not spending enough money. Definitely one of the negatives of our lunch.
Overall, the meal had its highlights, but the lack of bread (a small point i know – but i can’t get over the feeling of being excluded!) and the overcooked steak tainted the experience. However, this has not deterred me from wanting to try the much praised degustation menu… as long we can get over the long drive!