We welcomed Gary Linnane in his first stint as chef of the day, with some pretty experienced assistance from James Hill and James Healey. First up, a brace of fine terrines which Gary admitted came from Victor Churchill: a rabbit and a duck, in each case topped by a savoury jam on firm but not hard toasts. Light yet flavoursome, and well accompanied by the Wine Society 2002 Tasmanian Riesling. This was a mature developed wine with an attractive nose showing minimal kerosene and a fresh but deep palate. Also on offer was the Lustau fino sherry, predictably tart but rich with briny notes on the nose and palate.

As a main course, Gary had prepared a slow-cooked braise of lamb necks in a North African style with heaps of onion and stock to give richness. Perhaps a bit of African spices and a hit of harissa would have lifted it, but the meat was falling-off-the -bone, and the latter yielded small pieces of marrow, adding greatly to the flavour. Some well-cooked Israeli couscous, nicely slippery and chewy, went well with the lamb, as did a large slice of bright red cooked quince, which would have been better served warm than cold, but still had the mild sweetness and acid to cut the fat in the lamb. Served with it were a 2009 Angulong sangiovese from Orange, well developed with some dry tannins but unlikely to improve; and a 2009 Wynns The Stables cabernet shiraz and mourvedre from Coonawarra, showing typically good fruit, nicely balanced with acid and soft tannins and a keeper for at least a few years.

The main course quality continued onto the cheese, with a classic French beaufort from the Rhones-Alpes region, lovely dark yellow paste with a firm texture and a mildly sweet and nutty taste. The accompanying salad was in theme, with baby spinach leaves, cucumber and tomato pieces dressed with pomegranate seeds and a sprinkling of sumac, although a mild dressing needed a bit of acid to balance. Special mention should be made of the bread, a rye/caraway blend from Iggys which went surprisingly well with the cheese. The accompanying wines were , to sat the least, unusual, comprising a 2007 De Bortoli shiraz/viognier from the Yarra, which showed intense, slightly sweet nose and a similar palate, but finishing rather short; a Camille Saves champagne, ok but going nowhere in the company; and a Lustau amontillado sherry, deep and nutty and the best match of the three with the cheese. The coffee was unidentified, but was probably left over from a previous lunch and showed it, with good balance but stale and lacking life.