This post was lost – but ince the news of the impending closure of Loam on June 30 – why not give it the airing it deserves? So here is our very edited experience:
A landmark birthday deserves a mouthwatering, wallet-lightening all-out splurge. And so to mark Photo Monkey’s birthday we borrowed our friends’ spare wheels and headed to the Bellarine Peninsula, turning off down a dirt track and rocking up an hour-and-a-half after leaving the city at Lighthouse Olive Grove – home of Loam. Overlooking rows of olive trees with the sparkling waters of Swan Bay in the distance the location immediately focuses your attention on the countryside – and that kind of sums up what this Drysdale haunt is all about – accomplished and experimental cooking that allows great ingredients to shine through in all their glory. It’s also about local produce that has been locally foraged and (in some cases) sourced from further afield. Our dessert course featured a grass sorbet and the dehydrated stems of three-leaf clovers growing just metres from the dining room. As I said – simple, local, experimental.
Anyway, we arrived and got a table with a great view – not that hard considering the dining room only has 12 or so tables and just about all the seats are angled towards the large windows that overlook the greenery outside and arranged around a huge wooden waiters station dotted with flowers in test tubes (in a rustic not clinical way) and veggies. As well as plenty of cutlery and posh cutlery for the multi-course tasting menus – go for 4, 7, 9 all of which can be matched with wines (mainly small Victorian produces, with a smattering of offerings from elsewhere in Australia and Europe).
Appetisers set the standard pretty high – wafer-thin salmon jerky, pickled mussels and cheese twists – sound simple but the flavours were spot on.
Clam, butter beans, rice starch and sea palm
Smoked heirloom carrots, quark, milk, tarragon
Snapper, anchovy, avocado, pork fat
Duck tongues, salsify, chickweed, horseradish
O’Connor beef, Jerusalem artichoke, sea lettuce, thyme
Mandarin, almond, coconut, young pine
Grass, parsley, sorrel, whole lemon, chocolate
650 Andersons Rd
(03) 5251 1101
One of country Victoria’s most innovative and respected restaurants, the Bellarine Peninsula’s two-hatted Loam, is to close. The restaurant’s landlord, Marcus Oldham College, has announced it is advertising the restaurant’s lease, which ends on June 30.
A college spokesman said Loam was offered another three-year lease but the owners, chef Aaron Turner and his wife, restaurant manager, Astrid, chose not to renew it. “It’s time to explore other options,” Aaron said. Last summer customers found Loam closed, unexpectedly, for several weeks during peak holiday season. At the time, the Turners cited “difficult family matters they preferred remain private,” adding then they had considered closing Loam as a result, but had decided to continue.
Owner-chef Aaron Turner has just released this statement: “After four phenomenal years we’ve decided to close the doors, catch our breath, seek out new inspirations and prepare for new challenges. We cannot truly begin to convey our gratitude for the invaluable support we have received from our guests, esteemed colleagues, generous reviewers, passionate producers and winemakers. You are all responsible for some of the most edifying, inspirational and rewarding years of our careers and indeed, our lives. Your encouragement, respect and faith in us has been truly humbling. Thank you for making the journey to find us and allowing us to welcome you in to the little restaurant we’ve called home.”
Awarded regional restaurant of the year in the 2012 Age Good Food Guide, Loam was part of an elite group—Victoria’s six two-hatted regional restaurants. Aaron Turner opened the restaurant after working overseas with the current #1 and #2 from the World’s 50 Best list, Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca, and Denmark’s Noma. Loam sits on the Prudence Myer campus of Marcus Oldham College – a property gifted to the college by the Myer family – which will continue to operate as Lighthouse Olive Grove.