Dining Room, New Menu at Macalister Mansion, Penang - The Yum List
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Dining Room, New Menu at Macalister Mansion, Penang
Regular readers will know that I think Macalister Mansion is one of the hottest spots to stay in Penang. It’s no surprise then, that I’m a huge fan of their Dining Room too. You can find my introduction to the restaurant here. This post though will focus primarily on the scrummy new dishes Chef Lance has recently introduced to the menu.
The cuisine at the Dining Room has French foundations with injections of local inspiration. Where possible, ingredients are sourced locally, prepared in a classically European style, but a piece of Penang’s soul is evident in most plates.
It’s rather exciting to see this young chef develop. Our last visit to the dinner table left us with fond memories. This round, however, had us enamoured with Chef Lance’s more focused sense of direction and clear maturation of his own personal cooking style. We think this chef is going to do great things. Keep your eye on him Malaysia.
Here’s the wine-paired menu that left us enchanted:
Amuse Bouche – Torchon of Fois Gras Candy, Goughere and Truffle Honey. The chilled ball of foie gras literally looks like a candy bon-bon. Coated with a dusting of orange zest and finished with an edible starch wrapper it is confectionary for adults. The Parmesan Goughere is jazzed up with viscous truffle honey providing a contrast between sweet and salty and forming a sticky pastry texture.
An Italian white, Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio Venezie 2011, bridged the amuse bouche and first starter. A wonderful smell of passionfruit on the nose and a surprisingly medium body for a Pinto Grigio (which I commonly find quite watery), left my me salivating for another drop.
Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio Venezie 2011
Pan Seared Hakkaido Scallop, Butternut Squash Mousse, Sesame Oil and Coriander Gel. Two medium-sized scallops, lightly seared, sat plump and desirable in the centre of the petite dish. A cream and butter free vegetable mousse allowed the scallop to be the star protagonist and the squash the supporting actor. Tiny cubes of potato added another layer of texture as did black and white sesame speckles on top. The coriander gel provided an earthen contrast against the naturally sweet pumpkin. The pinot grigio brought out a very elegant piquancy at the end of the dish. The sesame oil is sourced from a local producer just down the street, but the grace of the dish was distinctly European.
Pan Seared Hakkaido Scallop, Butternut Squash Mousse, Sesame Oil and Coriander Gel
Scrambled Organic Egg with US Oyster, Chive Sabayon and Tapioca Pearl. The muse for this dish was the humble Penang oyster omelette. A misshapen Japanese bowl held a pond of herb green, and the creamy yellow scrambled centre enveloped a salty mollusk. The verdant sabayon was mimicked with fresh slices of chives sprinkled on top.
Scrambled Organic Egg with US Oyster, Chive Sabayon and Tapioca Pearl
The pairing, a Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay 2009 from California, smelt of ripe stone fruit and had a buttery palate with strong flavours of stewed apples and a touch of grapefruit at the finish. The wine certainly buttered up the dish with its mirroring of this characteristic, yet too the fruit on the nose balanced the savoury traits of the food. Relishing this dish with absolute delight, I don’t know if I can ever go back to the simple, (although famous) hawker oyster omelette.
Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay 2009
Flower Prawn Poached in Citrus Butter, Thai Basil Coulis, Curd Cheese and Avruga Caviar. Paired with Italian Banfi Le Rime Toscana IGT 2012. Resembling an artist’s impression of the sea, a mermaid tail shaped prawn formed the focal point on a bed of seaweed (Thai basil coulis). An unexpected risotto of Rice Crispies hid underneath and, rolls of thinly sliced zucchini, filled with home made goat’s cheese and wheeled in orange and green herbs, dotted the skirting as if smaller creatures swimming in the sea. The taste of the ocean was the highlight of this dish and the chardonnay and pinot grigio blend enhanced this sensation.
Flower Prawn Poached in Citrus Butter, Thai Basil Coulis, Curd Cheese and Avruga Caviar
Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Salted Kurao, Cauliflower Floret and Pommes Brunoise. A smoking bowl appeared on our table holding cauliflower and potato cubes. While the base continued to billow, waiters poured a dense creamy soup from above. Local dried kurao fish (from Pangkor Island) ground into a fine salt provided seasoning on the side. Leaving the combination of ingredients until the last minute meant, the vegetables maintained their crunch furnishing a wonderful disparity between their firmness and the velvety texture of the cream. A semi sun dried tomato dashed the top with colour. Hubby’s only three words between spoonfuls summed up both of our feelings on the dish, “A food genius.”
Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Salted Kurao, Cauliflower Floret and Pommes Brunoise
Sherbet. A tiny Japanese bowl bore a pineapple and ginger flower sorbet celebrating influence from Penang’s famous assam laksa. I adore the lip smacking sourness of this delightful soup so the sherbet was a clear winner. Unlike the recent, overly creative transformation of many inter-meal sherbets, this one was actually a palate cleanser – not dessert – appropriate and inventive without losing sight of its purpose.
Choice of Mains
Pan Fried and Baked Chicken Breast in Coriander and Truffle Potato Mousse, Bell Pepper Coulis and Ratatouille. Paired with Catena Zapata Alamos Selection Pinot Noir 2010 from Argentina’s Mendoza Valley. A green creamy sauce with dots of red and black caviar coated tender strips of poultry. The potato mousse provided a creamy tame taste, while the red pepper coulis gave a powerful pop to the sauces. Petite balls of steamed potato rolled in various herb crustings added both colour and a garden of flavour.
Pinot noir is one of the hardest grapes to grow, but when done right has potential, with the right artisan, to be turned into one of the more memorable liquids you’ll ever imbibe. This pairing was perfect as the truffle brought out the earthy notes of the wine and vice versa. The usually delicate pinot noir was able to stand up to the strongly roasted capsicum ending with a tiny bite of resistance in the mouth. Ratatouille hit the front of the palate with a gentle sweetness, almost calming the tension between the red wine and capsicum.
Catena Zapata Alamos Selection Pinot Noir 2010
Crispy Duck Leg Confit, Duck Jus, Roasted Sweet Potato and Gremolata. A succulent interior and smashingly-crispy exterior are basically what a superb duck confit boils down to. Chef Lance has this age-old French dish mastered and with sweet potato balancing out the savoury, it’s a dish I’ll return for.
Kaffir Lime Scented Crème Brulee with Palm Sugar Crumble and Chocolate Ice Cream with Karrif Lime Zest. Paired with Willy Gisselbrecht 2010 from Alsace, France. It’s the delicacy of this dish that makes it super. A svelte rectangle of lime brulee with a brittle top reflected the creaminess of the floaty ice cream, which in turn shadowed the richness of the palm sugar crumble and brought us full circle, back to the lime flavour, with dainty dots of lemon curd. Crumbly, creamy, cold, tart, fantastic!
Kaffir Lime Scented Crème Brulee
Seeing Riesling and what I assumed a German word, Gisselbrecht, on the wine bottle label, and not having tasted many dryer versions of the grape outside of Europe, I was expecting a cloy saccharine finish. This wine, however, was surprisingly dry and went perfectly with the lemon curd.
We would have been quite happy to end there, but there’s more! Tea, coffee and Petite Fours. Dark chocolates with kaffir lime cream, chocolate macarons and sable pastries with cream cheese and a strawberry sliver presented well on the plate and tasted delicious, however, we think Chef Lance needs to inject a little more of himself into the ending. He tells us he’ll work on it.
At Chef Lance’s table, the familiar becomes interesting, the homely exciting. Elements of the things we love about habitual foods are brought to life with a new swivel on the original design. It’s not too much. It’s not molecular. It’s more like an innocent child’s refreshing take on what is customary. Dinner at the Dining Room, Macalister Mansion is without fail, a culinary adventure – not one where you’re grasping the reins with your knuckles clenched white, but one where a gentle chaperone guides you gently into new territory.
The Host Table (Table d’ Hote) menu is priced at RM183++ per person. Essentially it’s nine dishes if you include the amuse bouche and petit fours. I think it’s good value for the quality presented. To enjoy the menu with wine pairing add an additional RM95++. This menu, however, can only be ordered for the entire table.
Reason to visit: participate in history and catch this young talented chef in the making, Kaffir Lime Scented Crème Brulee, Assam Laksa Sherbet, Scrambled Organic Egg with Oyster, Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallop