Friends Restaurant, I believe, offers a 5 course truffle degustation annually during the truffle season. Who knew that Manjimup truffles can be used in so many ways? A friend and I bought a voucher for the degustation and we think it was well worth the price.
1st course: Creamed 11 vegetable soup enhanced with fresh herbs and grated black truffle
I can’t quite make out what the 11 vegetables were because the grated truffle made the soup taste like mushroom soup, in a good way. It was packed full of flavour – from the unknown vegetables – and the truffles accentuated the taste.
2nd course: Citrus cured Tasmanian salmon with pickled black truffle and carrot, dijonnaise, and blue swimmer crab and mascarpone salad
Fresh and tasty salad but not as refreshing as I thought it was going to be. the dijonnaise and the swimmer crab salad were both heavy on the dairy so a little bit more citrus would have toned it down.
3rd course: Braised beef cheeks in red wine sauce, truffle mash and veggies
This dish was not bad but nothing really special. The beef cheeks were very tender but it is missing something I can’t quite put my finger on. Salt maybe? But with truffle mash on the side, who can go wrong with that?
4th course: Truffled brie cheese with fig terrine and crackers
The only dish that my friend and I found hard to finish. Don’t get me wrong; we both love brie but there was an overload of truffles mixed through the cheese that made it quite off-putting after a few bites. The solution are the fig terrine and the candied hazelnuts but there weren’t enough of them for the amount of pungent brie on the plate.
5th course: Chocolate and banana mousse cake, honeycomb crumbs and truffle ice cream
I was having a bit of a sore throat then but one must not skip dessert! The mousse cake was delicious; sweet and moist. But the truffle ice cream, I must say, outstaged it, which is a good thing since this is a truffle degustation. The ice cream may be a simple vanilla but the bits of truffles mixed through adds more depth to something so plain.
A degustation worth trying if you are looking for something different. It’s also a good introduction to what you can do with truffles. Can’t fault the venue but service could have been better. The owners were polite and attentive occasionally stopping by our table to ask if everything is okay. The people serving the dishes, though, seemed rather indifferent – no greeting, no presenting of the dishes. A copy of the menu was on the table but, as a fine dining restaurant, I would have expected the service crew to “introduce” the dishes and explain what it is.