The Smith – Knickerbocker Glory

panda 4 rating

A and I were looking for a place where we could have some dessert after dinner and I stumbled across The Smith and its renowned dessert – The Knickerbocker. It was a Friday night and I knew that they would be busy so I called up to see if they would have space for the two of us to have dessert – they were very helpful and said to come and they would find a space for us. How nice of them! So we headed down and literally had the best seats in the house – at the bar counter overlooking the kitchen –we could actually watch as our desserts were being made.

The Smith is located in High Street, Prahran – one of the trendier suburbs in Melbourne and the venue matches. The owner is Scott Borg (former director of Taxi and Circa), and he has created this swanky, sophisticated and fun venue that offers all day dining.

From the outside it looks like a pub, but once you are inside you are welcomed by a fun and casual vibe. To the right is the bar and courtyard and to the right is the main dining area, which travels all along to the back room which is another dining area. Here is where the fantastic open kitchen resides, with the opportunity to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen – best view in the house! The back dining room has high ceilings together with a combination of round, square and communal wooden tables. The fit out is classy, elegant all whilst staying casual and welcoming.

We were just there for desserts so we were given the dessert menu to peruse. Whilst tossing up what we wanted to have for dessert – we could see the other meals being prepared in the kitchen and being sent out to the diners. They looked amazingly delicious! It made us wish that we had come here for dinner as well! The menu is prepared by Michael Lambie (also ex Taxi and Circa). The Smith offers six-course and eight-course tasting menus at $70 and $85.

The menu is split into six sections – starting off with “Oysters” (there are three to choose from), moving onto “Mouthful”, then “Tastes”, followed by “Fish & Meat”, then “Sides” and ending on dessert dubbed “To End.” Mouthful includes morsels of food that ranges from pork croquettes, to tempura king prawns, soft shell crab, tofu and salmon tartare. There are a number of “Tastes” and “Fish & Meat” dishes to select from as well – the variety ensures that there really is a dish for everyone and every dietary requirement. The menu is a combination of many cuisines – from Mexican to Thai to Japanese and even Modern Australian Country.

There were four different desserts to choose from which included The Smith Carrot Cake with citrus cream cheese, Chocolate dulce de elce with blood orange foam and the two desserts we chose to have. What is great about the desserts here are not only do they sound good, but most of them are Gluten-Free, Nut-Free etc. The menu marks down what each dessert is, as well as suggesting what drink it would go well with. There is also a cheese selection if you are a cheese fan.

I ordered the The Smith Knickerbocker Glory (GF, EF, NF) – which was essentially like a trifle – it had layers and layers of sweet goodness. There are layers of macerated sweet tart fruit including pomegranate molasses, berries, strawberries topped with whipped cream, chocolate buttons, jelly squares and chunky bits of honeycomb. There were so many textures and flavours going on and it really was a fun dessert to have. I loved the combination of cream and berries any day so this dessert worked really well for me and was just what I craved and wanted.

A ordered the Raspberry Souffle with White Chocolate Ice Cream (GF) which was mighty impressive when it was placed in front of us. The overflow of the soufflé looked delightful and was topped with icing sugar; to the side was the white chocolate ice cream. The soufflé was literally melt in your mouth and the tanginess worked extremely well in contrast to the sweetness of the white chocolate ice cream. A winner!

Whilst we were eating our desserts we watched as The Smith Carrot cake was being made and boy did it look impressive! There were so many elements that were added – as you watch you think that it would be the last ingredient placed – but wait there’s more – more and more elements added – and the end result: spectacular. The dish was finished with petals, flowers and reminded me of a swan. Definitely wanting to try this out next time!

We also ordered tea to go with our dessert – and I tried the Russian Caravan tea for the first time! I have previously not heard of this flavour and was intrigued to try it out. This tea is a blended oolong, keemun and lapsang souchong tea and has a vibrant and strong aroma to match a nutty, malty and smoky flavouring. I might actually consider purchasing some of my own Russian Caravan tea!

The staff were really helpful and our waiter especially was really friendly! Customer service was really good and the staff looked like they were having a good time.

