Sunday, August 20, 2006

Joseph's Restaurant at Werribee Mansion Hotel. International cuisine.

[REPRINT - Originally published Thursday, March 09, 2006]

Joseph's Restaurant (at Werribee Mansion)
K Road, Werribee, Vic, 3030
phone: (03) 9731 4000
hours: I'm not sure but open for lunch for sure, we had a 12 noon booking. call them.
prices: entrees high teens, mains low to mid 30s

Today is my honey's birthday so I made him take the day off work, so I could take him to lunch. We drove down to Werribee and had lunch at Joseph's. When we arrived, there was no one else in the restaurant and the table we were given next to a window had a lovely view of the garden.

We decided to have a glass each of sparkling wine, Ninth Island from Tasmania. It was very bubbly, always a good sign and cost $11.50 each. Like I have said before I can't really tell the difference between this normal champagne and something that really costs a lot, it is the same to me.

The wait staff were really nice, and we were given menus which included, in addition to the a la carte one, a set menu option, with $27.50 for two courses and glass of house wine, or $35 for three courses, with wine.

We decided to go a la carte and this is where my memory goes bad. After some quipping about me needing a spy-type wrist watch that I can talk into at moments like these, so I don't have to try and remember stuff, I grabbed the sculpture programs we had, and scribbled, supposedly in a way that would not draw attention to myself.

I ordered spicy calamari on a bed of cous cous, which when it came was gorgeous and fragrant but could have done with just one more spoonful of the cous cous which was fairly miserly in quantity. This was strange because the portion of squid was generous. I really loved this dish.

My love had fried zucchini flowers stuffed with Persian fetta, which perched atop a chop of vegetables; the only one I can remember was celery. The fetta oozed out quite spectacularly when each floret was pierced, but I felt the celery just seemed incongruous.

The entrees came out too quickly - this was because at the stage of ordering, we were the only guests at table. This I thought was quite nice, and I was having special romantic notions of no one else coming, that we would have the restaurant to ourselves for the entire session. Then I noticed a high chair being positioned at the table next to us. I turned away from thoughts of what this might mean, and concentrated on my squid.

The waitress told us, as she served our entrees, that there was bread in the oven for us. I wonder if wait people ever mistakenly say 'buns.' This should have been brought before the entrees. But when it came, we saw straight away that it was good bread. It was crusty yet soft inside, thickly cut, sourdough. But with margarine, not butter.

Please indulge me for a moment here. I simply do not understand why any restaurant or fine dining establishment would put margarine on the table. I don't care if it's in a nice circle pat. Please, any restaurateurs out there, if you are reading this, hear me now. One word. Butter. Olive oil is ok. But do not serve margarine. Please.

For main I had venison with pommes mash and blueberry and sage jus. Though the waitress explained at the beginning that the red meat dishes would be served medium-rare, my venison was truly rare. This didn't bother me, as I like a rare dish, however it would have put off someone who could never go bluer than a true med-rare. I feel the chef got it wrong with this. Having said that, I loved this dish. The jus was divine. I enjoyed my mashed potatoes, and the venison was tasty and tender. And rare. Did I say that already?

John had fillet of salmon, cooked to perfection with crispy skin on a calconn* of seafood, which was chopped potatoes with prawn in a creamy mayonnaisy sort of dressing. We had a side of French beans in butter.

The beans were sensational. I would go there again just to eat those beans. They were perfectly cooked, they were straight and they were a beautiful, beautiful green.

We loved those beans, oh how we were in raptures over them.

Oh, the wine. With my main I had a glass of local shiraz from Werribee because it had a plum nose, rather than the pinot which had a lifted bouquet. My honey had a glass of sauvignon blanc, I don't know where. Had stopped taking notes by then.

Have I mentioned the nuns? Well, the family turned up during entree and sat at the table next to us, their child was adorable and she happily coloured in.

The two nuns came in and sat at a window table. They were in the "complete garb" and I found they looked quite confronting. They ordered symmetrically; two glasses of coke. Really nice glassware, by the way. Then it seemed they ordered one glass of red wine. The communal wine, my love quipped. My we laughed. Then they had two of the same main meals.

For dessert we had cherry ripe souffle with ice cream and raspberry coulis, and mille-feuille with berries. Did you like how I wrote "we" then? I would say the desserts were the ordinary part of the meal. They didn't really measure up and to me weren't worth the $14 odd.

So that's about it. $200 including tip, a really fine meal and in lovely surroundings. Afterwards we had a quick stroll through the rose garden, and I used the umbrella as a parasol and made funny, saying over and over again "because I'm a lady, don't you know. I'm a lady" a la Little Britain. I was hilarious and laughed a lot at my joke. No, not tedious and annoying at all.

And how did this dreamy day finish?

You can pick the ending:

[We went home and made wonderful love with very full tummies then had a two-hour nap.]

[We went to the school and picked up the kids and then came home and took Gigi for a walk. And found a chair in the street, in a hard-rubbish heap with really nice wood, old you know, antique even, it does need work yes but it's lovely. I knocked on the door, asked the young man if I could take it, he said yes, and we carried it home with us. So happy.]

* don't ask, I just don't know


Ange said...

Sounds delightful! You had a better experience than me, I went last week for dinner & our mains were forgotten & then lied about, every time we asked they were just being plated up - didnt realise plating took 45 mins! Also by the time they arrived they had run our of potato, can u beleive it, what restauruant runs out of potato. The food was wonderful though & would love to give it another go, maybe a quiet lunch would be better than a busy saturday night

BEVIS said...

Hey, nice one, MG! :)

Very cool review, and I wish I'd been there (although you may have found it quite annoying, having a romantic dinner for three). Still, I could have happily sat with the nuns and had a nice chat.

A pair of nuns: Just what everyone romantic dinner needs!

Another Outspoken Female said...

If you give the maitre'd a bigger tip do you get the nun and child-free section?

fluffy said...

YUM. Great review! I could almost taste those beans.

Liz & baby Joel said...

I've only had wonderful experiences at Joseph's - two in fact. Both were with my honey, the first for my birthday, the second he proposed! My memories are of wonderful wonderful food, definitely good bread, delicious modern mille feuille and excellent service.

Completely agree re the butter vs margarine thing - what philestines!