I’m so relieved that I didn’t place money on the near possible wager with my husband whilst dining at Hare and Grace. “It has cheese in it! Can’t you taste that, I’m sure it’s cheese”, I insisted whilst spreading the whipped butter onto my second slice of country grain bread. My husband, adamant that it was simply butter, minus the cheese, I could feel my fingers itchy to wager a bet with him at precisely the moment the waitress appeared. Instead we asked her, simply butter it was. Confused by what I could taste, she explained that the butter was a well refined product dairy product from Myrtleford, Victoria, which would most likely account for the naturally rich developed flavour – even the butter is more than butter. It’s Myrtleford butter. Hare and Grace is more than what appears on the surface at first glance.
Arriving for an 8pm seating the Eatery is unpretentious, yet intimate, refined cuisine combined with exceptional service, and all without the hefty price point. It seems like a list of oxymorons, and yet what seemed like a feat of challenges to me, Hare and Grace achieved with ease. From the moment of arrival we were ushered through the open courtyard where post-work patrons drank to the week’s end. Led passed the minibar and into an open spaced room that takes some mental processing. Suspended from the ceiling bundled branches hang, creating the illusion as though you are lost in a scene from Alice in Wonderland, where the world is upside down. Organic, neutral toning to the room’s interior with raw timber tables, and farm yard animals painted on the walls lends the sense of all things rustic. Hare and Grace appeals to the bucolic spirit within those that seek quality produce and fare, without the frivolity of which fork, spoon or knife do I use next?
With an English accent, the menu favours hearty, robust options such as Seared Pork Cutlet Mussels, Clams, Black Pudding Cider or Breast Chicken with Rosemary Mascarpone Leek and Bacon. The menu offerings can be best described as something which the skilled everyday cook would struggle to perfect in the home kitchen. So whilst the meals may appear uncomplicated on the menu, the reality is you won’t leave feeling as though you could have recreated this experience within your own dining room. The serving sizes of each meal is extremely generous, so much so that I requested a twenty minute interval between finishing my entrée and the main meal arriving. Having said that, it may have something to do with the thickly cut, heavy crusted country grain loaf bread that I made a pig of myself over (Oink!). I say bread, and then you think bread – but don’t! Stop right there, this thing called ‘Bread’ was so much more than yeast, with grains, flour and elbow effort. It was good enough to break my customary, “I don’t eat bread” attitude. Baked fresh daily on an offsite location, specific to the Hare and Grace requirements and served warmly, the dense yet moist texture is making my mouth water just thinking about it whilst I write this.
To this Eatery I urge you to come hungry. The meals are not only generous in size, but rich and full flavoured. Ordering from the daily Specials selection, the five scallops was the richest, creamy mouthful that I have ever struggled through as an Entrée. Cooked to perfection, they were plump and tender, and as I’m no technical foodie I have no idea how they managed to cook them whilst still attached to the shells, but they presented beautifully. The battered calamari with lemon aioli lived up to my expectations and worthy of ordering a second time around. The highlight however of the night is a tough choice between the consistently professional service and the coffee with dessert.
Both of these experiences made me smile readily. The wait staff were attentive without being intrusive, knowledgeable without being arrogant and assuming, friendly without being over-familiar and best of all genuine and real. The meringue, berries and Chantilly cream (make-a-mess) dessert on the other hand was sweet without being sickly, decadent without being heavy and the blissful combination of mixed textures with every mouthful, which made the dessert so much ‘yummy fun’. Coffee…oh please! I won’t get started on the coffee (as I’m a mad coffee lover), suffice to say it was good. Just good, good, good! The overall verdict, a night to remember for all the right reasons.