Fine Dining at it’s Finest. Woodland House.

It’s not every day or every meal for that matter, that you find a place that;

Pushes all the right buttons. Thrice.
Makes you wanna do the happy Bey dance
Makes you wanna sing like Pavarotti
Makes you contemplate homelessness in exchange for more meals there.
Gives you that sense of being ridiculously welcomed, and embraced in the best cuddle ever (sorry husband).

Enter, Woodland house.

I cannot sing your praises enough and I have procrastinated writing this for a while as there is really nothing to say that comes close to the incredible experience I had that fateful night, that the two Jess’ met Woodland House. The other Jess being my foodie bestie, who happens to write a brilliant blog, Jessica’s All Good Things.

Yep, I’m speechless. Well kind of. You know I will still talk and ramble and go off on tangents. But be prepared, this post will make you drool and make you wish you could live at 78 Williams Rd, Prahan.

Side note. Yes for those up the back, this is the address of Woodland House. I wasn’t sending you to my house, or my uncle Larry’s house with the seven pet monkeys. Or maybe I was so you will never find my favourite house. Of the woodland variety.

Jess and I had no reason to venture to Woodland House, but we had heard ridiculously good things, so knew we had to spoil our selves for the sake of our fans. Yes, all seven of you. We did this for you. We ate all the beautiful food for you. So really we did you a favour. You’re welcome.

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Purple Congo potato chips and champagne. Because, Woodland House.

As soon as we walked in the door, our jaws were on the floor. Ooh that rhymes. We tried to play it cool and react smoothly, but I think we failed at that ever so slightly. We were assisted throughout the evening by the lovely, attentive Gareth. Kudos to you, Gareth. The best service I have ever received. So knowledgeable, friendly, yet not overbearing. So many in hospo could learn so much from him. I can’t bring myself to call him a waiter as he was so much more than that. Ah I sound like I’m talking about a best friend. Let’s be friends, Gareth.

We knew the only way to do Woodland House was the chef’s tasting menu. So we put our dining experience into the hands of Gareth and the incredible head chefs/owners Hayden McFarland & Thomas Woods. We had a lovely chat to Hayden at the end of the night, who was more than happy to share more info about each dish and just have a good old chin wag. So impressed with every element of this place, if you didn’t guess that already.

The purple congo potato chips were served and even from these razor thin morsels, we knew we were in for a delicious feast of beautifully presented dishes. The ‘chips’ just melted in the mouth and I really liked the texture. Who doesn’t like chips? Especially when they’re purple. We thought we would stay local with the sparkling so went with the 2010 Yarrabank Vintage Cuvée. A perfect start.

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My first foie gras experience. With kiwi love. 

We were ready for the amazingness and we weren’t disapointed. I honestly cannot say a bad thing about Woodland House so will let my poor poor camera skills do most of the talking. I had never tried foie gras before, and yes I know there are some out there who won’t eat it/don’t agree with it…but they might change their mind after they try these bad boys. Fried foie gras with kiwi jelly. Yes. A fancy, fancy pants nugget. Woodland House are probably going to hate that description but I mean it in the best way! Fantastic.

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Rainbow Trout, cuttlefish, ink dressing.

IMG_3041Peek-a-boo.

The mouth watering dishes continued and I am running out of descriptive terms so I apologise if I start to make up words. These dish definitely has the wow factor when it is placed on the table. The cuttlefish and ink dressing were the perfect accompaniment and the trout was, you guessed it, perfectly cooked. Trust me, go there. Right now. Both JW & I were recommended a glass of 2013 Basa Blanco from Rueda, Spain and it was fantastic. I am honestly not the biggest fan of white wine in general, but Gareth (we are on first name terms…) knew what to recommend every time and amazed us with perfect pronunciation of every wine no matter what country it was from. This sounds like a fan piece for Gareth instead of a food review. But go there, and you will see what I mean.

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Dried Tuna with Silken Tofu.

You read that description and if you hadn’t experienced the wonder of Woodland House, it almost sounds like a sushi train dish. Then it hit the table and we were amazed yet again. This biscuit-like slice of dehydrated Tuna was nothing like anything I have had before and the roe and tofu puree complimented it oh so well.

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Spanner crab mornay, lobster emulsion

Well, there’s not alot I can say about the dish. The description and the picture are enough to make the taste buds go nuts. The textures (with an added panko crumb), the flavours, ah my mouth is watering. My vino of choice for the next couple of dishes (oh yes, there is so many more to come) was a 2011 Gruner Veltliner ‘Von Stein’, Salmon Undof, Kremstal DAC Reserve, Austria. Yes that’s a mouthful but find it and drink it. This was the most amazing white wine I have had. I need to find it. Multiple bottles of it. Gareth recommended this in particular for the upcoming John Dory dish. Perfection.

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Storm clam, daikon and BACON broth. (It was brilliant. and it had bacon)

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John Dory, sheep’s whey, bottarga, dill

The dishes kept coming and we just kept looking at eachother with that look like you had just won tatts lotto. Side note. We did not win Tatts lotto. We had just found the best dining experience of our lives. No biggie. The NZ storm clam definitely had the wow factor when it was placed on the table and they had me at ‘bacon’.

