Brunch. Has there ever been a better invention in the history of all human kind? When you consider that it merges the deliciousness of breakfast food with the convenient, sleep-in friendly timing of lunch then I’m sure you’re as hard pressed as me to come up with something better. Sure computers, reverse cycle air conditioning and penicillin are all pretty good, but ask yourself one question, do they come with Bloody Marys? That’s right, if brunch wasn’t already bad-ass enough it turns out that for some unknown reason it’s totally acceptable to make it a boozy affair too. Order a larger or neat whiskey with your cornflakes first thing in the morning and people give you odd looks and start planning interventions, but wait a couple of hours, mix your alcohol with tomato or orange juice and order it with eggs and all of a sudden you’re transformed from a problem drinker in to a cheeky man/woman about town indulging in a naughty (but totally understandable) little treat to kick-start the day. It’s total and utter genius!
What with all the sleeping in and stealth alcoholism already involved in brunch you’d be forgiven for thinking that this most glorious mash-up of meals couldn’t be made any more decadent, but those masterminds down at Baby Mammoth have managed to do just that with their Brunch Degustation. Served from 10am to 2pm every Saturday it elevates things to a whole other level of indulgence offering diners 6 courses of deliciousness (plus coffee) for a mere $40! Now if that’s not sinfully brilliant enough for you then I’m sorry but you’ll just have be content to stay in your ivory tower eating caviar-stuffed foie gras out of your baby seal fur lined pimp cup with a jewel encrusted silver spoon. Seeing as how I can resist anything but temptation a couple of weeks ago I decided to round up a posse, grab a few bottles of bubbly and head on down for a little weekend brunch debauchery.
Course 1: Patisseries, fruit salad and toasted muesli
Settling in with a cheeky glass of Prosecco as our crowd assembled it wasn’t long before we were all present and accounted for and ready to get things under way. Getting to choose your pastry from the service platter was a novel and ever-so-slightly-posh to way to kick things off that helped set the right tone for what was to follow. Small, sweet, buttery and well-made, the patisseries were counterbalanced by the light healthiness of the muesli and fruit salad. All up it was a great start and a good move to begin in familiar breakfast territory before taking our taste buds on the meandering journey that was to follow.
Course 2: Congee appetiser with diced spam, duck egg and spring onions
For the uninitiated of you out there, congee is a South East Asian rice porridge dish. Disappointed with my relatively bland first, somewhat tentative taste it wasn’t until I dived in for a more generous spoonful that I found out what this dish was really about. Along with the fried spam, duck egg and spring onions were a few pickled items and other treats. This meant that the plain porridge was interspersed with bursts of salty and sour flavours and different crunchy textures. Somewhat quirky and left-of-centre it was very enjoyable and a good way of ramping up the flavours a little before the next course.
Course 3: Poached quail egg, Spanish Duroc ham, grilled polenta and Manchego cheese
Jumping all the way from South East Asia to the Iberian Peninsula for the third course, Chef and co-owner Ryan Lambson combined numerous punchy flavours in this Spanish ode to bacon and eggs. Soft, salty ham, great cheesy polenta and rich quail eggs were all wonderfully set off by a light drizzle of truffle oil. Marvellous stuff.
Course 4: Black pudding and porcini ravioli with oxtail consommé served with a cheeky non-alcoholic tomato cocktail
Firstly I’ll just say that I normally wouldn’t tolerate the serving of non-alcoholic beverages in such a setting (however tasty and appropriate they may have been), but the Baby Mammoth guys get a free pass here as they are still in the process of acquiring their liquor license and as such any vodka lurking about would have been regrettably illegal. Moving on to the food, the ravioli was certainly a bold move and one that divided opinions amongst the crew. Along with the black pudding and porcini the filling also contained blue goat’s cheese, which I probably don’t need to tell you made for some full-on flavours. Offset by the delicate consommé it was definitely a well-constructed dish but also one that tended to provoke a love-it-or-hate-it type response. I was definitely in the ‘love it’ camp, and beyond that I have to applaud the bravery of putting on such a bold and adventurous dish rather than just playing it safe and catering to the conservative masses.
Course 5: Salmon with celeriac crisp, beetroot puree and broccoli
Simple, elegant and beautifully cooked and put together this was the perfect follow up to the complex intensity of the previous course. The sweetness and moistness of the salmon was accentuated by the beetroot puree and a light charring gave the broccoli and wonderful flavour and texture.
Course 6: Poached peaches on a French brioche with honey and ice cream
I normally despise all stone fruit, so it’s nothing short of miraculous that both times I’ve been to Baby Mammoth they’ve given me peaches and I’ve really, really enjoyed them. Jammy peaches, sweet bready brioche and creamy ice cream all came together here in a way that capped off the meal perfectly without leaving you feeling overly full or bloated. Simply divine!
Arriving for our booking at 11am and leaving some time after 2pm, I can honestly say that it was one of the most pleasurable three hours of dining I’ve had in a long time. There’s something magical about taking your time and stretching a meal out over so many courses and such a long period of time when it’s done right, and I have to say that the crew at Baby Mammoth nailed it. Well-paced and carefully thought out, the meal expertly set the courses off against one another and managed to hit the somewhat difficult mark of leaving everyone satisfied and in a state of elegant sufficiency. My only criticisms are that they service was a little shaky at times (which is understandable for somewhere that’s only been open a very short while) and the coffee was very sub-par (but given that you’re essentially getting it for free on top of an already very reasonably priced meal it’s hard to get too annoyed at this). Anyway, I’m sure that with time they’ll tighten things up in both areas, well here’s hoping that they do as everything else was spot on. So if you’ve got $40 and a few hours to spend on a Saturday and feel like a little well-earned indulgence then I highly recommend arming yourselves with a few bottles of fizz and paying Baby Mammoth a visit. I’m sure-as-hell glad I did!
For more photos of my visit click here to check out my Facebook photo set (and remember to like the page while you’re there).