Vanessa: Admittedly, I have always associated the Quarantine Station with ghost tours and haunted tales and therefore not somewhere I would naturally consider dining. However, my opinion was recently changed after Alex and I experienced an evening at the Boilerhouse Restaurant for one of the events in their culinary dining series. The evening involved a six-course degustation that was curated by Ambassador Chef, Matt Kemp, and provided the opportunity to “meet the makers” of the produce supplied for the degustation.
Located at the northern head of Manly, the Q Station offers great views over the harbor, which is why we have already earmarked it as a place to return to during the day.
That evening happened to be pouring with torrential rain making the ferry ride from the city over to Manly an epic one but it was definitely worth it for the experience we had.
We kicked off the evening in the Engine Room which is located adjacent to the Boilerhouse. The mood was set with dim lighting, candles, smooth tunes and some of the best mussels Alex and I have ever eaten. I’m not 100% sure what they did with them, but the presence of toasted breadcrumbs definitely gave those bad boys an edge. This was a wonderful foray into the elegance of the menu we were to experience that night.
We made our way over to the Boilerhouse and were directed to our seats on the mezzanine level. I think Alex and I got some of the best seats in the house as we had an uninterrupted view of the demonstration area and kitchen on the lower level.
The evening kicks off with a welcome and introduction by Chef Matt Kemp, who explains the inspiration for the menu. Ironically, the inspiration was drawn from spring – a stark contract to the mighty storm outside.
Aside from the culinary journey we were being led on as each dish rolled out, the most memorable experience was the interaction between the producers/suppliers, Chef Kemp and the diners. This educational element of understanding where the food has been sourced from gave new-found appreciation to every course we tried. We enjoyed each dish on the menu, but there were definitely a few stand outs that are worth a special mention.
The heirloom tomato salad was almost too beautiful to eat…almost. It was perfectly presented with each element holding its own on the plate, that really let the flavour of the tomatoes shine through. This is a dish for spring if ever I have seen one!
The beef flight course was another interesting and educational high point of the menu. We were presented with three different types of beef – grass, grain and wagyu, all cooked to medium rare and seasoned only with salt. These were all matched with three different variants of red wine which has been expertly paired.
This was really a terrific way to taste and understand how each type of beef varies in flavour and by seasoning only with salt your taste buds aren’t distracted from the true origin. My favourite out of the three was the grass-fed, which was surprising as I had expected wagyu to reign supreme for me. The grass-fed had a richer flavour without the fatty element that is present in the wagyu.
The beef was served with delicious root vegetables and a show stopping salad. Now we all know the phrase “you don’t make friends with salad” however Chef Kemp presented us with one that would do wonders if you recreated this for your next dinner party. Visually beautiful with scattered edible flowers, it really was a salad that is worth writing home about!
Alex and I are both cheese fiends and were extremely excited when the last course of the evening arrived. A plentiful Cheese board consisting of four different cheeses, condiments and crunchy Lavosh. The cracker-to-cheese ration was also on point! The stand-out on the board, for me, was the blue cheese as it had a subtler flavour than others I have tried.
Each course of the degustation was perfectly paired with different wine varietals from Thorn-Clarke Wines. Generous pours throughout the evening had us all very merry by the end of the night and almost oblivious to the perfect storm raging outside.
The evening was very memorable both due to the quality of the courses but also the educational element that saw us leave enriched with an appreciation of where the food originated.
The Boilerhouse Restaurant runs a number of events as part of the culinary dining series and they are well worth the trip to the Q station for the experience. Next event in the series is the November Long Lunch, check back here for details – http://www.qstation.com.au/Boilerhouse-Restaurant/Boilerhouse-Culinary-Dinner-Series/
Photos by Alex