They say that opposites attract. Which very much seems to be the case for me and the mister when it comes to fine dining - I'm more than happy for a meal to span x number of hours while x greater than an hour does not sit well with him.
Luckily for me, there are a handful of occasions during the year in which I can rope him along to a lengthy lunch or dinner, and we spent our last lunch of 2016 at Inverleigh's Gladioli.
- amuse bouche - cucumber with oyster cream, beetroot crisp with ricotta.
- sourdough bread and cultured butter.
- caramel slice petit fours.
- shiitake, cauliflower, sorrel.
- mussels, broad beans, pancetta.
- potato, eel, brown onion.
- beef, apple, turnip.
- summer fruits, organic cream.
Kicking off lunch, the amuse bouche items hinted at the adventurous but clever combinations to come. This was confirmed immediately upon taking the first bite of course one: the wild shiitake mushrooms. The raw form of the mushrooms was quite distinct but did not detract from its earthy flavours, which complemented the creamy, sweet cauliflower puree and flavoursome leek powder dusting. Likewise, the flavours also melded well in the ensuing Port Arlington mussels dish, but the overall taste factor felt somewhat muted compared to the first dish. But then again, that could also be my love of anything mushrooms playing a biased role.
Dish number three presented as an interesting teaming of potato with smoked eel pieces, quinoa, manchego cheese and brown onion stock, culminating in plenty of flavour. We made the most of the flavoursome stock, using the bread to mop up the rest that remained on the plate after all the solid components were consumed.
Highlighting the quality of the produce and the prep and cooking processes, the beef was sensationally tender and fell apart with minimal effort. Its natural flavour worked beautifully with the sweet apple glaze. The tang of the pickled turnips played its role to break up the richer flavour from the beef.
Dessert seemed like a fairly simple affair but the summer fruits ended our meal on a great note. It was beautiful to look at and there was great balance struck between the sweet and tart components on the plate.
Verdict? Solid three hours well spent. With the impeccable service, simple but elegant ambience and the creative menu, it's not hard to see why Gladioli sits alongside some of regional Victoria's best restaurants. Definitely worth putting on your to-visit list. While you're there, be sure to check out the gorgeous sights and attractions nearby in Geelong.
14 High St,
Inverleigh, Victoria, 3321.
(03) 5265 1111