The Foraging Quail

It isn’t often when the SO gets more excited about a new dining establishment than me, but he had been watching the development of The Foraging Quail with a close eye and was adamant we drop in the day after they officially opened their doors.

There has been some excitement in the foodie world, seeing as Minh Le (formerly head chef at Deer Duck Bistro) is at the helm of this new establishment and it is right smack between Chai Thai and Vespa Pizza – not quite as close as the bustling Gasworks, trendy James Street or neighbourhood Merthyr Village. With the newly opened Escobar just down the street, will The Foraging Quail mark the birth of a new chic dining mini-strip?

Now while it is often very novel to visit a new establishment just after they have opened, there are some things diners should reserve some forgiveness for. Thankfully service at The Foraging Quail wasn’t one of those aspects that required any – we were greeted at the door and ushered to a table by the window – a perfect vantage point view over the restaurant floor and directly into the open kitchen. Diners seem invited to indulge in the spectator sport of oogling the staff at work (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the kitchen is also keeping a keen eye on the diners at their meals (hey, it works both ways, right?).

The Foraging Quail

The Foraging Quail

The Foraging Quail’s menu concept is share plates and I’d almost call the cuisine modern Australian with French influence. There were the main items, the formage (cheese), desserts and the chefs menu, which is for those who are too spoilt for choice and want a little bit of everything. The share plates are priced between AUD$16 to $26, but what you might not get in gluttonous quantity, The Foraging Quail definitely makes up for it in quality and variety.

Oh, and if you’re not to date on the latest cuisine terminology, they have also kindly included a glossary page to their menu to help educate diners navigate the menu.

Once we had ordered, we were presented with two unexpected treats – the first was a little warm baby baguette tucked between the folds of a crisp white napkin and a knub of softened butter. The baguette held a surprise inside – it was loaded with an abundance of poppy seeds.

The Foraging Quail

The Foraging Quail

Fresh bread with poppy seeds

The Foraging Quail

Gorgonzola croquetas with pumpkin purée

The second was a tiny pyramid of deep fried crumbed gorgonzola croqueta perched on top a smudge of smooth pumpkin purée. This was really moorish and I joked to the SO that I would’ve loved a bucket of these to munch on like popcorn.

It isn’t often you see a head chef quite as hands-on as to have Minh Le (formerly head chef at Deer Duck Bistro) come out with some of the dishes to each table, introducing each element on the plate and sometimes pointing out how they might have been prepared.

The Foraging Quail - The Sea: Chilli prawns, clams, scallops, mussels, bonito malto and seaweed. AUD$24

The Sea: Chilli prawns, clams, scallops, mussels, bonito malto and seaweed. AUD$24

Minh Le presented this dish to us and calmly pointed out each element. I regret I didn’t have a better camera to capture how gorgeous the presentation was. Appropriately named ‘The Sea’, the careful placements brought to mind the collection of treasures washed up by gentle waves. Even the scent whiffing up was a subtle hint of the ocean.

The prawn was sous vided and brushed with paprika oil. I’ve never had sous vide prawns – in fact the notion had never occurred to me to consider cooking seafood that way, but it makes perfect sense to subject such delicate flesh to the precision the technique offers. Is it a sufficient compliment that I actually went home after this meal researching home sous vide machines because of this dish?

The other highlight was the bonito malto. It was an extremely fine pale yellow powder that though strong, held back enough to avoid stumbling into overpowering fishiness. I found myself dipping each morsel into the malto to add an extra touch umami-ness.

My disappointment was the scallops. They were perfectly cooked, seared on one side, but the SO and I agreed there have been sweeter scallops that caressed your mouth with the memories of the sea. These were not overly large either, so perhaps scallop stocks were limited following the long Easter weekend seafood feasting.

The Foraging Quail - Rabbit, pumpkin purée, morels, turnips, broad beans, char leek and truffle jus. AUD$26

Rabbit, pumpkin purée, morels, turnips, broad beans, char leek and truffle jus. AUD$26

The Foraging Quail

The rabbit was the SO’s choice. I found the loin the plainest and least satisfying, while the SO voted the terrine with the best flavour and I favoured the ravioli for its butteriness. The pasta was definitely one of the thinnest I had ever seen.

The Foraging Quail - Gooralie Farm Five Way Pork, apple, chestnut, lotus seeds and baby peas. AUD$23

Gooralie Farm Five Way Pork, apple, chestnut, lotus seeds and baby peas. AUD$23

Not wanting quite to move into dessert after the rabbit, we ordered the Gooralie Farm Five Way Pork on a whim. It included pork croquettes, pork belly, pork roulette and crackling, served alongside two purees – a chestnut and an apple. The apple puree was especially good with the roulette. I found the pork croquettes and belly delightful, but was disappointed by the limpness of my crackling. The SO’s piece was better, so I was the only one left wanting better.

The Foraging Quail

Mint sorbet with crumble

We were then presented with a little mint sorbet palate cleanser. This really popped in the mouth and did exactly as it was supposed to do – clean out the tastebuds in preparation for the next course.

The Foraging Quail - Chocolate Forest Seven Textures of Chocolate with Orange Marshmallow, strawberry and meringue. AUD$23

Chocolate Forest Seven Textures of Chocolate with Orange Marshmallow, strawberry and meringue. AUD$23

The dessert choice was an easy one – while I have an adoration for cheese (much to my mum’s dismay that I might never find a husband for my love of the stinky stuff), the idea of such a variety of chocolate was much too tempting to resist. A forest was promised and was delivered – no expense was spared with the dark bittersweet chocolate in creating the chocolate soil or the mousse, all offset with fresh tart strawberries and the sweet darling mushrooms with caps of orange marshmallow and meringue stalks.

Did we enjoy our meal? Very much so. Were there things we thought could have been improved? Yes, but nothing that would deter us from going back again.

 

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