On winding down the distinctly native garden path to Wickens at the Royal Mail, the native bird chirps coming from speakers hidden in trees suggest that a live performance by actual birds couldn't be left to chance. Chef Robin Wickens wants this experience to be perfectly curated.
The dining room is moody and dimly lit, drawing our attention to the vast window framing Mount Sturgeon and the ancient gumtrees full of (real) birdlife. Italian hand-blown lights hover over impressive tables made of local solid sandstone, but unfortunately, animal leather placemats and chairs also take pride of place.
The Royal Mail Kitchen Garden is the most productive kitchen garden in Australia and provides all of the produce showcased in the five ($170) or eight-course ($195) degustations. We opted for eight courses (it ends up being more like 12) and ate like vegan royalty for I kid you not, over four hours.
The degustation starts with a series of canapes, such as the 'beetroot pop tart,' 'apple, watercress mustard cracker' and 'fermented radish, smoked maple with leek ash.' Funnily enough, though, it was the homemade sourdough bread that left the most profound impression, and we would go back again for that alone (ok, we may need to save for a bit first).
Other amazing dishes that came our way include 'chickpea pancake, spinach and tofu' and 'watercress custard, porridge oats, black garlic, and flowers.' We enjoyed no less than four deserts, including the playful 'jelly baby vegetables' and a unique 'green tomato on granola with sweet woodruff.'
Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel was awarded 2 Hats in the 2019 Good Food Guide Awards, along with Regional Wine List of the Year.
Wickens at The Royal Mail isn't straight up vegan. Please specify vegan at the time of booking.