Hare & Grace
Hare & Grace was the final food stop for cousin trouble and geek hubby’s Melbourne visit. I sent them to the airport after a rather extended lunch there. By this point, we were quite ‘fooded’ out from cramming nearly 20 eating places in the space of 10 days, but still, this meal was so good that we (once again) over-ordered.
And I just have to quote what geek hubby said before we left the restaurant – “if they bring out petit fours I’m gonna howl!“… Ha ha ha!
This was one restaurant that, for some reason, never really sat high on my eating radar. But trouble wanted to give it a go, and when she got me to look at the website, I understood why. The food looked gorgeous!
The restaurant’s interior had a bit of a rustic feel, like a beachside restaurant / hut complete with a nest-like burst of twigs and sticks lining the ceiling. Rather quirky for a restaurant that’s smack in the CBD. It makes you feel like you’re somewhere else…
I confess our first contact with the menu made us feel a little trepidatious, with most of the dishes just playfully listing.. say… four to five ingredients. Unless you ask a lot of questions, it is really hard to guess how the dish will turn out.
Also, the ingredients seemed to lean towards heavier flavours, like parmesan jam, blood pudding and onion essence. Flavours that can be a little scary for the three of us, who tend to prefer dishes that are lighter in character.
Roast scallops | “Licorice” | Black pudding | Grapefruit ketchup $20
For instance, having licorice and ketchup in this scallop dish sounded incredibly wacky on the menu. However, despite our unsureness, it turned out pretty good and the flavours worked.
But the only curious thing was that square of black pudding in the dish. To us, it did not make sense taste-wise.
Heirloom tomato salad | Guacamole | Olive crumbs | Olive oil $16
Next came a colour-burst of tomatoes on a bed of guacamole, and sprinkled with olive dust. Light and pretty enjoyable, except the guacamole was juust a touch too garlicky for me.
Roasted King Mushroom | Coffee | Parmesan jam | Leaves $18
Here’s another weird sounding dish on the menu, but boy did the flavours work marvellously this time! Who would’ve guessed that coffee and parmesan would go so well with those juicy, bouncy king mushrooms? We loved this dish.
The flood of entrées came so quickly that we had to relegate our drinks, bread basket, butter dish and condiments all to the nearby windowsill. This is often how it’s like when you’re dining with cousin trouble and geek hubby.
Seared quail | Melted onions | Bluesberries | Onion essence $18
This entrée came as an ‘afterthought’. We’d initially dismissed it because of its potentially heavy-sounding ingredients. But after our string of wonderful dishes, and with strong recommendations from our lovely waitress, we decided to tack it on to our order.
Crispy soft quail… sesame crumble, mustard, melted onions, blueberries and onion flowers… these components were perfectly combined to create a surprisingly delicate, light and well-balanced dish. Now I know why our waitress kept encouraging us to try it!
All of the above entrées were listed on the menu as ‘composites’, probably a term that describes dishes that have entrée elements but with the flexibility of being shared. We then progressed to the next part of the menu called ‘principals’, akin to larger main dishes.
Seared kingfish | Cured asparagus | Green almonds | Almond curd $39
This dish once again resonated nicely with me because of its delicates notes. All the components were so gently seasoned that you could actually taste the natural ingredient without having to fight past a wall of salt, spice and sauce. The almond curd was just beautiful, as were the dark green cured asparagus, so in-season that it actually tasted grassy!
100 day Grain Fed Rib Eye, East Gippsland 400grm $49
Garden peas | Broad beans | Blueberries $9
Next came a heartier dish from the charcoal grill. A wonderfully sourced slab of Victorian rib eye, served with French fries and green peppercorn sauce. We had it along with garden peas, bright and fresh.
Trouble commented that while it’s a simple English side, properly cooked peas are hard to come by. These peas were full of natural sweetness.
Cucumber salad | Seeded mustard | Yoghurt, Turmeric | Coriander, Mint $10
Our other side dish held Indian culinary influences. Light hints of turmeric and cumin… with big, bold chunks of fresh cucumber that sat on a cushion of yoghurt. It was once again very nicely balanced and inexplicably moreish.
And here’s a random photo of a stray pea on our table… ha ha!
Sticks ‘n’ stones | Chocolate, Wasabi | Pistachio, Cinnamon | Rosewater curd $15
We decided to finish our last meal together with a blast… by sharing all four desserts on the menu between the three of us!
This photogenic landscape-like dessert was probably the most unusual of them all. Wasabi ice cream was coated with squid ink… and with it, a lemony rosewater curd, frozen chocolate ganache, herbaceous pistachio crumbs and squid ink sticks.
Let’s just say that, as pretty as it looked, we found this dessert a bit too quirky. Too much was going on, and I mainly enjoyed the non-quirky component, which was the frozen chocolate ganache. The wasabi ice cream tasted like a creamy tangy sorbet with hints of… garlic!
Orange & lemon | Whipped buttermilk | Boiled orange | Confit zest $15
I’m normally not a fan of orange-based desserts, especially jaffa chocolate. But this was surprisingly good! Light, fluffy, zesty and not too sweet.
In fact, it was so good to the point that it was my favourite dessert out of the four! It’s impressive how a wonderful dish can change your palate’s perspective. I really enjoyed this dessert, oranges and all!
Cucumber, Lime | Mango | White chocolate | Cucumber sorbet $15
Our waitress queued this dessert here so that it’d function as a sort of palate cleanser before the final one.
Cucumber sorbet, mango gel, hog nog crumble, lime jelly and scrolls of fresh cucumber. The rich and rounded vanilla ice cream and the white chocolate cream cheese helped counterpoint the piquant parts of this dessert.
Lemon ‘liquid’ tart | Sesame, Lemon | Passionfruit juice | Broken promises $15
Our final (and reputedly most popular) dessert was playfully called ‘broken promises’, presumably because it’s quite an off-centre, deconstructed lemon tart. There isn’t any pastry, instead the liquid curd is surrounded by a white chocolate and tahini skin, reminiscent of cheese rind. There’s also passionfruit gel, sable crumble biscuits, chantilly cream and fragrant edible violas.
The curd tasted mellow rather than tart, but the passionfruit gel helped bring up the tanginess of the dish. I also liked the curiously sharp tobacco-like spiciness of the tahini skin surrounding the curd.
I apologise if this post comes across as too gushy, anecdotally one of the worst sins that a food blogger could commit. But it’s just one of those meals where almost all the dishes managed to hit a high note with us. It was a great way for cousin trouble and geek hubby to end their food tour of Melbourne.We were so full that it felt quite fitting (and funny) when a large wagon taxi was flagged down to take us home.
After this meal at Hare & Grace, I now have chef Ray Capaldi on my food radar. This means I’m pretty keen to visit Marmalade & Soul in Fitzroy North, since it was opened by him.
And finally, I’d like to extend a big thank-you to our excellent waitress, Randi, who took care of us really well. Randi recommended that beautiful quail entrée, and she queued the timing and order of our tidal wave of dishes perfectly.
For the rest of the places that trouble and geek hubby covered this visit, you may want to read this teaser post.