Chef Mitch Orr (otherwise known as the “M” in ACME) has a distinctive style of cooking – loose, energetic and original. Formerly behind the stoves at now-closed Duke Bistro and Italian-focused 121 BC, it’s been exciting to see how he’s grown with complete control at ACME. Instead of heavy, traditional pasta dishes, he serves lighter versions in smaller servings. There are no classic sauces, either, his influences are varied and each dish has an element of surprise to it.
The most popular dish on the menu since opening has been the mushroom lasagna, which evolved from a dish at Duke. “It was a melange of sautéed mushrooms, marjoram, rosemary and a slow-cooked egg. It’s grown from that – it’s a really good vegetarian option,” says Orr.
When biting into this dish, first forget everything you know about lasagna. There’s no tomato sauce, no béchamel and no tight layers of pasta like a stack of yoga mats – this version is loose, fresh and messy, with mushrooms and sheep's curd tumbling out of the stack, enoki scattered on top and the colourful addition of rosemary dust to finish.
– 2 sprigs of rosemary
– 1 punnet shiitake mushrooms
– 1 punnet shimeji mushrooms
– 1 punnet nameko mushrooms
– 1 punnet enoki mushrooms
– 1 punnet wood ear mushrooms*
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 eschalots, finely chopped
– 1 tbsp butter, plus another 60g
– 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
– Sea salt
– 150g sheep’s curd (or goat’s curd)
– 3 small squares of fresh pasta sheets per serve, about 80g
50g dried shiitake mushrooms
Pick the leaves off the rosemary and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute. Strain and dry the leaves at a very low temperature in the oven (or dehydrator). Once dry, blitz into a powder in a spice grinder or pound in a mortar and pestle.
Prepare the mushrooms: slice the shiitake, separate the shimeji, trim the nameko and the enoki, tear the wood ear. Keep all the trimmings.
Make a small stock with 500ml of water and the mushroom trimmings and the dried shiitake. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid. Season the stock with soy sauce and mirin (you can also add bonito flakes or shiro dashi if you’re not vegetarian).
In a heavy-based pan, sauté the garlic and eschalots in butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once they’re soft, turn the heat up and add the shiitake, nameko and shimeji. Season with a little salt and sauté for 1 minute. Add approximately 100ml of the mushroom stock and the 60g of butter. Allow the stock and butter to emulsify to form a nice sauce. Turn off the heat.
If the sauce splits, or becomes too thick, add a touch more stock.
At the same time, cook the pasta sheets in plenty of boiling, salted water. When the pasta is al dente, add it to the pan full of mushrooms.
Add the wood ear mushrooms and the sheep’s curd to the pan and toss together. Check the seasoning.
Layer the pasta sheets and mushrooms out onto plates. Drizzle liberally with olive oil; scatter the enokis over the top and dust with the rosemary powder.
Eat that goodness straight away.
*Any seasonal/personal favourite mushrooms can be used instead of the ones suggested.