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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Hercules Morse Kitchen and Bar – Intimate, Relaxed and Great Food!

panda 4 rating

Cocktail List:
Cocktail List at Hercules Morse Kitchen and Ba      More Drinks at Hercules Morse Kitchen and Ba

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
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/files/HM_MENU_2012.pdf for Food Menu. Refer to picture above for Cocktail List.
Fullness: 100%
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:
http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/
282 Clarendon St, South Melbourne
Tel No: 9690 9402

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm

Hercules Morse Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon