My friend Maztech and I have birthdays a few days apart. For our birthday in 2011, we booked in an early birthday lunch at Loam. We loved it so much that for our 2012 birthdays in December we visited again, dragging along Alastair and Dazzle.
If you’ve heard of Loam, you’ll know that they don’t have a menu. At the beginning of the meal, they give you a list of ingredients that their dishes may contain, and you let them know if there’s anything on the list that you can’t eat. You can then choose how many courses you’d like and whether you’d like wine matching:
Four courses ($75 + $50 for wine matching)
Seven courses ($120 + $85 for wine matching)
Nine courses ($150 + $110 for wine matching)
The previous year we started with seven courses and ended up adding an additional two courses, so this time we just decided on the full nine courses, with Maztech and I both choosing to go with the wine matching.
The bread at Loam is always really good – and bread refills are offered several times. It’s hard not to fill up on bread! Bread came with whipped unsalted butter with a dusting of juniper and seaweed seasoning.
Before the meal started, we received a few snacks to whet the appetite.
At the front we had pieces of salmon jerky with dill.
To the right were sticks of pastry with mustard seed.
And at the back we had salt and vinegar leaves. The salt and vinegar leaves in particular were amazing – they were salt bush leaves that had been flash fried and then dusted with vinegar powder. They were just like salt and vinegar chips!
Our first course was yabbies from a local dam, served in an unripe tomato broth with savoy cabbage. It was very fresh and fragrant, with the yabbies retaining their natural sweetness.
The second course was snow crab with roe, sourdough and nutmeg in a chamomile broth. This was interesting. I wasn’t 100% sold on the combination of the crab and the chamomile.
Next we had eel, dill, celeriac and pickled radish. The eel had been smoked with red gum wood, and was a bit chewy, though the smokey tones in the eel were highlighted by the sweet celeriac foam.
This was one of my favourite courses – broccoli heart, fermented millet, giant red mustard.
We had a charred broccoli heart served with millet that had been fermented with goats whey for two weeks. The fermentation meant that it had taken on all these creamy, cheesey, sour flavours. I loved the sweetness of the charred broccoli. The big leaf was a giant red mustard leaf.
Our next course was a beef tartare, made with meat from Welsh Blacks that had been aged for 28 days. We were told that the farmer only kills 10 cows a year, so it’s pretty special.
The meat was mixed with a bit of rendered beef fat and topped with a chicken egg and a sliver of poached squid.
The tartare was rich and flavoursome, and mixing in the yolk made it all creamy and rich. So nice.
The following course was aged squab and braised romaine. The squab had been aged in house for 28 days under hay.
As you can see, it’s very dark and served quite rare. The squab was quite intense, almost like liver, and was served with a light pan juice.
Before dessert, we had a cheese course: goats cheese with pickled beetroot.It was a hard goats cheese, but still really musty, and umm. Well, none of us like goats cheese so we’ll just leave it at that.
Our first dessert course was pink lady apples cooked in molasses, olive oil dust, a scattering of Sichuan pepper, and walnuts. It was interesting – good contrast of textures and flavours – a bit spicy and crunchy.
And our last dessert was caramelised onion ice cream with honeycomb quinoa paper and a dusting of Meyer lemon.
Yes, you read that right – caramelised onion ice cream. It definitely tasted like caramelised onion but it was sweet, so at the same time it wasn’t like onion at all. It was quite out there and I can definitely see the thought process behind it. I can’t say that I loved it, but it was interesting to eat.
These two desserts plus our lunch last time has confirmed that desserts at Loam are geared towards more non-dessert people. If you’re a mega sweet tooth and love cakes and pastries and puddings, you may find yourself unsatisfied.
We finished with a round of coffees.
And little tarts filled with a tangy lemon curd.
This time I thought Loam was nice but not as mindblowing as our first visit. The wine matches weren’t as good and I didn’t love the food as much. However, that’s probably the danger of revisiting a place that you’ve loved – it’ll always be compared.
Service, however, remained exceptional – I’m pretty certain that the nicest people in hospitality all work at Loam.
Read about our first visit to Loam here.
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Loam at Lighthouse olive grove
650 Andersons Road
Phone: 03 5251 1101