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Gastronomical ramblings

Food adventure @ Little Hunter [CLOSED Oct 2013]

My obsession with this year’s MKR series lead me to do what every other female fan has probably done: go online and dig up the goss on the judges. Both judges have restaurants in Sydney but when I discovered that Pete Evans had ‘in’ on a restaurant that had recently opened up in Melbourne, I was very eager to try. With Little Hunter also on Dr. V’s to visit-list, there were no questions about where our next dinner (with K) would take place.

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Located in what appeared to be the basement of the building (some confusion in finding the restaurant was encountered), the space was full of darkened tones and dim lighting that suited the natural darkness of the area and added to the sleek and trendy vibe of the interior. Much attention was drawn to the pockets of contrasting colour and lighting, with the brightly-lit kitchen, gorgeous blue plates and flower arrangements standing out in particular.

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Our drinks order from left to right: Dora The Explorer, The Paddington Bear, and Big Bird.

Dora The Explorer - fresh raspberries, watermelon & lemon.

The watermelon was quite sweet and immediately picked up by the taste buds, but it soon faded, allowing the underlying sharp and sour citrusy flavours to come to the surface. The raspberry pieces tasted like tiny pieces of fruity jelly.

The Paddington Bear - fresh grapefruit juice, strawberries, mint, cucumber & bitters.

The mint and cucumber provided a savoury taste that overpowered the sweeter grapefruit and strawberries. While just a refreshing as Dora the Explorer, I didn’t enjoy the savouriness.

Big Bird - pear puree, lemon & ginger ale.

I personally would never order a drink that featured cinnamon as a key ingredient, but K went there. I tried a sip, and it was actually surprisingly delightful. The spice and sweetness from the cinnamon paired well with the pear and citrus. Channeling Willy Wonka, it was as though we were consuming an pear/apple pie in liquid form.

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Complimentary housemade cheddar and herb pull apart loaf, with chicken skin butter.

I love my bread, and I’ve eaten plenty of it, so it should not be taken lightly when I say that Little Hunter’s bread is up there with the best. I would happily return for the bread alone…

Served warm and tasting super fresh, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bread had been taken straight out of the oven after baking, and plonked onto our table. The bread tasted quite sweet (like Breadtop bread), but the saltiness of the crunchy melted cheese on top and the occasional encounters with herbs added a sensational aroma that worked wonderfully with the buttery sweetness. The chicken skin butter was quite oily and similar to the butter used in Vietnamese bread rolls. Pieces of smoked chicken sat amongst the sea of whipped oiliness. The chicken skin butter was not necessary since the bread was already well-flavoured, but it was a welcome addition nonetheless.

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Wood-roasted pork - with kale, and cider vinegar.

The pork was very tender, and practically fell apart as soon as the surface was pierced with a knife. A lovely smoked flavour permeated the flesh, pairing well with the sweetness of the thick sauce and slight hint of vinegar. The crackling could have been a touch crunchier.

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Roast chicken - with Moroccan spices, soured cream and lemon.

Upon cutting into her chicken, Dr. V noticed that the middle was slightly pink. After raising the alarm with the next waitress who walked by our table, the dish was promptly taken away. 15 minutes later, the waitress returned with a freshly-cooked piece of chicken, a complimentary watermelon salad and several sincere apologies. No harm done - the blunder was handled very professionally, and the second piece of chicken was cooked perfectly. The flesh was extremely succulent, and the soft skin served as a cloak of Moroccan spices and grilled flavour.

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Watermelon salad - with land cress, goat cheese and dandelion.

The watermelon was quite sweet and juicy; perfectly suited for a salad. The pieces were topped with a thick creamy goat cheese that masked the flavour and texture of the watermelon.This was one of the rare instances where I didn’t mind the bitterness from the dandelion leaves - its presence was necessary to break up the stronger flavour of the goat cheese.

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David Blackmore Wagyu Flank - with avocado and Cajun flavours.

The wagyu flank was a great cut of meat, and the tenderness of the flesh with a perfect touch of chewiness was evident from the first bite to the last. With the outside seared, the grilled flavour was quite rich. Be sure to eat the beef with all components on the plate - the balance between the sourness of the Balsamic vinegar emulsion, the fresh butteriness of the avocado, and the bursts of Cajun spices was a juggling act that was perfectly executed.

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Little Hunter fries - with fry sauce.

The dusting of what tasted like onion powder on the fries took my taste buds straight into a can of sour cream and onion Pringles. Similar to the chips prepared in our kitchen at home, the cut and texture of the chips tasted quite homey.

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Grilled corn kernels.

The juicy corn kernels possessed a strong smoky flavour that left a pleasant lingering peppery spice.

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Frangipane - meringue, passionfruit curd and whole pear sorbet.

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Thanks to the flavour of the frangipane cake and the crunch of the meringue, the combination tasted like Fruit Loop cereal with bursts of poppy seed. The passionfruit curd was consistently smooth, and while its flavour oozed passionfruit, it was not sickeningly sweet. The pear flavour in the sorbet was quite light, and along with its icy coolness, it added a refreshing component that tied in perfectly with the cake and meringue.

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Double chocolate mousse - noble reduction and cocoa nib brittle.

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The presentation was simply exquisite, and I had a great time capturing this dish on camera. It was even more enjoyable to eat. The mousse layers were both velvety smooth and airy light in texture. The chocolate taste was rich but not overly sweet, especially with the balanced bitter sweetness from the cocoa nibs. The thick biscuit base was slightly salted, and the salty contrast enriched the chocolatiness and bitterness of the other components. The coffee cream was quite light and custard-like. I enjoyed the fact that it was quite mild when it came down to its coffee flavour. Both desserts were amazing and highly recommended, but if I had to pick one over the other, the chocolate mousse wins.

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Our dining experience at Little Hunter was highly enjoyable, and the only thing that could have made the night any better would be an encounter with Pete Evans. Unlikely, I know, but a girl could hope!

Little Hunter on Urbanspoon

Little Hunter

195 Little Collins St,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.

(03) 9654 0090

http://www.littlehunter.com.au/