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The Lake House
King St, Daylesford, Victoria 3460
Ph: 03 5348 3329
Prices: Mains $30-$40 (from memory)
Style: Modern Australian
18th Mar 2018

Our top 5's:

Dave and Alicia's Best :
  1 : Tetsuya's
  2 : Attica
  3 : Vue de Monde
  4 : Bistro Guillaume
  5 : Rockpool Bar and Grill
Lachie & Sarah's Picks :
  1 : Attica
  2 : Jacques Reymond
  3 : The Lake House
  4 : Pearl
  5 : Matteo's

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Review by Lachie

The Lakehouse in Daylesford is consistently voted one of the top luxury hotels in regional Victoria. The attached restaurant also has a long list of accolades in its own right, often taking out the Good Food Guide's country restaurant of the year, complete with two chef's hats. And it deserves the praise it gets. Mostly.

This was the first time that Sarah and I had been here for dinner after several lunches in Daylesford for various celebrations over the years, all of which have been outstanding. Dinner on a Saturday night at The Lakehouse will set you back $95 for a mandatory three courses, but you get your choice from the full menu. It seemed odd, but they at least let us know about this when we booked, and I understand why they would do it when I assume they consistently book out.

The dining space is fairly large, spanning a few levels, with large windows on all sides giving the room a lot of light and space (at least during the day). I'm not sure that the Lakehouse hasn't made the best use of its location because you can't actually see much from the restaurant, but to be fair it's the luxury suites that get all the best views of the lake. They make up for a lack of a view mostly through the artwork of Allen Wolf-Tasker (husband of Alla, the driving force behind The Lakehouse).

The menu focuses strongly on seasonal produce sourced from the region, with the wine list also reflecting an emphasis on the local area. We had actually visited Eastern Peake winery earlier in the day and had been informed by the winemaker that The Lakehouse wine list included a bottle of his 1997 Pinot Noir and he recommended it highly. After a bottle of Giaconda Chardonnay over entrees, we splurged the $145 for the Eastern Peake '97, you only live once.

After an amuse bouche of local olives and salmon came a very meaty entree. I had decided that the evening's charcuterie plate was in order. And boy was I glad I had. "Nose to Tail pork" consisted of pork rillettes; terrine with apple chutney; black pudding and crispy pigs ear salad; trotter gallette, celeriac remoulade, sauce gribiche, and picked winter vegetables. Everything on this plate was bursting with flavour, the accompanying textures sublime. Why have pork one way when you can have it five?

Main (naturally paired with the Pinot) was duck in two parts. First arrived the tiniest cassoulet I'd ever seen. When I cooked a cassoulet it was enough to feed about 10 people. Three times a day. For a week. This, by contrast, was a simple morsel of duck served in a miniature soup terrine. The second part was a perfectly cooked roast duck breast with sauce 'Arabe' with winter veggies. Delicious, but more interesting was the venison with chocolate chilli jus and game parfait 'cigar' which Sarah ordered, the venison very slightly overdone, but the chocolate chilli sauce a perfect match for the game.

Dessert was an equally rich experience, and we were all very happy with our respective choices. Unfortunately as the evening wore on the service, which was initially excellent, had started to slip. This may have been due to Alla Wolf-Tasker herself dining in the room that evening with a group of 10 or so others, we believe that table was getting the bulk of the attention of the wait staff*. It's a shame that this left us slightly grumpy by the time we got the bill and left, from previous visits we think the restaurant deserves better.

Service issues aside, the Lakehouse was as hard to fault this time as it has been previously. Everything they do, they do well. I'd imagine this will continue to be one of regional Victoria's top restaurants for many years to come.

EDIT As comments pan out below, this was a case of mistaken identity. Alla was not in-fact dining in the restaurant this evening.

We ate:

We drank:
Giaconda Chardonnay, 97 Eastern Peake Pinot Noir


Your Comments...
  Posted by Dave , 11:03am Mon, 3rd Aug, 2009
    Yeah, I think you were a bit nice there. I know you've been lots before and it's been good, but a two-hatter shouldn't have an off-night. Perhaps they (like a few others) are starting to trade on reputation rather than maintaining past standards of excellence. A two-hatter shouldn't have a bad night - ever - and for me a 40-minute wait for the bill is not acceptable. Such a shame, as the food was for the most part outstanding.

Perhaps the slightly overdone venison was not the fault of the kitchen but rather the wait staff: it was only slightly warm when it arrived at the table so I suspect that it may have sat in the service window a bit too long. As you said though, the charcuterie plate was fantastic - definitely the highlight for me.
  Posted by alla , 08:05am Thu, 6th Aug, 2009
    Thanks for visiting - wonderful you enjoyed the food and thanks for your kind comments.I've had a table of ten to dinner in the restaurant twice in twenty five years,both times for significant birthdays,none of them recently. Is there an imposter? Meanwhile the issue of the bill wait is inexcusable - and there is much self flagellation happening here to just where we went wrong.They are a terrific caring team.But you're right - not acceptable under any circumstances.So glad you drank the Eastern Peake - absolutely exceptional.And Norm Latta is a national treasure.
Re the positioning of the restaurant - sometime come and have a drink on the bar and I'll let you know how and why the restaurant was sited 29 years ago when Al and I cobbled it together on the smell of an oily rag. Two very young optimists in a sea of gloom and in a village no one visited. Mind you it's had a myriad of facelifts since then and grows more beautiful each year. Alas same can't be said about us.
Meantime this morning looking out the window, there are beautiful wisps of mist across the lake and some rays of sun just touching the tops of the trees on the far ridge across the lake .
A flock of noisy gang gangs has just passed by and a pair of eagles were seen soaring overhead.Apples baked with
honey,quince pancakes, house baked beans with chorizo, hot savoury herbed brioche are adding layers of heady aromas to our breakfast buffet . And I'm really excited with an exceptional morning bake of ciabatta and light rye. Wouldn't be dead for quids!
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