It’s been a while since I’ve had a meal like the one at Lume.
They opened in South Melbourne a few months ago, bucking the trend for casual, shared dish restaurants, instead serving a long (LONG) degustation filled with adventurous and unique dishes.
Alastair and I went to lunch at Lume with Haz and Gaz at the beginning of November. At the time of our visit, it was $140 for a 15 course meal (I believe it’s now $165). Upon arrival we were seated in the (covered) courtyard out the back, which was filled with natural light and had a wall of greenery.
If you are going to Lume soon, you might not want to read this post so you can keep an element of surprise. As for me, I hadn’t read any posts about the place, so everything was new. And it was good that way! The wait staff gave brief explanations of the dishes, but there was still lots for us to discover on our own.
The meal started with a spot of breakfast. Almost. We received a burnt barley cake, with eel honey and fresh curd.
The barley cake was like a crumpet, and the eel honey had been smoked, giving an interesting savoury aspect to the honey. The eel element wasn’t too overwhelming – just kind of present – which was good as the goats curd was light and mild.
Next was one of my favourites of the meal – raw taro and calamari entrails warmed with saltbush butter. Olive was mentioned when we received the dish, so I assume that is the scattered dust and/or smear.
I know, it sounds weird, but trust me, it was amazing. I loved the textures in this – the contrast of the crunchiness of the taro (I assume) versus the chewiness of the calamari. Tastewise, it was really creamy and savoury.
Next was scallops dressed with jamon dashi, honeydew and roe. Inside the dish was Tasmanian scallops, diced honeydew, something that was like pork floss, fish roe, topped with jamon dashi. My notes say that it was quite salty and tasted like the sea.
Continuing with the ocean theme, next was Pearl on the ocean floor.
This was one of the most intriguing dishes, because we weren’t told anything about it – just left with the instruction to eat the white pearl all in one go with our fingers.
And it was COLD. The outside was obviously a thin shell of white chocolate but we were stumped as to what was inside. It just was cold and salty with a touch of creaminess. Surrounding the pearl there were oysters and jelly hidden in the ‘sand’, as well as sampire, salt bush and siracha.
As for the pearl, after some internet detective work (thanks to Haz), we discovered that the inside of the pearl was miso ice cream and pinenuts.
We then moved to a meat course with Flinders Island lamb perfumed with cherry wood, rhubarb, hibiscus and rose.
Gosh, I can barely make out my notes for this. I believe that I was trying to write that the lamb had been cured in barrels of lamb fat, and I’ve also noted ‘cured part like jerky?’ But I did follow up with ‘Really good’ so there’s that!
After the lamb there was a salt baked Jerusalem artichoke. We were told this was part 1 with part 2 to come.
I have to say – this was pretty dull. Visually and flavour wise.
But the next one was more interesting. Titled ‘Sea corn and dairy cow’ this was not exactly what it seemed. It looks like baby corn on the plate.
But it was actually a corn mousse flavoured with some kind of seafood. This was served with corn silk and possibly a polenta cracker? And my guess for the dairy cow was that the slightly translucent strands incorporated beef in some form – maybe udder?
This was meat hen cooked in chamomile, acidulated wild violets and salted yolk.
The chicken had been cooked amazingly well – it was very tender. And the cured egg yolk was spiced with hojicha, and while relatively salty and a bit pungent, you could taste the tea.
Next we had fish – raw barbequed cobia, which is a black kingfish from North Queensland. The white part was raw, and the barbecued part had been frozen and made into granita.
Moving along (yes, there were a lot of courses) – Beef cheek cooked in liquorice, bone marrow cooked in New Zealand yams.
Who here thinks that a sweet potato is a yam? I am here to educate! I was very happy to see the yam in this dish because I haven’t eaten one since we left NZ. This was also the prettiest dish of the entire meal.
The beef had a jerky like texture, with the liquorice giving it a touch of sweetness, and the yam was nicely fluffy and filled with beef marrow.
This baby croissant was baked that morning and smoked over pear wood in the afternoon. It was served with a little wheel of cheese – which wasn’t quite cheese.
It was cauliflower cheese. I really liked the pastry but wasn’t so fond of the cauliflower cheese, which I found quite gluey.
After the pastry we segued into dessert with Lambs blood ganache rolled in maple oats, native apple jam and riberry pepper. Interesting bowl of textures, lots of crunchy cereal type things, and there was some gin jelly (or something that tasted alcoholic) in there too.
With the next dessert course liquorice made a reappearance: salted liquorice stick, violets and lime. Much nicer than it sounds. The salted liquorice stick reminded us all of grass jelly.
Ad here is part 2 of the artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke, La Sirene Praline, caramelised apple and chamomile.
On the plate we had stout ice cream, pork fat caramel praline, an apple reduction and a “fossilised” artichoke with white chocolate. Beer, pork and veggies for dessert.
And the very last course: Cacao pod from Maralumi with notes of tobacco, green banana and currants.
The large cacao pod was presented with cacao ice cream and strips of “vanilla bean”, which were like fruit roll ups.
And then the pod was broken to reveal green bananas, apple, banana chips and white chocolate.
On the whole, the food at Lume was inventive, with interesting combinations of flavours and showcasing solid techniques. Not every element of each dish worked, and I can’t say that I loved everything, but the majority was pretty good. If you go, I think you just need to keep an open mind and try everything.
It’s truly been a while since I had a meal like this and I’m glad we went.
226 Coventry St
South Melbourne VIC 3205
Phone: 03 9690 0142