So traditionally I am not really a fan of Valentine's Day - commercial, Americanised blah blah blah. I'm sure you have heard it all before. But Valentine's Day seems to becoming more widely celebrated in Australia. Is this because we are becoming more commercialised and Americanised? Probably. Do we (as a collection nation) know the story behind Valentine's Day? Probably not. I decided to delve a little deeper i.e. visit Wikipedia and here's what I found out.
"The holiday is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496."
Ok- so this thing had been going on for a little longer than I thought- and I must admit that I do like receiving flowers and chocolate, so maybe I should be paying more attention.
I started mentioning Valentines Day to C to work out what we would do. I think he was on alert, as last Valentine's Day was pretty abysmal on his part! After much too-ing and fro-ing, C removed me from the decision making process (HOW RUDE!) and decided to book at Reserve Cellar Restaurant at Maleny.
I was a little mad, not really wanting to drive to get to lunch, but decided that I would not complain and go with the idea. Luckily I did- it was a lovely day- Maleny is totally cute (another post on their Co-Op soon) and Reserve Cellars was delightful.
Reserve Cellars is set on the Landsborough-Maleny Road, a couple of km's from the main town centre of Maleny. The chef, Kieran Reekie and restauranteur, Stephen Heffernan have set up shop in a reproduction Queenslander. The restaurant is homely with it's exposed beams, but also quite elegant, fine dining style.
As expected, the wine list is extensive, but unexpectedly there are some very reasonable by the glass prices ($9,$10 and $11). Luckily C was driving. I was in a red mood (the colour of hearts afterall) until I turned to the cocktail page. This is when the moral dilemma started- can I go to a restaurant specialising in wines and order a cocktail? You probably already know the answer. With a Lychee and Passion martini on the list- I most certainly could. Now I know what you are thinking- have a cocktail and a glass of wine?! Vast past experience denotes that I CANNOT mix alcohol. It's spirits OR wine. Not both.
The lychee and passion martini was strong but lovely. I think the passion was actually replaced with lemon- but I really didn't mind. The combination was fresh and zingy. Lemon zest added some extra colour and overall the concoction was very smooth.
Choosing an entree proved difficult. I rather fancied the look of the scallops (obviously!), the steamed and fried Mooloolaba Prawn dumpling (perhaps in the spirit of Chinese New Year too), and the sticky anise beef cheek. With these tough choices, I even considered having three entrees instead of an entree/main. Control got the better of me, and I decided on the scallops. You may have been able to predict the outcome but internally, it was a real struggle. C chose the dumplings, so that made me happy, confident that I could at least try two of my three choices.
The mains didn't attract the same amount of attention from me, and I chose the duck, whereas C was really stumped and ended up going with the beef (predictable too!).
When the scallops arrived, I was breathtaken. For $19- I was shocked at the size of the entree- 5 scallops! Unbelieveable. Usually I am only served 2 or 3 scallops for considerably more money. Those beautiful sea creatures were piled high on a delicious bed of creamy cauliflower puree, topped with micro herbs and beautifully bright tarama.
The scallops were delicious- perhaps a little underdone but still juicy and soft and pillowy. I couldn't get enough of the delighfully cauliflower puree and considered licking the plate, but thought better of it. The rest of the diners, mostly 45 Y O+ didn't look like they would appreciate that sort of display! The micro herbs didn't really deliver too much extra flavour, but honestly, I was more than happy with the pairing of the puree and the scallops.
C's dish arrived, and I had to admit, it also looked pretty good. I think there is secretly some sort of competition between us to see who can order the better dish- and in this occasion, neither of us were willing to concede defeat. And to be honest, I'm not sure either of us should. C's steamed dumplings were beautifully soft- and the prawn and herb flavours were some of the best I have ever tasted. The fried dumplings, seemed to be crunchy and incredibly light without being oily. They nicely displayed the versatility of the dish, proving that steamed and fried can both be great.
My confit duck leg with peppered duck and orange and beetroot ($35.50) arrived, and after the fabulous entree- I expected big things. I disected the salad- tasty enough, but not enough to blow my mind. The orange was a little bitter but the shredded beet was flavoursome. The duck breast on the side was next to try and I was a little disappointed. The meat was not overcooked but really lacked any serious flavour seeming to be, what I could describe, as a little bit soggy. There were also little sausagy type things on the side (not sure!) and they were interesting and tasty.
Last on the list to try, was the main event, the duck leg. The duck leg took the dish to another level. The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and falling off the bone and the rich mash and jus were perfectly suited. This duck leg confirmed that other cuts, can ofter kick breast meats butt! I cleaned the plate leaving only a small piece of breast meat which C prompltly swooped accross and took.
C's pan roasted beef with roasted potato's and jerasulem artichokes ($38.50) arrived and was very tender. The meat melted in your mouth and felt so smooth it was silky. The 'Cafe de Paris' butter sauce and roasted potatos were a nice touch. It is worth noting that the beef was cooked to medium perfection (which C requested).
We also ordered some greens ($8) to go along with the meals as I was in need of a bit of a vegetable hit. We needent have worried, as there was plenty of food without the addition.
Dessert time came, and although I was full to the brim, I had eyed off the lemon creme brulee with fig and ginger bread earlier, and it had not left my mind. C also 'had to have' Assiette of Chocolate. Both were $13.50.
When my plate arrived it was absent of fig. Such a shame, because I was really looking forward to some figgy goodness, but life goes on and I dug into the creme brulee. Upon breaking the caramel, I dove into the brulee and found the sugar to be very grainy. I'm not sure the top was caramelised enough, hence excess sugar being left behind. The lemon flavour was not very apparent and the brulee was not as rich as I'd have liked. On the positive side, I did not leave feeling sick from eating too much creamy creme and the pair made a nice substitution for the fig. Again, I'd have liked more flavour from the ginger crumbs and it always miffs me a little bit when the changes aren't noted by the staff. This happened a couple of times throughout the afternoon and although the meal was still delicious- it's nice to be told.
C liked his chocolate assiette which included Fondant, Terrine, Brownie and Chocolate Ice Cream. The fondant was particularly rich but delightful. The gold leaf added detail and looked spectacular.
We walked into Reserve at about 1:15 and didn't end up leaving until 2 1/2 hours later. Although the service wasn't particularly fast, we weren't left waiting long between courses and it was nice to be able to relax thoroughly without feeling like we were taking up table space. The service was seamless throughout the afternoon and a number of attentive staff were quick to refill water, explain the menu and check that everything was ok.
Reserve was a wonderful destination, so wonderful, I would like to arrange to take the food bloggers there on a bus. There are also some cool ideas that reserve have listed at the back of their menu like the french lessons whilst eating and drinking with Mimie Pichenot, their resident French staff member! Fabulous idea- they really sound like my kind of lessons!!
I was utterly impressed by Reserve. I will be heading back soon, and taking some friends AND a designated driver. So Valentine's Day this year was a winner. What about for you? Lover of hater of V day??
Reserve Celler Maleny
840 Landsborough- Maleny Rd, Maleny
Mimie Pichenot (French Tutor)