Having just earned Two Chef Hats recently in this year’s Good Food Guide, Muse Restaurant is the creation of Husband and Wife team Troy and Megan Rhoades Brown. Not only has this Australian Restaurant held onto one chef hat for a consecutive three years, it has also earned catering industry awards five years straight in the Hunter Region.
Worth the road trip to Muse Restaurant.
Though this award winning restaurant is a bit of a trek since it’s two hours drive out of Sydney to the entrance to Pokolbin in the iconic Hungerford Hill Winery, Muse Restaurant does offer a season driven contemporary Australian menu that is truly unforgettable.
Glass door entrance to Muse Restaurant.
As with anything labeled “chef hat”, you’d first question the price tag and it’s unimaginable how worthwhile this place is. It’s reasonably worth it at $95 per person considering it’s fine-dining also for three courses. I finally understand why this is repeatedly labeled Hunter Region, and often Australia’s best in Sydney Morning Herald. Arriving 12:25pm and still begging the girls that I want to continue earning my SingStar points in the car for karaoking two hours straight, we safely arrived to our destination all thanks to the Birthday Girl Almighty Princess who turns twenty-one (?). Teehee.
With a view of the green grass and vineyard like no other, I sense a mother nature vibe. It’s the kind of atmosphere where you don’t have to wear fancy outfits and you could just walk in with denim jeans and cow boy leather boots as the the staff understands that you have travelled a long way. We had one of the earliest seatings and when we entered the restaurant it was three quarters packed already.
There seems to be a bit of confusion going around when we noticed the fermented garlic butter. It was soft and squishy. You can clearly tell this butter is rich and complex. At first I thought it was exquisite mustard but when the waitress confirmed we were amused and questioned ourselves how to it eat. But luckily a waitress came over with a basket of hot bread!
Fermented Garlic Butter
We were offered bread and there were only two options so I picked one of each- light rye sourdough and a very eye-catching swirl of the caramelised onion brioche served extremely warm. These were an excellent carb filler for our tummies.
Light Rye Sourdough and Caramelised Onion Brioche
Cross-section of the caramelised onion brioche
At this point, we received three complimentary canapes, which was a huge surprise for us. We start off with the spiced macaron that is filled with a house made labna. The outer shell is a crunch-tastic delight on the palate with a dust of curry powder to add that little kick to my tastebuds.
Make no mistake, this tea is quite dense and almost leveled with a soup texture with the aroma of shitake mushroom, lemongrass and ginger. It’s great stuff even for my attitude towards mushrooms that I had before as I was growing up as a kid. I’ve never had liquid served quirky like this before, have you? I giggled sipping this as it instantly reminded me one of those smoking pipes in the UK back in the 1980’s. Like how would I know that…#awkward 😛
Shitake Mushroom, Lemongrass and Ginger Tea
Rouding out the last of the savoury canapes is the mushroom wafer. It has now become my new favourite vegetable companion to almost anything. The paper thin crunch is most welcome on my plate and generous powered flavour of mushroom is rewarding.
Other than not having enough of this magnificent savoury wafer, I was intrigued how powerful the flavour was. It was weird trying to bite into the wafer, as it quickly melted on my tongue. I had to make a lot of effort not to look like a clown trying to nom nom nom it.
Paper thin mushroom wafer
Lemongrass stuck inside the sipping tunnel.
Not long after our first course arrived. Almighty Princess was served a theatrical dish, sashimi of hiramasa kingfish served with fennel, apple, Muse’s very own verjuice and liquid nitrogen Coppersfolly wasabi yoghurt. OMGEEEEE! There’s LIQUID NITROGEN in this dish.
Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish
My only issue was that I didn’t order this for myself, however Almighty Princess was kind enough to give away a few tiny pieces for me taste and provide a verdict. Oh, I don’t mind welcoming the thick slices of kingfish and the refreshing taste of fennel, apple and verjuice again. And of course the wasabi yoghurt involved some sort of crazy taste.
How does this taste?
Portion size for entree is ridiculously generous.
For Miss S. the cuttlefish and king brown mushroom ‘noodles’ suitably impresses a lively gothic look, with the dark cuttlefish crackle, and deliciously soft and delicate ‘noodle’. Miss S. and I were 110% fooled by the menu name ‘noodles’. Sweetness is induced by the fresh herbs which acts as a balancer.
Cuttlefish and King Brown Mushroom ‘Noodles’
As for me and Billy, we both couldn’t resist the confit of berkshire pork jowl – presented with smoked mussels, pickled cauliflower, black garlic and buttermilk. This was quite a heavy dish considering it to be entree. The fat slice of pork jowl was at the right level of saltiness and creaminess, with a perfectly tender meat throughout.
Confit of Berkshire Pork Jowl
So far the dishes at Muse have unconditionally pleased us four girls. Next a waiter serves us the palate cleanser that contains an apple sorbet served on a rhubarb jelly and shiso. I can confidently say this was nice and breeze on the palate.
I’m always a sucker for fish and the confit petuna ocean trout did not disappoint. Muse shared another sensational dish and it was clearly noticeable because the girls enjoyed licking their plates clean. The trout is gently cooked to retain its bright orange colour and soft silky texture. To finish a bed of seaweed risotto with pickled daikon and broccolini perfectly marries all the ingredients together.
Confit Petuna Ocean Trout
A meatier choice is the milly hill lamb. It is the classic red meat dish and pleasantly ‘served pink’. Aside is salt baked sweet potato, cultured goats milk, lentils and garden herbs. I had to make a lot of effort sawing each piece of lamb but that didn’t matter because the result of the texture is a level of softness that beyond what I have eaten for a very long time when it comes to lamb.
Milly Hill Lamb
The signature dessert is what us four girls came here for, isn’t it? For those who don’t actually know what the fuss is, the “Muse Coconut” is a dessert of legend at Muse Restaurant, one of its jaw-dropping desserts and it’s OUT OF THIS WORLD! If ever there is a moment of silence at the table, this is the reason for it. The thin edible coconut husk is made of dark chocolate and is sitting in a bed of raw shaved coconut. Inside, you have to witness yourself this coconut cloud mousse as light as air, filled with vanilla bean and coconut thick water.
To eat, you must tap it with power ranger force to crack open the husk, revealing the liquid water, and the fun really begins by stirring it all together to eat. This textural and flavour sensation elicits memories of a real coconut, but BETTER. There is NO BORING BITS in this dish!
This dessert blew its way onto everyone’s radar and it’s the BEST COCONUT DESSERT tasted to date. Raise my wine glass to the chefs who have to make many of these on a daily basis.
Under the coconut tree you dance with me.
When you think dessert is over and then comes house made chocolates filled with a malt custard. The sweetness of the chocolate, balanced out by the creaminess of the custard is essentially perfect.
It is incredible Muse Restaurant provides such exquisite dishes that I think the confit petuna ocean trout and Muse coconut has already secured a special place in my heart. It’s TOP NOTCH STUFF! It is clearly evident the chef’s devotion to each dish is an eye-opening display of the finest technique. Oh it really gives some city fine diners a run for their money.
There’s definitely a Hunter Region feel at Muse Restaurant.
Photos by Vanny Tang
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This entry was posted in Fine Dining, Food Finding, Hungerford Hill Winery, Hunter Valley, Modern Australian, Pokolbin and tagged Award winning restaurant, Contemporary Australian menu, Famous Popular Dessert, Fine Dining, Hungerford Hill Winery, Hunter Valley, Lunch Spot, Muse Coconut, Muse Restaurant, Nessy Eater Food Blogger, Number one dessert, Road Trip Get-Away, Two Hatted Restaurant.