Muse Restaurant (Hunter Valley), Sydney

For our final dinner in Hunter Valley, we made a booking at Muse Restaurant – a two hatted restaurant in regional NSW. Coincidentally we spotted other guests who were on the same hot air balloon flight as us in the morning.

Started our dinner with some light bites of Veg Sushi, Buckwheat pancake with peppermint and Kingfisher corn taco.

The 1st course Celeriac, hung yoghurt, truffled pecorino, yolk, Japanese parsley is set for all guests (no option), while there were at least 3 options to choose from for the rest of the courses.

One good thing about having dinner in Summer is the ample daylight. Even at 7.30pm the sky was still bright, allowing me to capture the  lovely colours of this dish – Wagyu tortellini, ripe and unripe local tomatoes, burnt onion, chrysanthemum, smoked tomato broth. I was pleasantly surprised by the light broth which was well balanced with two types of tomatoes. The tortellini was nicely made with tender fillings.

The other dish was also light and refreshing – Smoked Newcastle blue mackerel mousse, green apple, cucumber, avruga, organic wasabi, dill. The mousse seemed to act as a paste to bring the various ingredients of different textures together.

Once the sky darkens, the dining hall was only lit by the small table lamps while I savoured the Wood fired quail, Dutch cream potato, fig, sunflower seeds and shoots, umi plum vinaigrette. The quail had a nice crisp outer skin with moist pinkish centre. Very well paired with a rich gravy that offers a balanced sour and fruity flavour.

The gravy of Pan fried Newcastle Mullaway, charred local cumquat, leek, shellfish cream, agretti left an impression in me for the rich umami of the shellfish thou it was a tad too strong for my taste bud. Nonetheless the fish was well-prepared with a thick crust and firm meat. The charred leek was a joy to eat.

Before hitting the dessert course, we were presented with palate cleanser of Semilion with golden raisin.

Next, the staff introduced us to the signature dessert of Muse coconut.  The husk is made of dark chocolate while the interior is coated with coconut mousse and filled with coconut water. As I’m not a coconut person, I wasn’t wowed by it though I appreciate the efforts in producing the parts required to plate this dessert.

The other dessert was something interesting as it was a fusion creation. Pavlova being quintessentially Australia/New Zealand paired with ingredients with strong Japanese origins. The result was Sweetwater ruby grapefruit, matcha ice cream pavlova, red shiso sorbet.

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