The Smith is great place be it for a casual catch up dinner or a celebration. The atmosphere is lively, fun and very friendly. The Smith also has two function rooms upstairs, with a separate bar and kitchen. One of the rooms is called “Mr Smith” which is the more masculine version complete with leather seats and can seat up to 40 people. The other room is aptly named “Mrs Smith” – complete with white walls and can seat up to 24 people. There is a wall between the two that can be opened up to create one larger space if needed.

The Smith serves a large variety of food in a venue that is stylish, elegant yet casual and relaxed – the staff are friendly and helpful and the food dishes not only look spectacular but taste great too! What more could you ask for really?

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.thesmithprahran.com.au/the-food/ The drinks menu can be found here – http://www.thesmithprahran.com.au/the-drinks/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Stylish, Casual and Fun. There is an area for dining and an area for drinks, as well as a courtyard. There are also function rooms.
Service: Fantastic – very friendly and helpful!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.thesmithprahran.com.au
213 High St, Prahran
Tel No: 9514 2444

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:30 pm

The Smith on Urbanspoon

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Mugen Ramen – City’s First Tsukemen Ramen

panda 4 rating

I love Ramen so when I heard about Mugen I had to check it out. Mugen speciaiises in Ramen and is owned by Yoshi Kurosawa – who is also the owner of Robot bar which is located directly opposite. Mugen is located in a laneway off Flinders lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

Mugen (meaning infinite) is a schmick looking two-level venue which includes a basement izakaya which has seating and drinks available. At street level you can see into the kitchen as the chefs prepare your meals and there is two bench rows available to sit at. There is a black and blue theme running which adds a touch of elegance and warmth.

Mugen specialises in the Tsukemen style and is the first Tsukemen joints in the city. Tsukemen is a type of deconstructed ramen. It consists of the dipping house-made noodles which are plated separately and are served cold with warm charshu pork, sheet of nori and pickled bamboo shoots. To the side there is a small bowl of pork, chicken and fish sauce into which you put your ramen. The dish is available in two different sizes – 300g and 420g.  The menu has two types of Tsukemen – Wafu and Curry as well as two different types of normal Ramen – Miso and Wafu.

The menu is really interesting and has a comic – or manga as they would call it in Japan – on the back which pokes fun and tells you how to eat the Tsukemen, which I think is a innovative and great style of the menu. In addition to the Ramen, there are smaller dishes available such as Gyoza, Aburi Chasu, Potato Salad, Chips and more. When we went there was also a JAPAS (Japanese Tapas) menu that was coming soon. There were no desserts on the menu at this time – but I really do hope they expand into this as well. There are also a great selection of drinks – beers, sake and liquer– available. The beers include Codeo which is essentially a sweet potato lager – how interesting!

Unfortunately despite loving Ramen the fact that I can’t have any pork dishes, meant that I couldn’t try any of the ramen available. The waitress was very friendly and told me that I could get some Soba noodles with tofu made up – and this would the only vegetarian option available. I was happy to order that ( I do love tofu as well). N ordered the Tsukune and Tebasaki from the small dishes section.

The Tsukune – Japanese Grilled Chicken skewers made from tenderloin thigh and soft bones with Teriyaki sauce and egg yolk on the side to dip. There were four skewers that came out and N loved the flavours and softness to the chicken. The addition of the dipping egg yolk was different and further enhanced the flavour.

The Tebasaki – Japanese deep fried chicken wings. This came served in a stainless steel frying basket and was coated with a glaze of honey and sesame – they were crispy on the outside and juicy and delicious on the inside.

My vegetarian soba noodles with tofu, chilli and salad was a generous serving. The noodles were fresh and silky smooth and cooked perfectly. The dish overall was tasty and despite really wanting a dose of ramen hit the spot.

The vibe at Mugen is fantastic and it is a great place at the basement to enjoy drinks. The food smells delicious and I cannot wait to see what type of dishes will be on their Japas menu. The staff are friendly and really accommodating. Will definitely be back, even though I can’t eat their signature dish!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to above picture
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant and Fun
Service: Friendly, Helpful and VERY accommodating
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mugenramenbar.com/
11 Bligh Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9620 3647

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday:
Lunch
11:30 am to 2:30pm
Dinner
6pm to 11pm
Sunday – Closed

Mensousai Mugen on Urbanspoon

SEZAR – Armenian Hit

panda 4 rating

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halal (1)*NOTE: The meats are all HALAL Certified. You might need to specify that you want the food cooked in a HALAL Manner.

