It was time for another catchup with A and this time my venue selection was at Hercules Morse Kitchen & Bar which is located in South Melbourne. Hercules Morse is the fantastic new venue by Kelly and Ash Cooke, which has been renovated from an old curry serving venue into a stylish and funky one. The name comes from children’s author Lynley Dodd’s series – Hairy Maclary and is the name of an English Mastiff (dog) in the books.
The central focal point is the bar and kitchen which is colourful striped feature. Depending on what you feel like there are high tables with bar stools located at the front and through the walkway of the venue, leading through to a comfortable and cosy back room which houses lower tables and cushion seats. There is also a tree mural and a fireplace to further add warmth. The tables are wooden and the chairs are black which tied in with the black and white circled plates (which I love!). There really was a great first impression!
The menu is created by Brad Cooke (formerly of Chin Chin) and combines a variety of ingredients in a style that is not seen in many places in Melbourne and has a modern twist to the Britannia era. The menu is split into three sections – Snack, Graze and Indulge. The menu is designed to share we are told by the friendly and helpful waiter. Reading the menu you almost want to sample each and every dish. Snacks consists from House Spiced Nuts to Oysters to Fish Fingers and their famous Morse Chip Butty (more on this dish later). Graze dishes are more of your larger dishes and consist of all your main proteins – such as beef, chicken, snapper, scallops, steak tartare and a vegetartian option of warmed barley and mushroom salad – which is a risotto dish. Indulge consists of 4 different desserts – 2 of which are cheese options.
We decided to get one Snack dish and one Graze dish each and share the Warmed Barley and Mushroom Risotto with Enoki and Melted Taleggio dish. A chose the Morse Chip Butty (she loves anything roasted in duck fat – I guess most people do!) as well as the Beef Cigars. I selected the Cheese and Cauliflower Balls as well as the Crispy Skin Snapper. We were seated on bar stools on the high tables near the kitchen so could see into the kitchen as our dishes were being prepared. Our first dish was the Cauliflower and Cheese Balls with Lemon, Rosemary Salt and a Dijon Dipping Mayo. I really loved the combination of the cauliflower and cheese – and I have never seen it done before. The addition of the rosemary salt mixed with the Dijon dipping mayo complemented the dish perfectly.
There was a crisp crunchy coating on the outside with the gooey yuminess on the inside – it really was a great dish! A had the Morse Chip Butty – Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes in a Truffle Buttered Roll and she loved it! It really is a pity I couldn’t try it. It came out in the form of a mini hamburger that was really tall. The potatoes looked crispy and perfectly coloured. For anyone that loves duck fat, potatoes or mini burgers this is a dish for you!
Next up were the larger Graze dishes. The Slow Braised Beef Cheek Cigars and Salsa Verde was visually stunning and vibrant dish and had a taste to match. Once again there was the perfect crispness on the outside to compete with the richness of the beef which paired perfectly with the salsa verde. The Crispy Skin Snapper, Prawn Brandade, Buttered Asparagus and Roquette Pesto was another Graze dish. The snapper was cooked just right with the crispness of the skin added not only texture but additional flavour to the dish. The pesto and asparagus was a great addition to the dish and together every aspect of this dish worked well. I really liked how the snapper was seasoned – so much that you could eat it on its own. A winner of a dish. The last Graze dish was the Warmed Barley and Mushroom Salad with Enoki and Melted Taleggio – which to me was one of their healthier dishes thanks to the barley. Even though the menu calls it a salad it really equated to a mushroom risotto. The barley was cooked well and the Taleggio melted on top added an extra depth to the dish. Yum!
We were both pretty full by this stage but who can say no to dessert right? So we decided to share and A let me decide which dessert to pick – I picked the Deconstructed Apple Pie – Tarte Tatin Apples, Pecan and Cheddar Crumble. This dessert was interesting – as you would expect in an apple pie you have apples and the addition of the pecan was a nice extra – but what threw me was the cheddar crumble. I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of the cheddar crumble and the harshness of this didn’t quite mix so well with me. However hats off for creating a very different apple pie!
There is quite a variety in terms of drinks at Hercules Morse and there are 2 pages of cocktails available as well! They are interestingly named such as XXX Expresso which provides a caffeine hit as well as drinks like Fields of Lavender and Goodie Goodie Gum Drop. Refer to the pictures for what is in each of these drinks.
Hercules Morse is relaxed and intimate restaurant/bar that is great for many occasions – from date night to a casual catch-up with friends. The wait staff are friendly and very helpful in assisting you in dishes and are really knowledgeable about each dish on the menu. It has a great menu which covers a variety of dishes and a fantastic drink menu to match – all in the funky suburb of South Melbourne.
Rating : 4 Pandas
Menu – Refer to http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/files/HM_MENU_2012.pdf for Food Menu. Refer to picture above for Cocktail List.
Atmosphere / Ambience: Intimate, Cosy and Welcoming. Great for all occasions – from date night to a catch-up with friends or even a celebration!
Standout Dish: Crispy Skin Snapper, Prawn Brandade, Buttered Asparagus and Roquette Pesto AND Morse Chip Butty – Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes in a Truffle Buttered Roll
Service: Friendly, Knowledgeable and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
282 Clarendon St, South Melbourne
Tel No: 9690 9402
Monday to Friday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm