Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hare & Grace

So what can I say? When I read about some of the wacky combinations that Hare & Grace were whipping up in their restaurant, I knew at once that I had to try these quirky flavors out for myself! Amazingly enough, the fates were in my favor the day I decided to go as when I called Hare & Grace up, they said that they had a table just ready for me!
Starting from the top of the steps, I began my descent down towards the entrance and finally into the wonderland that was Hare & Grace. The interior had a very rustic feel to it with twigs and branches lining the ceiling and this made the restaurant look as though it had tree roots penetrating through it's roof. Because of these branches, it looked like we were standing underneath a gigantic tree in a rabbit hole and additionally, standing up at the front desk, in his own little jar was an adorable hare statue that reminded me of the White Rabbit, making the place seem very Alice in Wonderland-esque! 
The restaurant was split up into two spaces, the Dining Room and the Minibar and we were seated in the Dining Room. As expected from a fine dining restaurant, the service was impeccable and the friendly waiter kindly explained to us all the different parts of the menu so that it was easier to make our decision. The menu was definitely vague and only listed 4 to 5 ingredients at most so his help was definitely appreciated by me. 
While we were waiting for our composite dish to arrive, a basket (that was reminiscent of a bird's nest) containing bread was brought out along with the most perfectly formed quenelle of butter I have ever seen! Just looking at it sitting proudly on that slab of stone, I remember being so impressed and it actually tasted just as good as it looked. It was soft, creamy and worked perfectly with the bread and sea salt.
Seared Scallops with 'licorice', grapefruit ketchup and shaved pork neck - $22
When our composite dish came out, I had trouble containing my excitement and not digging into it immediately as it was actually the reason why I wanted to try Hare & Grace in the first place. Not being a fan of licorice, I was kind of skeptical as to how they would make all the elements on the plate work together as they were all so vastly different! Online reviews however, that I had read about this dish had all being really positive so I was very eager to see how they would pull this off. The scallops were cooked beautifully and had a delightfully crisp outside and translucent centre. Eating the scallops alone would've been perfect enough for me but with the addition of the ketchup and licorice, the dish became even more flavoursome and had a real punch to it. All in all, the different and interesting flavors actually complemented each other so well in this particular composite and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the dish. 
Otway Ranges Pork Belly with mussels, clams, cereals, burnt leek and ham bouillon - $39
For my principal dish, I ordered the pork belly as I'm a massive fan of pork belly and when I saw that the dish included my favourite types of shellfish in it as well, I knew I couldn't say no. While the pork belly was indeed enjoyable, I wished the crackling could've had more of a crunch to it when I bit down as I prefer my crackling crisp but besides that, the meat of pork belly was so mouthwatering and not overly fatty which I really liked. I generally don't mind eating leek but unfortunately I couldn't bring myself to finish the burnt leek in this dish, it just tasted so oily to me and I really wasn't a fan of the burnt taste that it had. Other than those small setbacks though, the rest of the dish was delicious and I found myself wanting more of the shellfish after I finished off my last piece. 
Sticks 'N' Stones Apricot Sorbet with chocolate, pistachio, cinnamon and rosewater curd - $15
Now it's time for dessert! How magnificent does this dessert look? It was a combination of beautiful apricot sorbet encased in squid ink with frozen chocolate ganache chunks, rosewater curd, pistachio crumbs, squid ink and cinnamon sticks. This dish was an absolute stunner both visually and taste wise. I'm so glad that Hare & Grace decided to switch out the wasabi ice cream for the apricot sorbet in this dish as I'm definitely not too fond of wasabi and the sorbet was really refreshing! While I did enjoy the squid ink (Movida has forever changed my outlook on squid ink and turned me into a devout follow), the best part of this dish was the frozen ganache, it wasn't overly rich and was just the perfect amount of chocolatey goodness for me. On the whole, I really liked this dessert and now I'm just further convinced that you can never go wrong with squid ink.
My trip down the rabbit hole was definitely an interesting and mouthwatering one! The entree and dessert were truly unforgettable dishes and I definitely want to come back here again to sample some of their other quirky sounding desserts. Overall I thought Hare & Grace's dishes were bold, innovative and had a molecular gastronomy touch to them which really made them stand out in my mind and made me feel as though I was eating food from an entirely different land. If you're looking for a memorable experience with quality food and want a place with an enchanted ambiance to share with someone, look no further than this wonderland hidden in the CBD! 

Hare & Grace
Location:
525 Collins St  Melbourne VIC 3000
Contact: (03) 9629 6755
Opening Hours:
Mini Bar
Coffee
Mon - Fri - 11:30am - late
Bar snacks and meals
Mon - Fri - 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Mon - Fri - 5:30pm - late
Dining Room
Lunch
Mon - Fri - 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Dinner
Mon - Fri - 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Mon - Fri - 6:00pm - late
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays
Pricing: $$$$
Hare & Grace on Urbanspoon

Have you tried squid ink before? Have you read Alice in Wonderland?

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