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Rooftop at QT Melbourne Secret Garden Is Amazing

Andy Harmer and the QT Melbourne team are hitting some serious home runs with their new Secret Garden at Rooftop at QT . Perched high above the city hustle and nestled behind the iconic Rooftop at QT, QT Melbourne’s rooftop garden was a space unbeknown to Melbournians up until now. I can imagined the well healed and corporates booking up the Secret Garden with bespoke functions. A stunning sensory experience. Is this the hottest destination in Melbourne right now?

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My impressions of this evening make me want to go into superlative overdrive. It was a stunning event.

A private garden cultivated by Executive Chef Andy Harmer has been impressively re-designed and recently unveiled as a hidden Secret Garden. Inspired by time spent at international restaurants and acclaimed Australian venues, Harmer has redesigned the hotel’s rooftop garden into an intimate, industrial green space which demonstrates QT’s commitment to sustainability.

The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to experience the Secret Garden, an event hosted by Andy Harmer and the QT Melbourne team, as well as foodie and PR identity Hilary McNevin.

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Four Pillars Gin and Tonic featuring the Fruit Salad Sage from the Secret Garden. The QT Melbourne team access the Secret Garden for their cocktails. Kudos for the bar set up and charming modern table setting.

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Lee Davey, General Manager at QT Melbourne is a hospitality icon and bringing exciting developments to QT Melbourne. So much going on!

Growing up in the English countryside, Harmer’s passion for food commenced from a young age as he watched with fascination as his parents attended to their kitchen garden and created family meals using only the freshest season, local produce with minimal intervention.

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 An intimate dinner at the new Secret Garden at Rooftop at QT. Cat Spanti (Digital Communications Coordinator, QV Melbourne), Kate Stevenson from 3AW and A Moveable Feast, Hilary McNevin (foodie and PR identity Turnip Media) and friend Max.

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Andy Harmer pointing to highlights of the Secret Garden. The menu for the evening reflected elements from the Secret Garden. 

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Andy Harmer cooked us a stunning intimate dinner with the Big Green Egg BBQ. A ceramic bbq that holds impressive heat.

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Jessica Fornito National Communications Manager of QT Hotels and Resorts flew from Sydney and was a charming host also revealing plans for the Secret Garden.  

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The atmosphere at new Secret Garden at Rooftop at QT is unique in Melbourne. I was "blown away".

This is a serious garden. For journos writing about restaurant gardens around Melbourne this is a serious addition. Every day, Harmer and the team at QT Melbourne pick a selection of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit from the garden, using freshly picked produce in dishes on the Pascale Bar and Grill menu, as garnishes in an assortment of handcrafted cocktails, and woven into the mouth-watering dessert selection.

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Hilary McNevin hosted an interactive Q&A session with Andy Harmer. The Secret Garden is a passion and labour of love for Andy. He is hands on and loves tending and developing the garden.

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Not only was the food amazing but there was impressive theatre involved. Hilary McNevin and Dani Valent (best-selling author and journalist) taking pics.

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Quail eggs and potatoes on the Big Green Egg BBQ.

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Andy Harmer one of the great chefs of Melbourne and internationally and his curation and execution of the dinner was next level.

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Techniques I've never seen on a BBQ. 

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Rustic flavours on the first course of Hay Baked Potatoes, fermented truffle and quail egg. A creamy flavoursome dish with smokey nuances of BBQ and a texture triumph. I was surprised we received generous 5 of these creations.

Enjoyed with 2015 Equipo Navazos La Bota 77 Florpower Palomino Fino, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain.

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Smoked tomato, kingfish, milk skin, broad beans was a delicate intricate dish with a brilliant flavour combination. The addition of broth poured at the table lifted the dish to another level. I admit I do love theatre in a dining experience.

Paired with 2014 Joh Jos Plum Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett Riesling, Mosel Germany.

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Toasty nuances of this NV Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle Extra Brut Champagne to pair with the food was an example of the Sommelier prowess here. A surprising but rewarding match with the marron.

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For me, a great marron dish is the signature of Australia. Andy Harmer hit the high notes with BBQ Marron, seaweed butter emulsion, pickled karkalla, saltbush. Perfectly cooked and presented marron was a highlight but also rave reports about the creamy seaweed butter emulsion and the saltbush crunch and salty hit to accompaniment. The pickled karkalla also combined wonderfully for which I would describe as a celebration of Australian ingredients and produce. 

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Another wine highlight was the 2013 Leeuwin Estate "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River WA. An elegant red with blackcurrant earthy characteristics.

Blackmore Beef Brisket, garlic, yoghurt, watercress was a dish to remember.

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After the marron dish I thought I'd reached the peak of our dining experience. But we found it hard to determine which was the best dish. Best brisket I've ever tasted. Andy revealed the brisket had been slow cooked for hours then finished on the Big Green Egg. Top notch tender flavoursome meat with perfect caramelisation. Brisket is my favourite BBQ meat and I find it challenging to cook at home to break down the fat and get desirable caramelisation. Andy is the master.

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The atmosphere at night is simply stunning.

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Breaking out the NV Dolin Chambéryzette, Chambery France. Vermouth and wild strawberry juice!

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Strawberry and Elderflower Cheesecake was a deconstructed style dessert with a sense of theatre to get the frozen touch from a snow in liquid nitrogen. A clever dessert.

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The fresh produce grown on the rooftop garden ranges from unique native flavours to relatively unheard of plants more delicate in flavour, including:

*Fruit Salad Sage; soft textured, large leaf sage with a fruity aroma known for its intoxicating fragrance and full of sweet nectar.

*Karkalla; this native succulent adds a welcome salty hit and juicy crunch to fish dishes and salads.

*Native River Mint; a smaller, more delicate relative of more well-known mints like peppermint and spearmint.

*Blue Lily Pilly; found around the eastern Australian rainforest regions, produces palatable blue-purple berries that are crunchy and light with a mild sweetness. Not only a self-sufficient produce source, but a hidden gem for those looking to host a unique event with a QT twist, the Secret Garden can be transformed into the ultimate event location, with exclusive event packages now available for 10-25 guests:

*Chef’s Table

An exclusive experience for up to 10 guests with Executive Chef Andy Harmer creating a personalised menu with matching wine, cocktails and spirits. Highlights from the menu include; Asparagus, Truffle & Stracciatella, BBQ Marron with Secret Garden Sorrell and Wagyu Tongue dressing and Rose Veal with almond gazpacho and Secret Garden Raddish. Prices variable depending on package selection.

*Camp Fire  This interactive 2-hour experience includes your own private QT Chef and a selection of shared dishes, complete with your own private bar. From $100 per person, up to 25 guests. “This is an exciting progression for QT Melbourne,” said Harmer. “Both working with the incredible produce we have available on the rooftop garden, and now being able to open that space to the public and have them experience it in such an intimate and educational way is something we’re really proud of.”

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One last drop before we go. An amazing evening. Thanks to Andy Harmer, Lee Davey, Cat Spanti, Jessica Fornito, Michael Stamboulidis and QT Melbourne team, along with Hilary McNevin. Highly recommended!