Not all lamb is created equally. To really experience this I was invited to attend a special dinner to try out Three Rivers Saltbush Lamb from the Echuca region along the Murray. This lamb is raised on a single property and the lamb grazes on native saltbush, long the “seasoning” in indigenous Australians diet. The lambs are raised, slaughtered and then sold by the Peat family who were all at the dinner at the Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel.
The Fitzroy Town Hotel has had a major makeover since last time I was there and this old timer has spruced up very nicely. It’s all dark tones, moody lighting and polished wooden furniture.
Chef Sean Donovan cooks the sort of food you find at the best British gastro pubs: comforting and simple, letting the quality of the ingredients shine through. We started with were roast Clarence River prawns grilled to the point of smokiness and wrapped in crispy prosciutto alongside slightly bitter radicchio.
Then to the Three Rivers lamb. There were huge shoulders of it slow cooked and glazed with Madeira. It was incredibly rich and sticky with delicious crispy burnt ends while the rest of the meat was so soft it fell apart at the fork.
But it was in the grilled lamb cutlets teamed with earthy mushrooms that you could really taste the flavour of the Three Rivers Saltbush lamb. It was leaner than most lamb with a sweet yet salty flavour.
The meal finished with a traditional English bread and butter pudding which was sticky and sweet in all the right ways. This was a meal that felt like a return to simpler times especially listening to the Peat family speak about their land and produce. It’s great to see farmers taking control of the supply chain in an era of mass production and supermarket duoplolies and wonderful to eat meat which so clearly tastes of its origins.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Three Rivers at the dinner.
Details: Three Rivers Saltbush Lamb, served at Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel, 166 Johnson street, Fitzroy (Ph 03 9416 5055)
Damage: Pricey. On this occasion I did not pay.