Hare and Grace

Hare & Grace
525 Collins Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
Open: Mon – Fri  Lunch 11:30am – 3:30pm;  Dinner  6pm – late
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We were well overdue for a catch up with good friends J & T, and decided that it would be best achieved over dinner at the lovely Hare and Grace!  I also thought it would be a great opportunity to test my hypothesis, that given the breadth and diversity of the menu – which includes a substantial grill section – it would be a great place for foodies to take their not so foodie partners – and there would be something for everybody!  Time to see if the theory plays out…

Berry Mojito

We all opted for wine to start, but the gorgeous J decided to have this fantastic Berry Mojito – it was so fantastic, I deemed it photo worthy!  It’s good to know a watering hole that does them – as I prefer them over the classic mint!

Calamari fritto misto, garlic mayonnaise

Very keen to see what a calamari would be like done Capaldi style – I ordered this (as did the lovely J). The calamari was lovely and tender, and had a gorgeously crispy and salty (perhaps a little too salty) crust – but there wasn’t really anything outstanding about it.  Very similar to what you might get at a good gastropub.

Smoked quail, sage cream, wild brambles, undergrowth

Alas – my gorgeous hubby does fall into the “non-foodie” category – but also doesn’t eat seafood or salads – so his entree options were limited to the one dish.  Definitely a foodie dish – it was probably a little technical for Andrew.  Which is a pity – because this dish looks gorgeous!  The quail was lovely and tender – and that’s about all he ate, leaving most of the accompaniments on the plate.

Freshly shucked oysters, shallot vinegar, lemon

Good friend T is a sucker for fresh oysters – and couldn’t pass these up.  They were indeed gorgeously fresh, tasting of the sea, creamy, and luscious.  The shallot vinegar and lemon perfectly complemented them.

Milk fed lamb loin, neck, basil, carrot, orange 

Switching over to foodie mode now, I ordered the lamb dish – it was succulently beautiful.  The lamb was done two ways – there were two loin medallions which had been poached sous vide – and had a beautiful basil mousse all held together with a crepinette (I presume it would be the traditional caul fat).  The lamb neck, on the other hand, had been slow roasted until it fell apart.  It was the hero of the dish – with its unctuous, burnished, sticky goodness providing an intense counterpoint to the delicate broad beans and carrots.  Absolutely gorgeous, although perhaps a tad oversalted (and I love my salt!).

250g grain fed Black Angus eye fillet

Andrew switched back to his more comfortable “non-foodie” mode – and ordered an eye fillet from the grill, which was served with chips and salad.  His comments were that it was pretty good – although it didn’t quite make his top 3, he acknowledged that it would be wavering just below in fourth place.  He did tuck into it and appeared to thoroughly enjoy the dish.

Chicken Kiev, Garlic butter, cos salad

The gorgeous J also opted for what I would call a “non-foodie” choice – the chicken kiev.  She did say she wanted something simple, and this fitted the bill.  Good quality chicken, with lovely molten garlic butter – she looked pretty happy.

300g 100% wagyu burger with battered onion rings

The fabulous T was a bit bemused when he received his wagyu burger – it was huge with two patties of meat. At first he thought he could tackle it whole – but that idea was soon put to rest.  Time to deconstruct!  He found it difficult to eat from a logistical perspective – and did note that 300g was a lot of meat to get through. The bun was sweet, the onion rings crunchy, and the dish was also served with chips.  Not for the faint hearted – T reluctantly admitted he had been beaten by it and left some on his plate.

Parsley ice-cream, blackberry, beetroot, coconut ice, fried shallots

Not to be thwarted by a burger, us girls decided that we could still order two desserts to share (even if it meant giving the boys a fork each, and they just held them, pretending to share – you know the drill).  Now, looking at this dish – you can only think that Raymond would have had a lot of fun concocting it – and despite the apparent juxtoposition of flavours, it really works.  The parsley ice cream was smooth and meltingly creamy, and was both savoury and sweet at the same time. While the shaved coconut ice lent a crunchy, cold backdrop to the dish. Strewn throughout were these gorgeous cubes of beetroot jelly – which were sweet and burst with flavour in the mouth.  The blackberries were juicy and fresh and the fried shallots added a salty, crispy surprise element!  Really interesting, really works.

‘Chocolate Bar’, 78% Michel Cluizel, sugared peppers, raspberry chantilly

Now, where there is chocolate, there is Helen – so I couldn’t pass up the chance to try the ‘chocolate bar’. It was similar to a chocolate marquise, but enrobed in a beautiful, thin coating of ganache.  Absolutely rich, creamy and delicious it was paired beautifully with a raspberry chantilly cream. The interesting element on the plate was some sugared peppers – which had been roasted and poached in sugar syrup. It was certainly interesting – but we all agreed that the dessert was actually better off without the peppers.  Sorry Raymond!

And speak of the devil… (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) – Raymond came out to have a chat to a couple of tables!  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a photo with one of the most original and amazing chefs Melbourne has to offer!  How groovy is he?!!  There’s not many chefs in Melbourne who come out to check with the punters how things are going… We all enjoyed a light hearted chat, and Raymond was the very personification of hospitality – even going so far as to offer us drinks.  Alas, by that stage of the evening – we were well and truly sated,  but we appreciated the gesture immensely.

So, does Hare and Grace have something for everyone…. I’d say it’s very close to being there.  At one level it may seem a bit incongruous to have a chicken kiev sitting alongside the finesse of lamb done two ways – but horses for courses right?  As a group – we represent an extremely diverse set of tastes – and we were all pretty happy with the offerings.  I look forward to discovering more from this wide-ranging menu – one thing you can be certain of – there will be a surprise element in every dish you try!

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