Menu:
Menu at Sezar

It was N’s birthday and I wanted to take him to  somewhere different and to try out a cuisine we haven’t had before – what better way than to try out the newly opened Armenian restaurant Sezar – located right in the heart of Melbourne CBD.

Sezar comes from head chef and co-owner Garen Maskal (also head chef of The Black Toro) and his business partners Aret and Sasoon Arzadian – and is named after his grandmother. Franc Bakkes (ex Ezard) takes the reins in the kitchen and has helped create a menu that exudes a combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean.  Sezar is located in the Melbourne CBD in an alleyway that used to house the Canary Club and Saint Peter’s – there is a graffitied mural which a street art mural of Haik Nahapet and ties in with the mural inside the restaurant of Mount Ararat.

Sezar’s vibe is sophistication and elegance which is demonstrated by its dim lighting, black tables and wooden chair combination. As you entered you are greeted by the mural and the colourful follows the mural wall to the length of the restaurant. The kitchen is located at the end of the bar. There are tables which can seat from two to four people, as well as space at the bar with high stools to sit on.

We are seated at our table by the window and order drinks. Their drinks menu is quite extensive and there is a good selection of cocktails. I order a mocktail which they can come up with on the whim – you just have to specify what type of flavour you want – I wanted something sweet and sour.  The result was exactly what I wanted and was the perfect balance of both flavours.

The menu is split into four sections starting off with Bzdig (small dishes), then Medz (medium dishes), Kove (the side dishes) and ending with Anoush (Dessert). There are around 14 small dishes to choose from which consist of Oysters, Spanner Crab Falafel, Grain Salad, Chicken Wings and Lamb Kebabs. The medium dishes of which there are 6 to choose from – cover all your main meats as well as a veggie dish.  There are 4 side dishes and desserts to choose from as well. Desserts include a Nutella Pide for all you chocolate lovers. The other option if you can’t decide is to have the Djash Ger-Ouyt – which is the Dinner Party Banquet which includes Dessert for $65 per person. We decided to do the banquet and let the chef pick the dishes. They ask you what dietary requirements you have and tailor this to suit your needs.

The first dish that we received was the Hervey Bay Scallops with Cauliflower, Cumin and Zaatar. This dish came served on the scallop shell itself on a black plate. The scallop was perfectly grilled – tender and sweet, with a base of creamy cauliflower puree and topped with the cumin and zaatar which was a delicious accompaniment and a great way to start the menu.

Our next dish was the Boreg – Spinach, Feta Cheese and Aleppo Mayo. The Boreq came plated up with the Aleppo may in a separate sauce dish. I loved this dish – the outside of the Boreg was flakey, buttery and crispy which made a loud crunch as you bit into it. The filling was to die for – there was an abundance of spinach mixed together with the creaminess and saltyiness of the fetta – but the balance and mix was just right. The Aleppo mayo was also really fantastic! I loved the taste of the spice and tang together, and paired with the boreg – it was just simply heaven! Another must try dish.

Next up was the Cured Ocean Trout – Fennel, Sumac and Almond Cream. The dish was visually pleasing with the almond cream spread out at the base of the place and the brightly coloured cured trout placed in strips on top, and finished with the fennel and sumac. The trout is cured with salt, cardamom, cumin and black seasame and was soft and wholesome. The fennel and sumac added the crunch of texture and the strong flavour paired with the almond cream was a really good addition to the cured trout. It was yet again another great dish.

Our next course was the BBQ Shitake Mushroom on a skewer – with Haloumi and Grape Leaf Wraps. The skewers came with the glistening mushrooms between the salty haloumi and slices of red onion, served with grape leaves on the side. This dish was good but not as spectacular as the other dishes. The combination of the mushroom and haloumi wrapped in the grape leaf was a fun and interesting dish that was flavoured well.

