Having read Cindy and Michael’s review of Charcoal Lane restaurant on Gertrude St, I was determined to try their selections (spiced yam fritters served with bush tomato chutney and pumpkin gnocchi with sage, macadamia nut butter and saltbush) as soon as possible. Reading the review by That Jess Ho further tempted me, particularly her second review featuring the pumpkin gnocchi with sage again. A recent sunny Sunday provided the opportunity to invite a friend to share a relatively rare meal – a fine dining lunch. It’s usually casual lunches and fancy dinners for me, but a languid Sunday is so much better with a delicious meal.
We began with a selection of entrees (below) including whitebait, baby octopus, lemon myrtle fishbites and the spiced yam fritters. The whitebait and octopus were well done but are available everywhere, though the lemon aspen aioli made the whitebait amazing. I almost licked the plate clean. I was more impressed by the delicate flavour of the little fish balls and did not drown them in too much gingery chilli sauce. The yam fritters and bush tomato chutney were my favourite.
We liked the sound of the desserts and, as our preferred main (the duck) was not available, we decided to share entrees and desserts instead of mains.
We agree with Cindy and Michael that the black venere risotto, peas, mascarpone and pepperberry cream (above) is a disapponting dish. I liked it more than my companion, but although the dish has a tart, acidic and sweet balance to it, it is more like a base that needs something extra. It’s not satisfying as it is. The magic dish is the pumpkin gnocchi with fried sage, macadamia nut butter and saltbush (below). It is simply absolutely divine and delicious.
I’m pleased to apparently be the first to photgraph and review dessert at Charcoal Lane, as it was particularly fine. The caramelised pineapple with pineapple puree, icecream and apple crisp blossoms tasted as beautiful as it looks.
Charcoal Lane is a Mission Australia initiative that provides traineeships and apprenticeships to Indigenous and other disadvantaged youths. Based on the quality of the meals we enjoyed, their training will be of high quality and they will be able to pursue great careers in the industry. You can watch a video news story about Charcoal Lane from the ABC. Sisalla has some good photos of Charcoal Lane and Meme design have some large photos of their work on the interior.
At the time of our visit, Charcoal Lane was still waiting for approval of its liquor license application. After that is achieved it will expand its hours to offer dinner as well as lunch, and eventually also breakfast and brunch. Given that they made an exemplary espresso at the end of my lunch, a long slow weekend breakfast at Charcoal Lane could be a wonderful thing.