I've always liked the idea of being a lady who lunches.
Such a civilised way to spend a day, usually reserved for those with extra cash to splash. And thus, it somewhat feels like an unattainable goal - work tends to get in the way during the week and weekends are usually too filled with mundane tasks like laundry and food shopping to make it a regular thing.
But just this once, we're going to live out all my Emily Gilmore (of Gilmore Girls fame) dreams with a fancy lunch on a Saturday. We can pretend this is a regular occurrence, right?
Heading into Parlour is like stepping back in time, its decor giving off the allure of vintage elegance and its almost hidden New Acton location making it feel exclusive.
It's a simple menu for lunch - a few different options for mains and sides, and then a couple of desserts to finish off with.
We kick things off with the pappardelle with wild mushrooms, porcini, pecorino and lemon zest, and the market fish with tomato bisque, pickled mussels and sauteed chicory.
The pasta starts this meal on a high for me. It is the perfect winter meal, capturing the earthiness that I love in my meals this time of year. The parsley and garlic compliment the richness of the mushrooms and the burnt butter adds a caramelised note to the equation. It's the type of dish that makes you feel like you're at home in a cosy cottage.
The fish comes out with a super crispy skin - almost a little too crispy as it is hard to cut through - but it adds this delicious saltiness when combined with the soft flesh that falls apart as soon as the fork touches it. It was the tomato bisque with pickled mussels that attracted me to this dish on the menu, and it is a great pairing with the fish - the tomato bringing a sweetness to the dish, with the capers, mussels and olives adding this vinaigrette tang to things. Meanwhile, the chicory seems to round out the dish as a whole.
On the side, we opt for the chat potatoes, cooked in duck fat and served with smoked citrus aioli and charred cos heart with pecorino and lemon myrtle vinaigrette.
Who doesn't love potatoes? They are the wonder vegetable, and these are cooked perfectly with a golden exterior and fluffy insides. The sprinkling of lemon zest added this fun brightness to the dish - so much so it might just be a new addition next time I make roast potatoes. But it's brought together with the tang in the citrus aioli. I'm not a huge fan of sauce on the side just cause, but it feels like a well-considered addition here.
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The char-grilled lettuce on the other hand does not seem as well balanced. The charred element does work well with the vinaigrette and the sharpness of the parmesan, but there just seemed to be an issue with the balancing of ingredients here. If there was more vinaigrette, in particular, really coating all of those leaves of the cos heart, we wouldn't have the moments of slightly warmed lettuce with no topping that came up regularly when eating the dish.
No ladies-who-lunch outing is complete without something sweet however, and we opt for one of each of the options on the menu - the mandarin pannacotta with white chocolate and biscuit crumb, and the strawberries and cream with strawberries three ways, cardamom cream and native plum. And spoiler alert - we were onto two winners here and were divided as to which we each preferred.
My friend preferred the strawberries and cream - a simple but surprising dish. With a meringue crisp carrying through that same punch of cardamom that appeared in the cream, while the mix of freeze-dried, fresh and stewed strawberries brings different elements of the fruit to the dish. And in the very centre was the stewed native plum, bringing a slight tang and adding complexity to what could have been a very sweet dish.
My favourite, however, was the mandarin pannacotta - which had a wobble that seemed to defy some sort of law of physics. The silky smooth texture had just a hint of mandarin bringing an all round freshness to the dish. Topped with freeze-dried raspberry and Biscoff-like crumb, it hit all the sweet, tangy and caramelised notes you would want.
It put a high note on what may be a rare ladies lunch event. But then so did a lot of the dishes. Perhaps I should find a more permanent way to be a lady who lunches after all.
Address: 16 Kendall Lane, New Acton
Phone: 6257 7325
Hours: Tuesday, noon to 3pm. Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 10pm
Chef: Vincenzo Pagano
Dietary: Plenty of options
Noise: Not a problem
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