Historic Merrijig Inn is nestled in Port Fairy, 27km west of Warrnambool and the end of the Great Ocean Road. Home of Ryan Sessions and his wife Kirstyn since 2006, the self taught chef has never worked further afield than Warrnambool yet brings with him an enormous amount of talent. Awarded The Age Good Food Guide 2010’s ‘Country Restaurant of the Year’, 2 Chef Hats for three consecutive years and 81st in the Australian Gourmet Traveller 2011’s Top 100, a visit to Merrijig was a must on our travels.
Horseradish foam with raw chestnuts, kohlrabi and thyme.
Set atop a gorgeous black plate the amuse bouche was tantalising, the creaminess of the foam interrupted by the crisp chestnuts and kohlrabi, followed by a kick of thyme. Taste buds alive, we were eager to see what the rest of the night would bring.
Crayfish “sand”, roe, coastal herbs & petals, sea lettuce, see grass ($5 supplement).
My entrée was breathtaking, I had a little part of the coast on my plate presented beautifully with great attention to detail. The crayfish meat was juicy, contrasting with the crunch of the ‘sand’ and followed by a little pop of the roe.
“Rockpool” – a taste of our coast.
Ryan tells wonderful stories with his food, showcasing his amazing skills and the wonderful offerings of the coast – ‘sand’ on my plate and a ‘rockpool’ on Dylan’s. The cheese consommé was rich and indulgent and the vegetables were gorgeous and fresh. Needless to say we were both more than impressed with our entrées.
Free range egg yolk, spring vegetables, smoked potato, chestnuts, herbs and petals.
He may not have worked with the likes of Rene Redzepi, Peter Gilmore or Tetsuya, but Ryan Sessions’ presentation is pure art. My second course looked exquisite, the egg yolk encircled by the spring vegetables, herbs and petals. I was thrilled when I cut into the egg yolk and it burst, I love runny egg yolks and the silky texture went so nicely with the rest of the dish.
Yabbies, asparagus, broad beans, peas, almond, roe.
Dylan’s yabbies looked plump and fresh, jumping off the vivid greenery of peas, asparagus and broad beans and little clusters of roe adding more colour and another textural element.
Double lamb cutlet, broccolini, kipfler, ewe’s milk, warrigal greens.
‘Meat and three veg’ on a whole new level! Seasoned well and cooked to perfection the lamb was lovely and tender with the ewe’s milk yoghurt adding another dimension of flavour to the seasonal vegetables. And I love the choice of crockery with a different style to suit each course.
Wagyu eye fillet (cooked medium rare), baby beetroot, pickled rose and rhubarb, chard ($5 supplement).
Beets, rose, rhubarb, chard and medium rare beef; so many shades of red leaping off the simple white plate. Like the lamb, the wagyu was seasoned perfectly and cooked superbly with a crisp edge and pink centre. Dylan and wagyu, a match made in heaven. All I can say is I am lucky I got to taste the dish at all.
Chocolate, hazelnuts, caramel.
Chocolate, hazelnuts, caramel… they had me at chocolate. Although the camera had just malfunctioned, I managed to take a quick snap on my mobile before digging in. A somewhat deconstructed tart if you will, the chocolate was accompanied by its two best friends hazelnuts and caramel and I was in dessert heaven!
Pears; custard, ice cream, poached, granita, caramel.
An assiette of pears – a total of 5 ways. The topping of pear granita was subtle yet refreshing, the poached pears soft and not overly grainy, whilst the mild pear caramel increased the sweetness of the dish and was counterbalanced by slightly too hard pear ice cream. It was however the pear custard in all its velvety glory that stole the show. A mountain of pears with a peak of granita nicely finishing off an amazing meal.
1 Campbell Street
Port Fairy VIC 3284
(03) 5568 2324
Merrijig Inn Website