It’s been a lousy summer in Australia. Instead of the beach, Aussies have been swimming in flood waters. Summer set a consistently dreary pace and now all that’s looming is the thought of winter, daylight wasting, comfort eating and inevitable weight gain.
Luckily chef Jacqui Gowan at The Burlington Bar and Dining has taken an inspired, two-pronged approach to this problem:
- Have a menu that savours the idea of summer: light, fresh, relaxed and vibrant.
- Make it low fat, low carb, and full of bouncy happy vitamins and minerals to fight off the impending hibernation weight and wintry cold and flu.
It’s a genius concept. Can it be done though, you ask.
I’m excited at the outset to see labna (yoghurt-based cheese) on the menu, among an heirloom tomato salad. “Oh, a salad, how original,” you say, but it is a-mazing. The tiny tomatoes burst in the mouth and pair perfectly with the tangy creaminess of labna rolled in za’atar. The whole dish explodes with flavour from the juicy tomatoes, the labna and spices, but also basil and parsley gracefully woven amongst it. It’s a salad for non-believers, with crostini thrown in as well for the extra crunch (or to scoop up any remaining labna!).
Salmon gravlax perhaps epitomizes the light meal, and it’s a classic starter on the menu. Paired with well-loved bedfellows in a radish, watercress and caper salad, the salmon is cured to perfection and hits every note that it should and echoes harmoniously afterwards.
For mains, pan-fried Hiramasa kingfish is succulent and placed atop a bed of quinoa. Not just jumping on the trendwagon, quinoa is expertly combined with pistachio, currants and lifted by zesty gremolata. The net effect is yummy quinoa – something which, our whole table concurs, is difficult to achieve – and a rich middle eastern tone to the dish. Oven-roasted Milly Hill lamb rump is a surprising inclusion on a light lunch menu. Admittedly, it comes in a depressingly small portion, but this is made up for by its heartiness going down with cherry tomatoes and a judicious smear of smoky eggplant melizano.
The sweet tooth has not been forgotten either, with a light coconut panna cotta that incorporates mango jelly and pineapple ice, evoking the tropics. It even looks like a little cocktail. It’s relatively guilt-free and ends the meal without being cloying or heavy, although it compromises on taste slightly more than other dishes.
The Burlington is the perfect place for a lunchtime catch-up to escape the business crowd bustling outside. Its menu is very agreeable to the curious palate, well considered and crafted with a range of cultural influences. Available throughout March, the light lunch menu means there is no excuse not to eat well and eat healthy at the same time. With a glass of Invivo Bella sauvignon blanc in hand (a low-cal wine that has to be tasted to be believed), you can finally, honestly, make a toast à votre santé!
The Burlington Bar and Dining
6 Burlington St
Crows Nest, New South Wales