One day during of my stay in Melbourne I had lunch with my friend @daggyvamp, a vampire fiction writer who has just added erotic fiction to her repertoire. Needless to say the conversation was scintillating and anything but ordinary. It's definitely a case of conversation competing with food.
Circa at The Prince Hotel is a special occasion restaurant. There is a modern menu, good service and sleek decor. The decor is minimalist with smooth lines, plenty of natural light and smooth, tactile textures in the finishings and plates. Brisbane born Head Chef Ashly Hicks is in the kitchen.
As we only have two hours until I have to fly back to Sydney we ask if it is possible to have the six course chef's selection and thankfully it is not a problem at all. The six courses are priced at $80 without wine or $140 with wine matches. There's also an express "In N' Out" 2 or 3 course lunch for $35 or $45 with a glass of wine.
The two amuse bouche comes out first and the first bite is a duck liver parfait with smoky beetroot which is a mouthful of rich, creamy smoky goodness. This is followed with a snapper brandade flavoured with dill and encased in a ruggedly textured tempura batter. On top is a dusting of onion salt. They disappear in a flash into our hungry mouths.
QLD spanner crab w. crayfish emulsion + sorrel
The next course is a colourful and prettily perfect Queensland spanner crab with a crayfish emulsion, lemonade fruit, coriander oil and decorated with fennel and coriander flowers. It's a dish that showcases the rich flavour of the spanner crab and enhances it while every few bites or so gives you a pop of aniseed from the fennel flowers.
Crayfish with summer leek, chervil + truffle
The menu changes slightly according to the produce available and the crayfish is actually Southern Rock Lobster with John Dory, all buttery subtle textures. There is summer leek or spring onion, slices of black truffle and chervil oil that all play support to the well cooked seafood.
Roasted duck w. kohlrabi, lovage + green plum
Narelle in particular likes the way that the rich roasted duck contrasts against the bitter, silky almost translucent turnip puree and the raddichio leaves and tart green plums. There is also a half turnip coated in lovage powder on the side.
*Robbins Island Wagyu w. burnt onions + truffle mustard *
This is my favourite savoury course. There are four slices of perfectly cooked Robbins Island wagyu. The cattle graze from Tasmania onto Robbins Island which is a privately owned island. The flavour of the succulent 7+ marbled beef is rich and pairing it with the burnt onions, truffled mustard and slightly sweet onion powder is a great combination.
Pyengana aged cheddar w. carrot + brioche
This is a cheese course presented quite differently. The thin perfect slices of Pyengana aged cheddar rest on a bed of spicy carrot marmalade given gingery hot pep from brown mustard seeds. There are buttered thyme brioche crumbs and eating everything together reminds me of a deconstructed cheesecake or at least a very intensely flavoured one. It is a little difficult to eat elegantly with a fork and knife though.
Single origin chocolate mousse w. strawberry + toasted meringue
The dessert is another highlight, the sweetness of the chocolate contrasting beautifully with the tartness of the strawberries and freeze dried raspberries. There are vanilla and chocolate shortbread crumbs to give it crunch and richness. If there is something that will compete with erotic fiction as a conversation point, it's this.
So tell me Dear Reader, which one of your friends has the most interesting job? And would you eat out more at lunch if a restaurant had a prix fixe or express menu?
NQN dined as a guest of The Prince
Circa At The Prince
2 Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182
Phone:(03) 9536 1122