Public Dining Room @ Balmoral beach – what no sauce?

A post from No Experts Australian Correspondent

It was with great anticipation that we headed down to The Public Dining Room at Balmoral beach.  The dining room is beautifully located, with views of the Ocean and Balmoral Pier. It’s modern glass fronted look, maximises the ocean views.

To add to our anticipation, the occasion that took us there was a food and wine tasting diner organised by Henshke Wines to promote their  Lenswood range of wines. It’s no secret that Henschke are one of my favourite Vineyards, and to this day, I find it extremely difficult to find fault with any wine that they produce.


Soup of turnips, champagne, avruga caviar – 2009 Henschke Julius Eden Valley Rielsing

Tortellini of scallop mousse, seared scallop, broad beans and tomatoes, verjuice emulsion – 2009 Henschke Lenswood Littlehampton Innes Pinot Gris

Slow braised, deboned chicken thigh, confit egg yolk, brioche crumbs, chervil – 2007 Henschke Lenswood Croft Chardonnay

Poached hapuka fillet, lentil ragout, parsnip, red wine jus – 2008 Henschke Lenswood Giles Pinot Noir

Golden plains pork belly, parsley puree, roast chestnuts, peas, spiced salt – 2007 Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz

Twelve hour braised veal cheek, creamed polenta blanco, brussel sprout leaves, pine nuts, lemon – 2007 Henschke Lenswood Abbotts Prayer Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon

Strawberry lamington, coconut sorbet, strawberry salad and soup, basil – Henschke Muscat of Tappa Pas

We arrived a little early, and after checking in at the main desk, we were pointed at a table, and told to take any seat. Once seated, we had a great deal of trouble getting a waiters attention for some aperitifs, which was disappointing! Somehow we expected something much better from this restaurant.

The amuse bouche, a warm soup of Turnips with champagne and topped with Caviar was mouth watering leading us to expect big things to come! Sadly the course that followed seemed to set the precedent for the rest of the evening.  The tortellini of scallop was dry, and the four components of the dish appeared to be randomly plonked on the plate. I couldn’t work out what chopped tomatoes, and boiled beans were doing on this plate at all!  The verjuice emulsion that should have brought the components of this dish together, seemed sadly evident as only a smudge on the plate. Very disappointing.

The courses that followed, were similarly either dry, or lacking in a sauce or even missing components completely.  Lovely moist chicken, accompanied by an over cooked egg, again very dry and lacking a sauce to bring it together.  The following courses were notable for over cooked fish, lovely soft pork belly again missing a sauce, and missing the parsley puree completely, even the veal cheek was missing the pine nuts.

Our saving grace was the delicious wines, and good company. The wine did appear to be well matched with the food, but every one I spoke to on the night seemed to concur that the food was generally dry and lacking something. Inconsistent plates, and missing components makes me think that the Public Dining room are attempting to take on too much, and that organising a food and wine matching for 85 people is well beyond the restaurant’s capabilities to cope.

It maybe unfair to judge the restaurant on this evening, however I  have no desire to return, a feeling shared by many of my fellow diners.

Marks out of 10

Food 3.9

Service 4.1

Ambience 7.5


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