The final of the small dishes was the Lamb Kebab – Baby Gem Lettuce, Sour Cherry Sauce. I really enjoyed this dish. We were told to wrap the kebab in the lettuce and dip into the cherry sauce. The lamb was spicy, moist and tender. I have never had my lamb with a cherry sauce before – but this combination I felt was perfectly suited to the lamb. The lettuce added an extra dimension of crunch.

We were getting quite full with all the small dishes, but had the main big sized dish up next. For this we were given the Braised Beef Cheek with Tomato, Pea and Steamed Rice. You could smell the aromas of the dish as it was placed on the table and there was a brightness and freshness to the dish – the accented green against the savoury brown. The beef was really well cooked and was literally melt in your mouth. The sauce was a nice addition although I thought it could have used with a little more flavour (salt) and spice.

To finish the meal we were given two desserts – Baklava with Crispy Filo, Walnut Ice Cream and Caramel as well as the Semolina Cake with Almond Crumble and Crème Fraiche. Both dishes were beautifully presented – the semolina against the black backdrop of the plate and the baklava against a white and pink backdrop of the plate.

The Baklava was a great modern take to what you would usually expect. The crispy and sweet filo pastry encompassed the quenelle of beautifully creamy walnut ice cream and was finished with the drizzle of sticky caramel and topped with walnuts and lilac flowers. The pastry was once again to die for and the combination of the ice cream, nuts and caramel made for a really great dish!

The Semolina Cake was a dense piece of almond flavoured cake which I found in some parts to be quite dry, placed with a dollop of crème fraice and finished with caramelised almond bits and colourful flowers. Having just come back from Turkey and eating their version of the semolina cake I guess I was expecting similar flavours to what I had there – but this was different. It still was a really good dish with all the right flavours and textures.

The banquet is a great way to experience not only a variety of dishes but a difference of flavours and textures. I think the mix of the small dishes covered a great range and the fact that we were given two desserts was an added bonus. Sezar is a great place for a relaxed yet classy dinner where the staff are helpful and friendly, as well has having a colourful and extensive drinks list. Lookout for cocktail bar that will be opened in the near future which is located just upstairs of Sezar.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to menu above or link here http://sezar.com.au/SezarMenu.pdf. There are small, medium, sides and desserts to choose from. You can also have a Dinner Party banquet (Djash Ger-Ouyt) for $65 pp which includes a couple of small dishes, a medium dish and desserts.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Classy and Relaxed. Great for date night or a special occasion
Standout Dish: Hervey Bay Scallops with Cauliflower, Cumin and Zaatar AND Lamb Kebab – Baby Gem Lettuce, Sour Cherry Sauce
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Helpful and Attentive. Our waitress was informative and knew a lot about the dishes when asked.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://sezar.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://sezar.com.au/
6 Melbourne Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 9882

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Thursday and Friday: Noon till 5:00pm
Dinner
Monday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late

Sezar on Urbanspoon

Code Black Coffee – Black Elegance

panda 4.5 rating

N & I headed to Code Black Coffee on a Saturday for brunch. Code Black Coffee is one of the latest cafes to open up in the Brunswick area and is located off Sydney Road, behind Barkly Square shopping centre. Code Black Coffee is not only a cafe but a roasting house as well – with roasting equipment present on site.

Code Black Coffee comes to you thanks to Joseph Haddad who is the man behind the Cafenatics stores that can be found all around the Melbourne CBD.  The chef behind the deliciously flavoured menu is Laura Neville and makes you want to try out all of the dishes.

Code Black Coffee exudes elegance and class yet staying casual and welcoming from the moment you step inside. As the name suggests, the main colour theme is black together with an industrial metallic and stone feel.  When you walk inside the main feature you are greeted with is the large counter and barista station which in the centre of the room, which creates a division of the rooms. To the left of the counter there are tables for groups and to the right are smaller tables enough for couples or singles. As you keep walking past the kitchen – which has a glass window that allows you to peek in and see the chefs creating food magic – there are booths for a more private catch up.

