A Happy Monday Dear Readers! I hope you all had a good weekend.Yesterday while I was breakfasting Mr NQN shouted out to me "You're in The Age newspaper!". It was an article where they discussed how some restaurateurs don't like food bloggers taking photos. It was an interesting article but I just thought that it was a bit of a shame that they focused on very rare negative experiences whereas I've mostly had positive experiences. Out of the 550 plus dining out experiences for NQN, only 2 places have ever asked me not to take photos. The negativity is not a pattern or widespread-thankfully ;) And my how things have definitely changed...
I hesitated. "With The Press Club, will they be ok with photos? George Colombaris is very anti food blogger so I just want to make sure they'll be ok." I ask Tourism Victoria when they ask me whether Mr NQN and I would like to dine at The Press Club Restaurant and Bar. It was apparently not a problem at all - phew!
The chef's table
We take in the room. It's very modern with specially commissioned orange Kosta Boda water glasses and a chef's table at the front in which diners book a spot and enjoy a bird's eye view of the open kitchen (and chefs will send you out a few morsels to try too ;) ). There are dark browns everywhere and expensive flower arrangements.
Kalamata and wild olives in olive oil from Crete and Cypriot black salt
We start off with some kalamata and wild olives in some olive oil from Crete served with a Cypriot black rock salt with an olive and sourdough bread. I try these and they're good but I am saving room for the entrees and mains (trust me, we have the lamb coming ;) ).
Chicken - pastelaki of its wings, kritharaki, mytzithra snow $23.90
We start with some meatballs of chicken made from deboned chicken wings served with a rice shaped pasta like orzo. This is served with a sheep and goat's milk cheese which is similar to a reggiano (the "snow"). It's delicious, the soft chicken morsels fried on one side with one of my favourite types of pasta and just the right amount of mytzithra "snow".
Prawns - jamon, zomos. nashi pear, parsnip, revithia $32.90
Mr NQN likes this multi part dish. They are pan fried prawns with cubes of consommé and serrano ham jelly on a bed of jamon serrano. It's served with a confit of parsnip and finely sliced salsify (a vegetable often called poor man's asparagus). If you were trying to decipher the menu as I was the zomos is the jelly and the revithia is the jamon. There are also little dots of golden raisin puree. The dish, even though it had many seemingly disparate parts and textures, all worked well together.
Lamb - 'neck', miso mousaka $45.90
Not ordinarily on the lunch menu we were lucky enough to try the signature dish in the same incarnation as it appears on the dinner menu. It's a slow cooked lamb neck which is cooked for 16 hours. It's topped with dehydrated feta and a saffron and shallot puree and accompanied with fermented garlic, fried sweetbreads (pancreas) and a miso moussaka eggplant. And god it is good. The lamb is incredibly soft and the perfect accompaniment to the layered miso eggplant. The fermented garlic has an almost mushroomy aroma to it and is slightly tough to cut and the fried sweetbreads are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The only element that I don't go for is the sauce and I prefer the lamb without it.
Mr NQN ordered a glass of the Golden Ball Beechworth 2006 "Gallice" wine Cabernet Merlot $21
Pig - Bangalow pork, baklava, loin, belly, apple horiatiki $46.90
I try the pork which comes in three different parts - the loin, belly and as a baklava. Bangalow pork is a particularly moist and fatty pork. The loin is braised in mountain tea with pistachio and golden raisins the pork bell is grilled and the pork shoulder is combined with a baklava. It comes with a star anise and carrot jus and the whole plate is finished with a jus gras (juices from roast chicken). The pork baklava is interesting with super soft meat much like a rillette and not many nuts and no filo pastry so it's entirely different in concept from the delectable pork belly baklava we had at Perama. The pork belly of course is my favourite cut, easily sliced and oh so jellied and soft. The loin is moist and tender and it topped and the mountain tea adds a hard to place mysteriousness. The apple horiaktiki is their version of a thinly sliced apple salad which gives it sweetness and refreshment.
Sweet corn - kalaboki charred, herbed yoghurt cheese, almonds $9.50
The sweet corn comes off the cob with finely sliced red onion, toasted almonds and with a herbed labne cheese rolled in a mix of parsley, chives and dill with dill being the predominant herb. It's a good combination and the salad has sweetnesss, crunchiness and creaminess.
Potatoes - crispy patates, patzari, feta $9.50
The hand cut potatoes are lightly crunchy on the outside and soft, moist and fluffy on the inside. It is served with a smooth and vividly shaded beetroot and feta dip.
Aphrodite - white chocolate mousse, cherries, roses, soil, scent $18.90
I was too stuffed to contemplate dessert (I know, shame on me :( ) but luckily Mr NQN could fit it in. The Aphrodite is multi part dessert starting with a white chocolate mousse with a liquid rose and raspberry centre. This sits on a bed of baked chocolate biscuit crumbled "soil" and a single maraschino like cherry. And before we know it our waitress sprays the black art deco style atomiser and a cloud of rosewater envelops us although it is more a wet than a misty dispersal. That's the scent part. The mousse is lovely and light and the centre oozes out slowly but surely. The jellies and tart frozen berries give the sweet mousse a nice counterpoint. The soil is rich and perhaps a bit overly generous in the portions as the strong dark chocolate can overwhelm the rest of the dessert.
We roll out of there satisfied and stuffed to the gills and smelling like rosewater!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you think that photos are important on a food blog?
NQN and Mr NQN dined at The Press Club as a guest of Tourism Victoria
The Press Club Restaurant & Bar
72 Flinders St, Melbourne, Victoria
Tel: +61 (03) 9677 9677
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner