Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Menu Pics and Other Things

On the 11th of February Piccalilly launched a new menu for the last part of summer and the warm part of autumn. We coincided the first night of the menu with an interesting experiment.

Hypothesis: Getting feedback from regular diners on the new dishes will result in improvement of the food and diners feeling connected to and valued by the restaurant.

While not strictly adhering to the scientific method we had some interesting results. We sent an invitation to all those on our mailing list in our monthly newsletter, asking if people would like to come in for a special advanced viewing of the new dishes. We printed a special feedback sheet and provided the diners with a pencil to jot down their thoughts and feelings on the food.

The interest came in the form of polarised feelings towards some of the dishes. Some people strongly disliked some things while others voted them as favorites. It proved to us, in particular to Iain, that you cannot account for personal taste and that different things excite different people. Some do not like to be surprised by the difference between what they expect to see on the plate and what is placed in front of them and some do.

There were, of course dishes that everyone loved, such as the chocolate dessert. We picked up a lot of pointers on things that could be brainstormed or tweaked in the food to make it spectacular.

We also added a question to the bottom of the form asking for our regulars’ opinion if we moved away from our Assiette concept and move towards a couple of degustation options – eliminating diner choice, and allowing us to focus on dishes. This too was a mixed response, some said go for it and some suggested that we keep it as it is. Lots to think about.

It wouldn’t be a Piccalilly blog without a mention of the tomatoes. We are still only seeing a couple of hundred grams each week, but looking at the now-towering plants, there are hundreds of rapidly swelling, but still green tomatoes there. We are going to see a rush of them in a couple of weeks with all the varieties represented. We have also taken our first delivery of heirloom beetroot grown for us by Elysia’s father. We have tiny purple, golden and white beetroot. The white ones are a bit to get your head around, they look like a tiny turnip but taste exactly like a sweet purple beetroot! The special beets will be making an appearance on the feta salad while we have them.

Beets ready for cooking.

Green Zebras, not quite ripe

The bulk of the plants

Contrast: How the plants looked a couple of months ago!

And now for the food! We have included photographs (as usual taken by the fabulous Travis Hutchins) of the new dishes, we didn't think you would need to see all the old favourites like the feta slald. So... here it is...

Sous vide squid tube and tentacles with slices of radish, squid ink oil, citrus emulsion, saganaki and herbs. The squid is cooked for 5 hours at 77 degrees, and then seared in a hot pan to give it a bit of colour. The saganaki and citrus are there to give the dish a Mediterranean feel, because I think the Greeks do the best octopus and squid. Its light and summery!

Another Middle-Eastern inspired dish of goat shoulder torn into strips and flash fried in a very hot pan so it is crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. It is with cucumber that has been dressed with preserved lemon, hummus and rice pilaf made with an almond stock and Carnaroli rice. Goat is the most consumed meat in the world, this dish is inspired by the food across Northern Africa and the Middle-East but without using overpowering spices.

Rabbit rack, rillette and leg with a pea and ham veloute, turtle beans, flowers and fried ham. The rabbits we get in are whole and we use all of them, so the cuts of meat will change from night to night depending on what we have. The pea veloute is made from a fine pea puree and let out with a little ham stock until it reaches a silky consistency.

We like this dish so you get two photos.

Daube of beef with red wine and shallot sauce, baked shallots and horseradish custard. The beef is from the ribs of the animal and cooked in the water bath for around 30 hours at 75 degrees. The sauce is one of the heaviest we have ever done at Piccalilly using red wine but it works well with the rich meat. The custard is infused with bay leaves and horseradish and is set with a seaweed-based gelling agent called gelan, so it is set but very soft. You get two photos of this one too.

Ox tongue with herb emulsion, mustard figs, roast carrot oil, English mustard butter and herbs. The tongue is first cured then cooked for 24 hours before being sliced by hand. The herb emulsion is made from parsley and tarragon to give the tongue a fresh kick. The mustard is just a great accompaniment to the tongue

Dry-aged Longford eye fillet with mushroom and leek pithivier, piccalilly and pickled red cabbage puree. The beef is aged for a minimum of 9 days to concentrate the flavous and make it super tender. The cabbage puree is simply that - pureed pickled red cabbage with a little bit of shallot for sweetness.

Lychee Pavlova - fresh lychees, lychee sorbet, chamomile gel, yoghurt marshmallow, miringue, elderberry syrup and lychee syrup. Chamomile and lychees work very well together bcause they are both so pungant and floral. The elderberry is slightly tart and so is the marshmallow to cut the sweetness of the fruit.

Chocolate ice cream with 30 second hazelnut sponge cake, sparkling honey jelly, hazelnuts, biscuit crumbs and aerated chocolate. The sponge is cooked to order for exactly 30 seconds on high in the microwave, so it is as fresh and soft as possible. The ice cream is also churned to order to ensure that it is at it creamiest and softest.

The honey jelly contains a bit if fiz to help cut the chocolate on the palate.

Olive oil and vanilla brulee with apricot, rock mellon, pistachio nuts, pistachio croquant and pickled cherry. The brulee is infused with vanilla and the fruity and fresh Ashbolt early harvest olive oil. The croquant is acting as the crispy sugar layer that you will find on a traditional creme brulee.

We will keep going with the New Menu Preview nights at Piccalilly, so if you would like to get involved or would like to join our mailing list drop us a line or an email to bookings@piccalilly.com.au and we will keep you posted on the date of the next menu change.


  1. This all looks so amazing!
    We haven't been lucky enough to dine at Picalilly as yet, even though it has been so highly recommended to us so often, but this post has me yearning to do so.
    I promise to be there before the end of this year.
    The rabbit dish in particular tempts me beautifully.
    I have been reading your blog since you started and congratulate your whole team on your efforts.
    I can tell that you all just care so much about your food and your restaurant.
    Well done and keep up the fantastic work!

  2. I had dinner at your restaurant saturday 20-2-10 and had most of the dishes in the above photos. The food was excellent as was the service. overall a beautiful restaurant run by people who are passionate about what they do keep up the good work and I look forward to my next visit when I am in hobart.

  3. Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement!
    And Christina, we cannot wait to meet you!