As the name suggests there is a main focus on coffee and it sure doesn’t disappoint. There is a variety of coffees available – both black and milk. Code Black Coffee roasts high grade beans from international farms and growers, and there is a Code Black seasonal blend, as well as a rotating single origin which is roasted in house, signature blends and decaffeinated coffee. These different varieties of coffee can also be bought over the counter as well and staff are willing to assist to so that you walk away with the perfect coffee.

N got a house-blend expresso and I got the house-blend latte. I thoroughly enjoyed my latte with its nutty and velvety smooth flavours. The expresso comes with additional water which I think is thoughtful in order to modify the coffee if need be. Later on we also got a flat white which was just as delicious and creamy. Definitely one of the better coffees that I have tasted – and I do want to go back and try out some of their other types of beans.

Moving onto the food options – where do I start. There are plenty of dishes for people who are vegetarian, gluten free or require vegan food – which I think is really fantastic. The menu covers a variety of flavours and dishes – there is a baked egg dish that comes with polenta fingers, belgian waffles and even two different burgers – one veggie one and one meaty one. There are also a selection of Baker goods – such as breads, crossiants, toasties, Salads and Sandwiches. There is also a menu for the little peeps (as the menu states) – consisting of smaller sized dishes. I was struggling to pick a dish to have and in the end decided to try out the fritters (after all I do have a thing for fritters =p)

The fritters at Code Black Coffee had ingredients that I haven’t usually seen in a fritter dish – Broccoli, Almond & Chia Fritters with Grilled Corn Salsa, Coriander, Avocado & a Poached Egg. When the dish came out it was beautifully presented on Japanese style plates – with the fritters as a base, topped with the avocado and poached egg, with the corn salsa and coriander surrounding the elements. The fritters were absolutely delicious! They were full of broccoli, almond and chia and were flavoursome. You don’t usually think of this combination but it really did work – and coupled with the avovado and corn – there really was a party of flavours that happen in your mouth. I loved this dish!

There is also a selection of cakes and pastries which look fresh and tasty which are displayed at the front counter. Code Black Coffee is wonderful place that exudes class and style and the menu is one of my favourite cafe menu’s that I have come across – there are so many dishes that I want to come back and try – its a shame you can only do one dish a visit =p I will definitely be back to visit and try out as many dishes as I can.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://codeblackcoffee.com.au/wp-content/themes/codeblackcoffee/inc/CODE%20BLACK_MENU_18_05_13_1_0.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Classy and Stylish yet welcoming and engaging.
Standout Dish: Broccoli, Almond & Chia Fritters with Grilled Corn Salsa, Coriander, Avocado & a Poached Egg
Service: Friendly and Knowledgable – they really do know their stuff about coffee and are always ready to help.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
codeblackcoffee.com.au
15-17 Weston Street, Brunswick
Tel No: 9388 0005

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7:00am – 5:00pm

Code Black Coffee on Urbanspoon

Hihou – Great New Addition to the Melbourne Night Scene

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My friends and I headed to dinner at Hihou on a Friday night. Hihou, which means secret treasure, is a newly opened classy Japanese bar at the top end of Spring Street, which overlooks Treasury Gardens. It is located on top of Nama Nama – which is another Japanese restaurant which is known for really great Japanese dishes and especially it’s Bento Boxes.

Hihou comes to you from the owner of Izakaya Den – Simon Denton, and replaces what used to be the old split-level restaurant – Verge. Hihou is known for its variety of drinks and cocktails, as well as for its delicious Japanese dishes – the kitchen is open till midnight! In keeping with its name – there is a “secret” entrance to get into the venue. I actually had to go into Nama Nama and ask how I get into Hihou. There is heavy black door and a buzzer that you need to ring to be let in.

Hihou has a sense of elegance from the moment you walk in. The bar is dimly lit and the centrepiece is in the form of a communal black marble table, which has overhanging wooden storage (that stores some of the many drink on offer) which doubles as a lighting fixture. There are accents of light along the tables, in the form of multi coloured candles. The view from the communal tables and the other tables is beautiful – you can look into Treasury Gardens, thru the glass walls that Hihou has. The other main feature is the bar, which is lit up in accents behind the bar and houses various bottles of liquor all displayed in timber racks which add a nice effect to the entire venue. Adding to the splashes of colour at the bar are fruits that could be used in the drinks. Aside from this main dining area, Hihou has a lounge area – where guests in true Japanese style are encouraged to take their shoes up and get comfy on the large ottomans. This place is really full of surprises.

