Manly’s Quarantine Station is best known for its ghost tours, haunted tales and rumors of strange sightings, so when I was invited down there to ultimately meet my maker, you can understand my hesitation. Especially since yes I will admit it, I have been to Q Station before on a ghost tour, and yes I cried – long past the acceptable age of crying on a ghost tour.
On a dark and stormy night I ventured down to the Q Station and waited with baited breath as I was ushered inside an old brick building bathed in red light, so far things were not looking good. Fortunately for me, what awaited me was a six course feast for the eyes and palate at Q Station’s Boilerhouse restaurant, instead of my fateful end… or ghosts, there would be no tears this time!
Q Station was giving new meaning to meeting my maker, (a cruel euphemism if you ask me) and this meant I was meeting those who put in all the hard work to make my dinner, including a meat producer, winemaker and fruit and vegetable producer to learn a little bit more about what went into my food.
We start the night with Chef Matt Kemp explaining that the flavor and lightness of spring has served for the inspiration of the menu. The irony of the freak weather and torrential rain is not lost on him, and with that we begin.
As each course rolls out, diners are given pause as Matt Kemp and the various producers engage us in a conversation about where exactly our food has come from, and what has gone into it. It is not often that we as diners see the interaction between chef and producer, and this glimpse provides a new appreciation of the pasture to plate process.
With each dish better than the next, a special mention must be given to the salad of heirloom vegetables. A sight almost too pretty to eat with its micro herbs and flowers, each element of the dish well and truly had a reason to be there. I think the person next to me also said it best when she commented “these vegetables actually taste like vegetables”. And although it may sound counter-intuitive and obvious, they actually did. Root, earth, and that one of a kind freshness was all there. Rarely does a salad make a statement, but this one proved with the right ingredients even the smallest of dishes pack a punch.
The high-point of the dinner however, and the culmination of food and education is the beef flight course. The idea is simple enough, three different types of beef – grass, grain and wagyu- from the same cut. I will be the first to admit, that I often find it a challenge to sit down to eat a steak, let alone knowing what kind of beef to choose and then when cuts are worked into the mix it usually ends in a very uneducated guess. Worrying that this dish was going to be completely lost on me, I was initially reserved. As I worked my way around the plate tasting each of the different types with an accompanying wine, I experienced the spectrum of taste and flavour, and for the first time things started to make sense. Expecting the wagyu to be my pick of the three (mostly because I knew what it was), I was surprised that my palate favoured the grass fed which was tender, full of flavour but not over the top.
We close the night with a cheese plate that I am still dreaming about, the standout being the blue cheese that makes a statement but doesn’t overpower. I had to restrain myself from making an absolute mess of the dish and allowing other diners a chance at tasting which was not an easy task.
Thus my food education came to a close for the evening, but not without a renewed sense of confidence and knowledge in food. It is not often that dinner can be called eye opening, refreshing and educational but Q Station’s Meet Your Maker dinner certainly offered all these things.
The third instalment to the Boilerhouse Culinary Dinner series was held on 24 September 2015. For more information on the Boilerhouse Culinary Dinner series, go to qstation.com.au/Boilerhouse-Restaurant/Boilerhouse-Culinary-Dinner-Series
1 North Head Scenic Drive, Manly, NSW Sydney
Phone: (02) 9466 1511