There are fewer rooms available for accommodation in Birragurra than covers at Brae but this is balance is slowly shifting as more rooms open up and Brae itself has plans for overnight hospitality. As things turned out we ended up staying one night in one place and another somewhere else due to my error in making bookings! So our surprise accommodation was at the Tarndwooncoort Homestead in the Farmers Cottage where we were welcomed at very short notice by the very charming Tom.
Having spent some time in the local pub conversing with the landlord and following friendly exchanges with our B&B owner we learnt that Brae is a very welcome addition to Birragurra and the staff have integrated into the small village extremely well and are highly thought of. Our positive impressions of Brae began even before we stepped foot into the premises.
Tom very kindly sacrificed his Friday night and gave us a lift there and back in his white vintage automobile which was a real treat to ride in. Most accommodation in Birragurra will provide car transfers to Brae as part of the price.
The restaurant decor is very organic. It's calm and unpretentious and we are welcomed warmly but no one is over familiar. We feel comfortable and willingly and happily place ourselves in the assured hands of the Brae team.
The first section were little snack like, bite sized options that we share from the same plate so there's two of everything. This seems to be a bit of a trend we have experienced at the likes of St Crispin and Jim McDougall at Stefano's.
- Salt and vinegar potato
- Burnt pretzel. treacle, pork
- Hapuka and crisp skin
- Otway shiitake, eggplant, white miso
- Iced oyster
- Beef tendon and mountain pepper
- Asparagus, sea butter, olive plant
- Turnip and brook trout roe
- Prawn, nasturtium.finger lime
Dishes to note are the amazing iced oyster that comes in its shell with a green coloured topping and it's oyster icecream that is salty and sea like with a hint of sweetness and it's lipsmackingly good.
The turnips with the trout roe is surprisingly flavoursome. I always thought of turnip being bland but this is just so good.
The prawn turns out to be prawn heads and then the meat is wrapped in nasturtium leaf in a little cube. Interesting...I've never really been one to suck on prawn heads as the flavours are a bit too intense but I know there are some people that love this....
For the next round of food we move away from share plates to having our own individual plates of food.
- Calamari and fermented celeriac, barbecued peas and beef fat
- Warm ricotta and nettle, roasted chicken and brassicas
- Egg yolk, potato and Jerusalem artichoke, sauce of Comte and vin jaune
- 8 year old grass fed Angus, globe artichoke, wild rice, pickles
- Wessex Saddleback, onions soured in whey, cauliflower, wild cabbage
Highlights were the barbecued peas that tasted like they were covered in gravy but they weren't! The fermented celeriac added a different dimension of flavour too.
The roasted chicken didn't actually consist of any chicken meat but more essence of chicken in a clear distilled consomme like liquid with two slices of crispy skin and some greenery. A whole new concept of roast chicken and in spite of no meat, the flavour was all there,
Runny, cheesy egg is always a favourite flavour and this flavour note is made more complex in the Jerusalem artichoke dish.
Wessex Saddleback is a delicious piece of juicy meat with a bonus bone to gnaw on! A little more traditional but yummy all the same.
And then the dessert journey begins...
- Quince simmered with onions, honey, cultured milk
- Parsnip and apple
The parsnip and apple is really a treat and I don't even like parsnips! The magic of Dan Hunter has turned said disliked parsnip into a crispy pastry like cone that is sweet and light and enhanced with an apple cream.
- Rhubarb and pistachio, blood and preserved blackberry
After so many taste sensations, I am really full and when the final petit fours arrive prettily presented I have to decline but I do give it a nibble and there's a nutty fragrance from the pistachio, a hit of sharp rhubarb There's a chew and I know the question is what does the blood add. It adds a kind of ferrous tang, a slight saltiness I guess. I think it's the concept that wires the brain to think it's weird and a bit challenging to approach but in the tasting well, for me it's not like it's overpowering. Put it this way, a vampire would be disappointed!
Brae is a very special dinner that is enjoyable from the moment it begins and continues to delight in my memories.