The drinks menu is exemplary – consisting of  hot shochu (a Japanese liquor similar to vodka), sake, plum wine, seasonal fruit ‘surprise’ cocktails, Japanese beers and whiskey. The drinks come with orb shaped ice – so round and big (as you can see in the picture above – which adds an essence of difference and I think is super cool. My mock-tail I got which had mango & passion fruit was delicious and was one of the surprise flavours.

We are seated on the end of the communal table (there were 5 of us on this night) and we were given the oshibori treatment – warm hot towels – followed by water, menus and utensils. Once we had time to look at the menu we selected a few dishes to share. We ordered the ‘Cuban’ Spicy Tuna Cigar, Kingfish Ceviche, Yuzu Kosho, Seaweed Crystal and Konbu Cured Snapper Sashimi, Spring onion purée, Crispy Wantan to start. The Spicy Tuna Cigars were tasty and the casing on the outside crisp and crunchy, just the kind of texture you would want when you bite into one of these. They were made perfectly and really did resemble a cuban cigar. The Spicy Tuna filling was fresh and flavoursome – a mix of Japanese flavours such as ginger together with a punchy freshness. The Kingfish Ceviche was another very fresh looking and tasting dish, and the serving size I thought was quite generous. The Cured Snapper Sashimi with the Spring Onion Puree was an interesting combination, but I must say that it worked – yum! For our “main” dishes we ordered Buckwheat Crepes –Tofu, Pickled Mushroom andLeek – for me and the Duck Breast, Pickled Mushroom and Leek for the others. They also ordered the Hihou Dog – Seasame Brioche, Arabiki Pork Sausage,Picked Cabbage (the most anticipated dish of the night).
The buckwheat pancake dish wasn’t one of my favourites but having said that I was a fan of the buckwheat pancakes. The dish came out with each separate element that you build to make your finished dish. I like this aspect of a dish. The rest of my friends loved the duck breast pancakes and I guess the duck is the clear winner out of the tofu and the duck. The Tofu was nicely sauteed and was quite tasty, but as a whole there was something more that I needed. Everyone loved the Hihou Dog and it was nicely sized as well. The sausage they said was cooked perfectly and combined with the pickled cabbage added the extra zing.

The atmosphere is fantastic here especially on this Friday night – it is comfortable, the service is friendly and attentive but not in your face. It really is a place that once you come to you don’t want to leave. The drinks are interesting and varied which will keep things interesting. This place definitely has a Japanese vibe to it and it does feel like a bit of Japan in Melbourne.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Dinner Menu – http://hihou.com.au/pdf/evening.pdf. There is also a Special Japanese set lunch, $35 plus specials that can be found at http://hihou.com.au/pdf/lunch.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant yet relaxing and comfortable. Great for a first date night as it has a great view overlooking the Treasury Gardens.
Standout Dish: ‘Cuban’ Spicy Tuna Cigar / Hihou Dog
Service: Friendly, Polite and Attentive
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://hihou.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://hihou.com.au/
First Floor
1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 5465

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Friday: 11:30am-2:30pm
Evenings
Monday to Saturday: 5pm-1am

Hihou on Urbanspoon

The Press Club – Food with a Greek Twist

panda 4 rating
Drinks at Press Club Butter with Cod Flavoured Butter Peas, Pickled Mushroom, Marouli Tomato, Olive, Cucumber Salmon, Fosolakia, Skordalia Chicken, Corn, Kritharaki Fruits, Sorbet, Ice Cream Karythopita, Creme Fraiche, Cherry

The Press Club is a two-hatted restaurant owned by chef and restaurateur George Colombaris. The Press Club showcases Colombaris’ Greek heritage together with modern Australian dishes, and is one of the most popular venues in Melbourne.

