Sunday 13 March 2016

Sunday's @ Australasia

I can't believe it was nearly two years ago I wrote about taking my mum to Australasia for afternoon tea (with a difference!). Australasia to me is a really special place to come for food or a few cocktails at the bar. Everything is handled with such precision and delicacy, in my experiences of dining there in the past, I've always thought that you're made to feel special.

Today was no exception. On the warmest day of the year so far, James & I headed down under into Australasia for a spot of Sunday lunch. (NB: I don't think there's any other underground restaurant that could lure me out of the sun (sun! in Manchester... in March!) to sit underground for three hours - which has to speak volumes for the decor.

It's light and warming, everything has such a fresh appeal. Its timeless design means it looks just as new and inviting as it did when I first went in 2012.

If you've read the blog post from the time I took my mum, you'll know their sushi is a winner with me. We began with three starters to share, a ginger + pear bellini (amazing) and beer.

Seared Teriyaki Beef Nigiri 

The beef here was gorgeous and juicy and when dipped in soy sauce was the ultimate savoury start to lunch.

Tuna, Chilli + Mango Californian Rolls

Fruit and fish could seem like a slightly odd combo but the flavours worked a treat together - and it went especially well with my bellini. Really light and refreshing.

What I didn't manage to catch on cam was our host grating fresh wasabi for us - which we got a bit over enthusiastic about (read: mouths on fire)... I'll never learn though, I always think I can handle more heat than I can.

Grilled Black Tiger Prawns

Oh my god. These prawns. This photo doesn't do the size of them justice! They were huge. So meaty and slid easily away from the shell. I'd get these again in a heartbeat.

We spent ages pondering the main courses and in the end decided to half and half it (got to be done hasn't it), and went for duck, and lamb.

Roasted Duck breast with shiitake mushroom croquettes and mango 
[side order: Green bean, cucumber + seaweed salad not pictured]

The duck comes served pink (how I like it), with a slightly crispy skin. The croquettes were perfectly crunchy on the outside and meaty and soft inside - they went perfectly with the puree and mango cubes. The presentation of the dish was faultless and I was trying to eat as slowly as I could to make it last longer. The side salad was a lovely accompaniment here so I'd definitely recommend that.

Rack of Lamb with polenta and Japanese aubergine 
[Side order of sweet potato + rosemary mash not pictured]

I was in a bit of a predicament eating my duck slowly because I could see my half of the lamb dish waiting to be devoured.

I'm not usually one to rave about veg before meat but the aubergine here was the tastiest I've ever had - I find it has a tendency to go sloppy and chewy, but not in this case. Thinly sliced and almost fruity, it went perfectly with the polenta. The lamb was gorgeously juicy and fell off the knife. The sweet potato mash deserves a shout out in its own right because it was fanbloodytastic. Creamy and buttery with rosemary running through it, I definitely had more than half (sorry James).

We absolutely didn't need a dessert or indeed have room for one but naturally, ordered the Chocolate dome with salted caramel and berries. 

You'll have to see this video of this on Instagram because we were too eager and ate it before I could snap a picture. It's a chocolate dome filled with icecream, and then a hot salted caramel sauce gets poured on top and everything melts into this pool of perfection. It was beautiful.

Australasia, clearly, remains a firm favourite of mine for a special meal out, I can't recommend the place enough.

Disclaimer: The team at Australasia kindly invited me to review today's lunch and I wasn't charged for my food or drinks - however all opinions are honest and my own.

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