Long story short, I've been trying to milk the Merivale Winter Feast all I could with what little budget I have. I have yet to be disappointed by the quality of food and service from the various restaurants of the group.
When I first saw the menus on offer at the different restaurants, I must admit that the one for Lotus got me the most excited. It was really such a shame that the place was not within walking distance from where I worked in the city. That's when friends who are happy to drive kick in!
Parking around the place was potentially vein-popping. Being the hot-tempered, road-rage prone driver that I am, the thought of trying to find a park in time for a dinner reservation in such a place makes me want to cringe and hide beneath a rock of some sort. Luckily for my companions on the night 1.) I wasn't the driver and 2.) we were quite lucky and found the very last free spot within a comfortable walking distance from the restaurant.
The restaurant was dimly lit, quite romantic in setting with a gentle flowery pink glow all around. It caused me to struggle a little with the camera, but alas, the place was simply beautiful to dine in.
We all sat down around the table, which was a tad on the cramped side and could definitely have benefited from an extra table, and had a quick chat before selecting our 3 courses for the evening. Service was quick and efficient, and the waiters were polite and patient as we struggled over what dishes to choose.
Parma Prosciutto, Honeydew Melon, Pecans and Endives
SK and a few others on the table ordered the light salad to begin with. I personally thought the presentation of the dish was lacking, as it really just seemed like a pile of stuff on a plate. Taste wise I thought it was pretty good. The prosciutto added nice flavour and a balance of texture to the dish, and on a personal level I've always fancied the nut and endives combination.
Butternut Pumpkin and Parmesan Soup, with poached free range egg and thyme crumb
KT and I dived straight for the soup. I found it a tad on the salty side, but I think for most people the soup would be perfect. The poached egg (with its gooey yolk) was a really decadent and beautiful addition to the soup as was the thyme crumb.
Salad of Calamari, Mint, Cucumber and Coriander with white soy and ginger dressing
I can't remember who it was that ordered this dish, but by the look of it was definitely a light and refreshing way to start off the evening.
Char-grilled Black Angus Rump Steak with Mashed Peas and Red Wine Jus
This was probably the most disappointing dish of the evening. At first glance it looked as if the meat was cooked to absolute perfection, but as soon as people realised that cutting through the steak with a steak knife resulted in a work-out of the arms, we immediately knew something was going terribly wrong.
The cut of meat could have been better for a restaurant of this calibre. I was really quite surprised that such a piece could have been served. Tendons were frequently encountered throughout the meat, and overall the meat was just incredibly tough (even though it was still very pink inside).
Caramelised Pork Belly, Apple Salad, Celeriac Puree
Meanwhile, while others struggled with their steaks, I almost felt guilty indulging in this melt-in-your-mouth quality of a perfectly cooked pork belly.
Oh good lord, I wanted to have seconds...and thirds....and perhaps even fourths.
"Fish of the Day" grilled with Crushed Potatoes, Leek and Tarragon Sauce
FL chose the fish of the day and once again I couldn't really dig in to any myself. Sitting diagonally across a table has its invariable issues when it comes to sharing food. All I know is that she happily tucked away, and didn't have much to complain about.
Pine-Lime Granita with Vanilla Ice Cream
Lastly the desserts arrived to finish off the night with a bang. My Pine-Lime Granita definitely hit the spot as I needed a little acidity to cut through the fattiness and richness of the pork belly. The vanilla bean ice cream was absolutely divine, and has given me great motivation to invest in an ice cream machine at home.
Chocolate Terrine, Butterscotch, and Creme Chantilly
The other option that appeared on our table was the chocolate terrine, which was really essentially a block of beautifully smooth and rich chocolate served with its perfect duo, a quinelle of chantilly cream. It was a simple, yet elegant dish and left us all with a smile on our face.
Overall, apart from a few hiccups with the beef, this trip was quite the success. The place is elegant, beautiful and the service pleasant - definitely worthy of a revisit and a taste of its standard menu.
22 Challis Avenue
Potts Point, NSW 2011
Tel: (02) 9325 9000