Ever since I started to watch Masterchef and there was a challenge where the contestants had to cook at The Press Club, I wanted to try out the Degustation menu with the distinctive Aphrodite dessert. However, I never got around to visiting and the dessert no longer exists, yet I still had to make to this famous venue. Previously, I had only come here late one night for a dessert fix and found the desserts were absolutely delectable, so high expectations were set for the food.

The Press Club is a classy yet welcoming place – there are dark floors, a wooden ceiling which have dangling light globes and beautiful textured wallpaper. Tables are decked out with a white table cloth and have a spot of colour in the form of an orange water glass (which I loved!), and are spaced out perfectly and is what adds the casualness to the place. The staff are friendly, passionate and knowledgeable and make the place even warmer. The kitchen is an open style theatre and allows diners to look at the chefs preparing meals. Just at the front of the open kitchen is a marble table which serves as a “Chef’s Table,” where diners can see the chefs plating up dishes right in front of them. The restaurant exudes elegance and class.

My friends and I arrived for a lunchtime meal and had three options menuwise to select from – Mini Symposium Degustation, The Kerasma or the Business Lunch. The Mini Symposium Degustation was 6 courses that each person on the table would get, The Kerasma was the ” To Treat and To Share” menu, where the entire table would have a selection of Tastes, Small, Main and Dessert dishes to share and lastly, the Business Lunch where you could either select from 2 or 3 courses. We decided to do the Business Lunch and I opted for the 3 courses.

The meal started off with complimentary bread that came with house-made salted cod roe butter. There were two different types of bread available – olive and plain. I wasn’t a massive fan of the salted cod roe butter (due to not being a massive fan of cod), however the rest of the table did enjoy it and said it complimented the breads, and was especially suited to the olive bread. The butter itself was airy, light and fluffy and the texture was perfect. For my first course I had the Peas, Pickled Mushroom, Marouli which I thought was a very fresh dish made from the freshest of ingredients. The ingredients worked well together and had a great after taste as well – clean and delicious. I would have liked more of the avocado to be added, but that’s just being picky.

My next dish was Salmon, Fosolakia, Skordalia. Fosolakia is the Greek for beans and Skordalia is a thick puree made of crushed garlic with a thick base such as potatoes etc. The Salmon was the perfect pink colouring and cooked to perfection with the right amount of crispness in the skin. Matched together with the beans and the puree sauce – it made for a great combination and was my favourite dish of the day. The fish was juicy and flavoursome and the beans provided the texture in the form a great crunch.

For dessert I had the Karythopita, Creme Fraiche, Cherry – which was a de-constructed cheesecake / walnut cake. This dish was good but not great. The crumble was fresh and tasted great. The main cheesecake / walnut cake part was nice and had great texture and flavour, but as a whole I thought this dish could have been a whole lot better. My friend had the Fruits and Sorbet Ice cream – three different house-made flavours of sorbet with fresh fruit. The flavours were deceiving and not what you would expect from the colours that you see. Worth trying!

Overall the food and ambience of The Press Club is fantastic and the staff are friendly and attentive. You can fire off any questions you have about the menu or drinks and they will tell you the answers, and if they don’t know it they wouldn’t hesitate to go and find out. Perfect service! The quality of the food is fantastic and you can tell that real care and love has been put into every dish.

The Press Club has announced on its site that it will be closing in March 2013 and a complete refurbishment of this space will welcome Gazi’, an informal restaurant inspired by the street food of Athens. For more information please visit their website – http://www.thepressclub.com.au/newsreviews.html

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu –There are many menus to select from – Lunch menu (http://www.thepressclub.com.au/lunchmenu.html) – which consists of the Keresma, Business Lunch and Mini Symposium Degustation Menus, Dinner Menus (http://www.thepressclub.com.au/dinnermenu.html) – which is the Symposium Degustation where you can select from either 5 or 8 courses
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant and Inviting
Standout Dish: Salmon, Fosolakia, Skordalia. Fosolakia
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Attentive and Knowledgeable. Outsanding service!
Online Booking: Yes and Reservations are Essential – via http://www.thepressclub.com.au/bookings.html
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.thepressclub.com.au/index.html
72 Flinders St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9677 9677

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday – Sunday: 12pm to 3pm
Dinner
Monday – Sunday: 6pm to 10pm

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