The John Dory was one of my favourites of the evening. Always a big fan of cavolo nero Not sure how I can say that as they were all my favourites. It’s like trying to name a favourite child. It’s so hard, but you secretly know which ones deserve the title.

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Pacific Oyster, white soy, shitake

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Hervey Bay Scallop, roasted bone marrow, iceplant

No surprise, more deliciousness. I have never had an oyster served out of it’s shell and it was brilliant. so much flavour and it was just enhanced by the white soy and shitake mushroom. With this dish and the scallops (drool) Gareth recommended a new style of beverage. Enter Korean sake. Mutemuka Shuzo for me. It was a great pairing with the seafood dishes and hey, who doesn’t love a sake.

I’ll always choose scallops when I see them on the menu so I was over the moon to see how Woodland House did it. Another favourite. The scallops with the bone marrow dressing and dehydrated citrus was just *insert angels singing here*.

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Pork cheek, swede, wattleseed and sancho berry.

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Lamb tomahawk, parilla, bamboo salt

These two were definitely my favourites as well. Ok I had a lot of favourites. The pork as you may have guessed, freakin melted in the mouth and the salt baked swede was delicious! The wine of course kept flowing and I tried the 2011 Etna Rosso ‘Archineri’, Pietradolce DOC, Sicily. Every wine complimented the dishes oh so well. I’m giving you a standing ovation at the moment Woodland House, just in case you wanted to know.

Yep. That’s a lamb tomahawk. On a plate. In a fine dining restaurant. And we weren’t given cutlery. That’s another thing I love about Woodland House. This could be made into a Ten Things I Love About You movie. They’re not pretentious. They know food. They know you love food and they’ll serve it like you want it. It goes without saying, this was the best lamb chop I have ever had. Ever. Sorry, pop. Can someone please deliver this to me now? Cheers.

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Hahndorf venison, black garlic, horseradish AND truffles. Because, truffles.

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Aged pigeon, broad bean, beetroot and tamarind.

In case you were living under a rock for the last couple of months, it’s truffle season. And they have been amazing. I want to take a little piggy or a dog out for a run in the fields and come across these gems. When offered some Pemberton, first of the season, Truffle, well it would have been rude to say no! Oh the venison. Oh the truffle. Accompanied by a horseradish and artichoke puree, this was incredible.

I hadn’t experienced Pigeon before Woodland House and I think any other versions I try, will be underwhelming. This was a sensational dish and one which I will forever attempt to find again. The combo of flavours were ….ah there are no words.  With these dishes I tried the 2011 Crozes-Hermitage from the Rhone Valley. Yep, that beautiful valley in France? Mhm I had that wine.

JW got her hands on a glass of Wynns 1988 Cab Sav. Served through a Coravin. A fancy pants device that allows you to choose a brilliant, well matured wine by the glass as the wine is released without removing the cork. Vino magic. That wine was as old as me. Standing applause again.

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Freakin fantastic looking Cheese Plate.

Because we hadn’t eaten enough already, we of course had to add the cheese plate to our wonderful evening. Because I love cheese. Almost as much as I love Woodland House. We were served a semi hard cows milk cheese using a contraption that skims the surface of the cheese and turns it into that paper thin flower type pattern above. This cutting method increases the surface area, where it breaths more and enhances the aroma. Tada! This was served with a cauliflower puree, shaved cauliflower and a betel leaf. I’ve never paired cauliflower with cheese, but I will be doing it every time as of now.

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Chocolate and mandarin w salted loco rice sorbet.

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Celeriac, macadamia milk sorbet, pineapple.

The desserts rolled on in and we had a fantastic chocolate and mandarin plate that had salted rice sorbet that blew my mind. Not physically….of course, but it was delicious. And everyone loves freeze dried raspberries. Mhm. Brilliance.

With the desserts, I sipped on an Iberia Cream Sherry from Spain which was, again, perfect with the range of desserts we had. Especially the Celeriac plate of awesomeness. Yes that’s it’s official name. Macadamia milk sorbet and fermented pineapple. Who would have thought that that combo would work? Woodland House. That’s who.

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Mini madeleines w lemon curd, yuzu jubes and chocolate nuts.

Whilst we oooh’d and ahhh’d at every piece of decor in the room, as well as admired the wall of decanters (yes they have multiple, spectacular pieces), we realised a sad, sad fact. Nothing could top this experience. Well if there is something out there, then I would like to make it my mission to find it. What a first world problem to have.

To finish, we were served mini madeleines filled with delicious tart lemon curd, yuzu jubes and a bowl of chocolate nuts that we just demolished. We probably tried to be lady like and only eat one or two, but that wasn’t going to happen.

And there you have it. An experience to match no other and JW was the perfect person to enjoy it all with. Yes, it is worth every penny and we would spend the money again in an instant. Bravo to you, Woodland House. Special mention to our main man, Gareth Burnett who is just kicking goals for the service, entertainment and sheer brilliance he showed off that night.

I will be back. And I will eat all the food again. I might just have to book in another night right now.

No rating of any kind can match the experience.

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