Hotel Lincoln – New chef, new menu!

Something is afoot at Hotel Lincoln.  Head Chef Ross Beeley has departed after spending nine years at the helm.  At first, I was a little alarmed – we’ve grown very fond of Ross’ menu and his style. It’s what’s kept us coming back.  However, Ross’ very capable sous chef, Toby Ruffer, has stepped into the Head Chef position and while the transition has been mostly uneventful… there have been some changes to the menu which reflect more of his personality, and perhaps provide a bit of a glimpse into the future of dining at this gastropub.

This post is a conglomeration of a couple of visits – to give you an idea of the menu changes.  I’ve recently noticed that there’s been another menu change given it’s the new year – so take these dishes as indicative of the new style of dining, rather than dishes that will be available moving forward.

Chorizo

Chorizo with apple salad

This is Andrew’s staple entrée – one of the choices from the charcuterie selection that he loves. Perusing the new menu on the website, I see the charcuterie is gone!!! Ooh la la… that’s going to make our next visit interesting!

Quail

Quail cooked 2 ways

This is a brilliant dish!  The quail is pan roasted, but confit leg is also served, shredded off the bone and pan seared to create a golden crusted cake.  In this version, it is served with a mandarin, hazelnut and watercress salad which was just gorgeous.  The new menu retains this dish but substitutes the salad with cauliflower and leeks.  Guess I’ll have to try it out! Stay tuned.

Steak tartare

Steak tartare

I have always contended that the Steak Tartare at the Lincoln is the best in Melbourne.  The last couple of times I’ve been, it’s been a tad over “condimentised” – but it’s still a winner.  Alas… it appears that this dish is another casualty of the new menu and is no longer available!  Maybe they were weaning me off it… thankfully; there are lots of seductive new items to intrigue me.

Yabbies, Fennel & Orange

Yabbies, Fennel & Orange

This dish was delicious.  The yabbies tasted fresh and clean (one of my pet peeves with yabbies is that they often taste of mud if they haven’t been cleaned properly) and the salad added a fresh, vibrant tone complementing the sweet, mellow meat.

Lamb 2 ways

Lamb two ways

The thing that strikes me about this dish is its beauty.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed from the pics, but dishes under Toby’s direction are becoming prettier, more structured and finessed, with more balance in their appearance. They also deliver on taste – although it might take a little bit more technique to take it to that next level.

Sirloin

Sirloin steak, triple cooked chips, béarnaise sauce

The Lincoln has always been known for its charcuterie and steaks. One of the initial directions the menu took was to reduce the steak offerings to a sirloin and a cut of the day.  This particular change has sat uneasily on the regulars who attend (one regular in particular, who loves his eye fillet and always had the Hotel Lincoln’s in his top 3).  In the new menu, I see there is a wider selection of steaks available – an eye fillet at $49 though… no doubt we’ll test it, but it will have to be spectacular.  No pressure!!

Duck

Duo of Aylesbury Duck

This dish happens to be one of my favourites – and I’m very pleased to see it retained on the new menu.  The breast is cooked to perfection and sits atop some wilted, buttery spinach and a sweet potato rosti.  Alongside this is a mound of confit leg that has been shredded. It is rich, moist and delicious (and is making my mouth water just thinking about it!).  The cherry sauce is the perfect foil. An amazing dish!

Petit four parade

Petit fours

One of the changes under Toby’s direction I am in thrall to – petit fours!  Kudos to the Lincoln’s pastry chef because these little mouthfuls are inspired.  The cinnamon meringues are to die for, and the mini lemon tarts, banoffee pies and shortbread are sublime executions of the classics.  It’s a lovely change that takes your dining experience that little bit further.  It’s always nice to end on a sweet note!

So, clearly there are some changes afoot at the Lincoln.  I look forward to the continued evolution of the menu. The finessing of the dishes and the addition of complimentary petit fours takes has taken the vibe in a good direction.  I could even be bold enough to say that the Lincoln is flirting with a chef’s hat – which may come with a tad more technique and confidence.  In the meantime, we’ll be watching with interest!

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