My birthday last year was, in a word, unpleasant. If I’d known back in May that my birthday dinner wouldn’t come until October (five months late), I probably would have cried. But you know what? In the long run, the timing didn’t matter, because my late birthday dinner was wonderful and proved that Canberra can compete on the fine dining stage. Behold the prettiness, tastiness, and innovation of Sage Dining Rooms.
Mum, Dad, and I shared the Apertif Special to start, which involved sparkling wine, elderflower liqueur, a rose petal, and other things I can’t remember. It was delicious (and that’s coming from someone who usually doesn’t like cocktails or other mixed drinks).
There were multiple warm bread rolls on offer, but sadly the sourdough tasted rather dull. It needed salt (and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like overly salty things).
My brother and I shared the sake steamed razor clams, chilli, ginger, coriander, which I barracked for because I’d never tried razor clams before. The flavours were lovely but the clams themselves were a bit difficult to eat, what with their elongated floppiness and all.
Dad started with the truffled duck egg custard, crispy bacon, parmigiano reggiano soldiers. This was incredible. The duck egg custard was rich, silky and earthy with truffle, and the toast soldiers were crispy-salty-goodness.
Mum had the paspaley pearl meat, ginger, watermelon, finger lime. This reminded me of a story I wrote and illustrated as a kid about a girl who found a rabbit and then used magical pearls that she requested from talking oysters at the beach to turn the rabbit back into a human because it was a witch’s spell and then they were friends forever and ever the end. (Yes, I myself had a pet rabbit at the time of writing.)
My brother and Dad next went for the yellowfin tuna ravioli, mojama, avocado cream, garlic croutons, px dressing, and my brother generously let me have an entire “ravioli”. This was made not of pasta but of the tuna itself resting on an incredibly crispy crouton, filled with all manner of tasty delights. Win for ingenuity and taste.
Mum’s next dish was the smoked rainbow trout, eucalyptus snow, carrot granita, pea mousse, potato glass, which I’d been tempted by because of the eucalyptus snow. When I asked to try some, she stared me down before finally relenting and offering up the tiniest, tiniest skerrick of white powder on the tine of her fork. Not going to lie; it definitely looked like my mother was giving me heroin.
Mmm, eucalyptus high.
My second course was the incredible edible garden (v) asparagus, radish, petals, pickled hazelnut. Not only was this gorgeous, but the asparagus mousse was the most ethereally light and fluffy creation I’ve ever experienced. Plus, pickled anything owns my soul.
I loved my lemon quinoa risotto (v), spring greens, garden herbs, textured lettuce, despite its use of evil foam. Vegetables! Vegetables! The quinoa could perhaps have been a tad more lemon-y, as in truth it tasted like 80% butter, but I will never stop loving the toasted-nutty-salty-wild-rice-quinoa-assorted-other-grains-sprinkled-on-top-that-tasted-like-popcorn-but-better-better-better. So good.
See? See? This is why I don’t like foam. It looks like a leprechaun vomited all over the warm chocolate & lapsang souchong fondant, kiwifruit foam, passionfruit sorbet that my parents both ordered. Leprechauns aside, though, Dad loved this while Mum wasn’t as keen. Unfortunately the fondant lacked a soft melting centre, and the smokiness was overpowering in Mum’s and my view. But yes, Dad was a fan.
My brother and I each ordered the butterscotch crème brulee, elderflower ice cream, brandy snap, salted caramel. This deconstructed take on a crème brulee was fabulous. The torched toffee played off the rich butterscotch mousse, the tiny buds of lavender provided a burst of freshness that brought out the floral hints in the elderflower ice cream, and I have no idea what the waxy crumble bits on the plate were, but they existed.
Thank you for a wonderful birthday dinner, family of mine and Sage Dining Rooms! And just think… because I’m posting this three months after the dinner which was five months after my birthday, it’s now only four months until my next birthday. Hurrah!
Question Time: Have you ever used magic to turn a rabbit into a human? (Best question ever.)