Dining Out: The Bay Tree, Melbourne
PUBLISHED: 10:37 26 July 2016 | UPDATED: 10:37 26 July 2016
With one of the county’s most celebrated chefs at its helm, this fine dining restaurant in Melbourne has all the right ingredients
Since opening its doors in the heart of Melbourne in 1988, the Bay Tree has been recognised as one of the finest places to dine in Derbyshire. With a successful formula of friendly service, a relaxing ambience, and deftly prepared modern British dishes with a Pan Asian twist, the restaurant’s reputation has continued to flourish, and as it approaches its 30th birthday it boasts an offering that is as enticing as ever.
Proprietor and head chef Rex Howell has been at the helm since day one and uses influences from around the world – particularly the Far East, where he was born – when devising his menus, which include Champagne breakfast, three course lunch, a ‘fast-track’ lunch and an evening menu (served Wed-Sat from 6.30pm).
On entering the restaurant from the corner of charming Potter Street, diners walk through the small, pleasant bar area – which offers a superb selection of fine wines and homemade cocktails – before stepping down to the dining room, beautifully decorated with sleek, sophisticated furniture and a soft, cool, blue and grey colour scheme. With a handful of tables, it’s just the right size to maintain a sense of intimacy and manager Pascal ensures all diners are given undivided attention.
We visited to sample the evening menu and began with mini bruschettas topped with garlic and piquant tomato, followed by a delicious demi-tasse of soup that packed a surprisingly big punch considering its dainty size; examples of the thoughtful touches that make dining here feel more like an occasion than a meal.
My starter of duck and chicken liver parfait with watercress dressing was velvet-smooth and enhanced by crispy melba toast. Candied hazelnuts and caramelised apple purée added a sweet contrast to the creamy, meaty flavours.
My partner’s green pea risotto was so artfully presented it was almost too good to disturb, with lightly seared scallops sandwiched between layers of chorizo, topped with pea shoots and mint that kept the dish summery and light.
For my main course, I enjoyed steamed escalope of Scottish salmon with an innovative basil foam, tomato concasse, a bed of sticky black rice and buttered peas and carrots. My partner’s 48 hour slow-cooked English belly pork, served with Jerusalem artichoke purée, a fantastic broad bean and pea fricassée and a grain mustard and pork jus was a real show-stopper.
After two such delicious courses, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the dessert menu – aptly titled ‘Sweet Destiny’. Sticky toffee pudding, carpaccio of pineapple and fruits sabayon were amongst the options but on reading ‘mousse-filled chocolate pyramid with chocolate soil and white chocolate crème fraîche’, I knew that ‘The Pyramid’ was the one for me. This was another beautifully presented dish: air-light mousse encased in marbled chocolate with a ‘hidden’ raspberry jelly centre. A sprinkling of 18ct gold leaf was the pièce de résistance.
My partner’s dessert was no less impressive – creamy Italian panna cotta with simple accompaniments of fresh strawberries, jelly cubes, meringue ‘pearls’ and an unusual but complementary dusting of coriander. We finished with coffee and homemade chocolates.
At £32.50 for three courses or £27 for two, the Bay Tree offers fine dining at exceptional value for money. Take into account the attentive service and the inventive dishes Rex and his team produce, and you have a restaurant that has surely discovered the recipe for continued success.
The Bay Tree, 4 Potter St, Derby DE73 8HW, 01332 863358, baytreerestaurant.com