There have been some great dining experiences recently for this writer that I would like to write about.
The first I would like to document is the wonderful Shakey Tables: http://www.shakeytables.com.au
Dinner at Shakey Tables in the Hunter Valley in NSW is always a unique and sensuous dining experience. The food philosophy of chef Paula Rengger combines contemporary and classical styles, and also reflects her other passion, visual art, and examples of her paintings are a feature of the decor of the dining space.
The name Shakey Tables comes from the original dining arrangement with unmatched chairs and tables, different sizes and styles, quaint and indeed shakey!
The space is quirky, which I suppose has made it attractive to this writer. Dining chairs upholstered in various bright hues, a giant candelabra on the floor with ancient dripping candles, and a bar area richly decorated with sofas and chairs in fabrics with luscious textures, gives the space a bohemian rococo style. These photos may suggest the feel.
I have had many dinners at ShakeyTables, and I am always excited to see what the menu holds. There are always surprises.
Wagygu beef and pork belly often feature.
“Jacks Creek Wagyu beef tri tip marble score 7, cherry tomatoes, pommes frites, red wine jus”and “Pork 4 ways – belly with sage & onion jam, caramelized apple with a trotter croquette, braised cheek with a muscat reduction, colcannon mash & house cured bacon” are typical examples of ingenious and flavorsome cooking.
“Beetroot ravioli stuffed with buffalo mozzarella, baby tomatoes, basil pesto, black olive, white anchovy” shows that dishes without meat exhibit depth and breadth of flavour.
Of course, Quirky’s love of desserts is absolutely indulged at Shakey Tables…my favourite – and it remains on Paula’s menu as a classic – is the famous Cranachan, Paula’s homage to her Scottish heritage:
“Cranachan 2 a traditional Scottish Wedding dessert
Raspberry & toasted oatmeal ice cream terrine with almond praline & whisky cream filled tuile cigars”
The artifice of the checquer board of raspberry and honey and oatmeal ice cream sitting atop those whisky cream tuiles is almost too good to eat…. but greed overcomes any recalcitrance to disturb the perfect image.
“Rose, pistachio & lychee ice cream terrine, with Turkish delight in a rose scented jus & pistachio fairy floss”is another visually stunning dessert. The Middle Eastern flavours are fragrant, subtle and marry perfectly with the delicate colours of pastel green and more robust pink.
The food is complemented by excellent wine provided by the other part of the Shakey Tables partnership, sommelier Simon. I don’t claim to have the same knowledge of wine as I do of food, but the oenophiles who have dined with me at Shakey speak highly of the selection of wine and of Simon’s expertise.
Shakey Tables combines fine food with fine dining with generosity and simplicity of flavours, in an arty space that really appeals to a sense of fun.