This Way Out: Australia’s Reserve Restaurant Maleny

<em>11415_792926694083618_103005035062485953_nEscape Hatch contributor April Orcutt spent a few days Down Under and files this report from one of Oz’s buzz worthy restaurants. Her last story revisited Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s zoo. 

A great restaurant not only serves spectacular food: it is also adaptable. In these days when so many people have many culinary “issues,” it was refreshing to discover such a professional establishment, even if one has to go to Australia to find it. We’re speaking of the Reserve Restaurant Maleny in the “hinterlands” (that’s what they call it) east of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.

Six diners sat down to enjoy the nightly special of a five-course prix-fixe degustation menu with “wines to match.” The waiter approached the table. “Does anyone have any questions or food allergies?” he naively asked. The first man said he was highly allergic to nuts. Another man said he could not eat seafood. A woman said she could not eat chocolate or dishes made with wine because they are migraine triggers. Another woman said she did not drink and was gluten-intolerant. By the time the whole table responded, five people had non-overlapping food allergies, sensitivities or strong dislikes. Only one person was an omnivore. The waiter turned a little pale. After all, the chef’s-choice degustation menu is Reserve Restaurant Maleny’s speciality. “I’ll get the chef,” he said.

The chef nodded, said okay, said he understood – and went on to prepare not five courses of dishes but more like fifteen given the lack of food-issue overlap and the individual attention each diner needed. You don’t want escargot or garlic? He’ll give you a beet dish with toasted pine nuts, licorice and avocado. No boudin noir with the crackling port belly with raisins and baby carrots? No problem. Can’t eat seared scallops with guanciale and salmorejo? He’ll put together a twice-baked goat-curd souffle with pistachios and Parmesan.

The chefs and staff had three evening’s worth of work for one small group of diners – but very happy diners who had no worries about later breaking out in hives and who thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of delicious tastes they experienced at Reserve Restaurant Maleny.

Reserve Restaurant Maleny, 840 Landsborough-Maleny Rd., Maleny, Queensland 4552, Australia.

five-course degustation menu US$60 plus US$35 wines to match

seven-course degustation menu US$75 plus US$45 wines to match

nine-course degustation menu US$90 plus US$60 wines to match.