Loquat

Loquat
3183 Point Nepean Road
Sorrento  VIC  3943
03 5984 4444
Website

We love spending the weekend down at the Mornington Peninsula – especially since Andrew is a scuba diver!  You see, the boats for Dive Victoria leave from Portsea – so staying in Sorrento or somewhere in the region is a real treat for him, as he doesn’t need to drive 2 hours home!  This weekend, we were staying at the Hotel Sorrento – so it made sense to dine locally at least once during our stay.  We had tried Loquat many years ago and had good, albeit vague, memories – so I decided it was time to check it out again.

Named after the loquat tree that resides in the courtyard, the restaurant is in fact a converted house.  As a result, there is an intimate feel facilitated by the lovely range of rooms that you can be seated in.  The ambience is set by the very low lighting, which tends to ebb and flow due to some fluctuations in power supply – but apart from that, provides a very pleasant setting.  The service is lovely, and the staff demonstrate just the right level of intimacy and personality, without being overly cloying or intrusive.

We decided upon our dishes, and enjoyed some fresh bread which Andrew particularly liked.  It appeared to have a glaze on it which added a subtle flavour and a nice crispness to the outside, while the inside was warm and light, with just the right density.  Served with good quality butter, and the nice touch of some gorgeous olives it set the tone for a lovely night out.

Red Hill Goat’s Cheese Soufflé with pear salad and beetroot & ginger purée

Our entrées arrived – mine was the blue cheese soufflé with a pear and walnut salad and a beetroot purée.  I remember this dish – from a few years ago now – and it is fantastic.  So light, but with the rich flavour of cheese.  The inside was moist and beautifully aerated – while the outside was lightly crisped shell.  Absolutely gorgeous.  The beetroot purée was a lovely accompaniment, although the ginger was indiscernible – and while the pear and walnut salad was good in theory, it lacked a little something – probably because it was so finely shredded it didn’t carry a lot of flavour.  Nonetheless, this was a stellar dish!

“Waldorf” Quail with white balsamic and honey dressing

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Andrew’s quail entrée.  The main issue here was that the quail hadn’t been fully deboned.  The rib cage had been removed – but there were a myriad of tiny broken bones left in the quail.  To me this is a sign of lazy prep – and is asking for trouble.  There’s only one thing worse than having to extract tiny bones from your mouth – and that is choking on one of them.  The Masterchef judges would have you sent straight to elimination. It’s just not good enough. Even when you think you’ve carefully cut away the meat only, you gingerly chew every mouthful for fear that you’re about to choke.  I understand the argument that meat cooked on the bone has more flavour – but in the case of quail – I don’t think you can be too careful.  In addition, the waldorf salad accompanying the quail was claggy with poor tasting mayonnaise, and the apple in it was far too tart to be a good complement to the meat.  A very dissatisfying dish.

 Confit duck leg with truffled porcini risotto

The next dish to be served was my duck with mushroom risotto.  I do have to say that the duck was cooked well, with the meat easily coming away from the bone.  The only downside here was that it appeared to be a bit oily, and the skin was not crisp. However, the meat was full of flavour and very tender.  The real let-down on this dish was the “risotto” which was not really a risotto, but more like a pilaf.  The grains of rice did not hold together, and it really lacked that amazing creaminess that you expect as part of a risotto.  The mushroom flavour was there – so that was good, although I’m not sure about serving raw enoki as a garnish – as it is quite tough when uncooked. Overall, the dish was OK – but not what I was expecting, so I felt a little disappointed.

Eye fillet aged beef, spinach, potato fondant and bacon 

Andrew, naturally, ordered the eye fillet – and he was happy with the way it was cooked.  The meat was tender and flavourful, and the potatoes were the only accompaniment he needed.  He said that it was good, but not in his top five.

 Callebaut Chocolate Fondant

Finally, we decided to share the chocolate fondant for dessert – and I waited in anticipation, desperately hoping that the centre would be creamy and flowing.  I was not disappointed – it was cooked perfectly.  Beautifully complemented by the vanilla bean icecream and the real surprise element on the dish – the jaffa white chocolate – this was a lovely dish.  Our waiter recommended a great Pedro Xeminex dark sherry to accompany the dessert, which was rich, luscious and redolent with raisin flavours.  Very intense!

Incredibly sated, we took the quick trip home to the Hotel Sorrento which was only about 1 – 2km up the road.  Love it!  Overall, Loquat is a nice local restaurant – but clearly it’s somewhere you need to be familiar with the menu – because as our experience indicates – it can be a bit hit and miss.  My vague positive memories must have been related to the cheese soufflé – because it is a stunning version that I really enjoyed again.  Unfortunately, due to the quality of the other dishes, we left the restaurant thinking we would be unlikely to return.  In the Peninsula – it seems that it’s the winery restaurants that are offering much better prepared food, so we think it’s worth the extra 15 minutes to travel to Main Ridge or Red Hill, and dine in those venues instead.

If you have any suggestions for local restaurants in the Sorrento area, please let me know. I’d love to hear about them and check them out on my next visit!!

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