What to order at Laura

Published on 10 February 2021

Photo: Lobster flambe, smoked cabbage and medlar sauce (credit Chris McConville)

The inside word on the rebooted menu at the Pt Leo fine-diner from chef Phil Wood.

Laura, the flagship food offering at Pt. Leo Estate on the Mornington Peninsula, has unveiled a new look to its dining room and also menu offering.
Culinary director Phil Wood has added an à la carte menu on weekdays, and a longer format on the weekends (four or eight courses). All the menus celebrate classic technique with Wood’s signature modern interpretations.

The wine list, curated by sommelier Andrew Murch, lists 750 cuvées and traverses the globe with a strong selection from Victoria as well as a focus on Champagne, many wines with bottle-age and close to 40 wines by the glass.

Here’s Wood’s highlights tour of the new offer.

How about a drink?
Our bartender Jakob has designed some amazing cocktails for Laura. My pick is the Negroni Royale – a Negroni served up and topped with Champagne. He also has a mean Martini list. On the other hand, you could just order a bottle of Billecart’s Cuvée Elisabeth. I can’t think of a better match with our oysters.

Which of the dishes on the new menu best captures the vibe at Laura right now?
Speaking of oysters, my wife Lis’s guilty pleasure used to be stopping off at the David Jones Food Hall on the way home from work for half a dozen oysters Mornay and a glass of Champagne, and I always wanted to make her a deluxe version. At Laura we bake each oyster together with a parmesan sabayon flavoured with Champagne, and then top the oyster with a parmesan crisp and a generous serve of Beluga caviar.

The trumpet spaghetti with basil, blue cheese and pistachio has also been a hit. It’s a beautiful vegetable dish that showcases the king trumpet mushrooms we get from Mushroom Forestry. They’re gently sautéed in butter with roasted pistachio nuts, dressed with a light basil sauce and finished with a whipped blue cheese cream made using a fantastic blue from local cheesemaker, Boatshed Cheese.

What if I’m here for a good time not a long time?
We don’t want fine dining to be something serious that’s done just once a year, and we’re very fortunate to have regulars at Laura. Mid-week you can come in and choose our two-course à la carte menu if you’re after a beautiful meal but don’t have all the time in the world. Even on the weekend, we always have a four-course menu available as well as our all-out eight-course spectacular. 

Got anything light and fresh?
The lightest dish on the menu is a deceptively simple tuna tataki. We infuse soy milk with rosemary and borlotti beans and then set it to order into silken tofu on the plate. The tuna is placed on top and dressed with fried capers, dill and a bonito emulsion. The dish was inspired by the classic flavours of vitello tonnato.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
The vegan eight-course menu is banging at the moment. I’m really proud of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but the tomato Alaska is a pretty unique final savoury course.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Lobster! I’ve got lobster ready for you! We are flambéing tableside using Jimmy Rum, a fantastic local rum from Dromana. It is served with gently smoked cabbage and a sauce made from medlar fruit wine, something I made over lockdown last year.

And to close?
Peninsula strawberries are incredible and perfect for a soufflé. The flavour is so intense and the aroma at the table is amazing. For those who prefer some booze in their dessert, we are using Jimmy Rum to finish off a rum baba. You pick your rum – silver, navy or Barbados – and each drop comes with its own flavoured whipped cream designed to complement the flavours of that particular rum.

The restaurant looks out over the Pt Leo sculpture garden; is there a piece there that you’d recommend above the rest?
The newest addition to the park is a showstopper – SHARE, an 18-foot tall KAWS sculpture commissioned by the Gandels, the owners of the estate. If I had to choose a personal favourite, it’d be Mirri by Reko Rennie. Resplendent in neon pink and black, it’s positioned on a beautiful grassy hill which I hear is also very good to roll down. Of course, I couldn’t possibly comment myself. Jaume Plensa’s Laura, which inspired the name for the restaurant, is another striking piece that plays with first impressions.

One for the road?
Everyone who dines at Laura gets a little gift from us to take home. You can also stop at the cellar door on the way out to pick up a bottle of that chardonnay that you loved with dinner.

Book your table at Laura now online or on (03) 5989 9011, 3649 Frankston-Flinders Rd, Merricks, ptleoestate.com.au, @ptleoestate.

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