When you venture a good 20km away from the nest in order to satisfy your weekend brunch cravings – you are really hoping for something special. The destination of choice for this Chom adventure was none other than Duchess of Spotswood – in Spotswood Victoria. It saddens me deeply that I have known about this eating premises for some time and have only just visited it for the first time now.
Consistently mentioned, regularly blogged and continually awarded as one of Melbourne’s finest cafes and I just never pulled my finger out far enough to venture over to this side of town. Label me lazy and truthfully I would not argue. With the amount of media and direction that this little beauty has received, I should have dined here long ago. Have no fear The Chommery will make up for lost time.
Kings Woodcock – scrambled eggs with green tomato chutney served with pork, chilli and fennel sausages ($17.50). While I felt this breakfast option was the least creative of the range of dishes we ordered, the flavours did not disappoint. Beautiful buttery eggs with little snags are a safe bet for the less adventurous.
The Duchess of Pork – Crispy pig’s jowl with fried eggs, rich truffle sauce and sourdough toast ($18.50). From the amount of praise I have heard about this dish I am glad to finally be able to validate them. This was seriously something to write home about, or in this case write online about. A thick, generous piece of piggy perfectly moist in it’s own juices and truffle sauce complemented by soft, perfectly cooked fried eggs. A winner every day of the week.
The Clam SCRAM – scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, Cloudy Bay clams and spanner crab ($21.50). While some of the team claimed this to be ‘too fishy’, I absolutely loved it. The portion size is not massive however, the richness of the eggs combined with the protein from the sea dwellers made for a surprisingly heavy option. Note; only for the FFC (fish friendly chommers).
Idle Tongues – Seared ox tongue with marinated char-grilled zucchini, deep-fried zucchini flowers and poached eggs ($19.50). A truly creative choice. Even if you exclude the delicious taste, just the range of items included scores points to the dish. Only in Spotswood will you find a tempura-like vegetable and melt in your mouth ox tongue lying next to some poached eggs.
The Prince of Wales – House smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, fennel and horseradish yoghurt, poached eggs and brioche ($19.50). I bet you I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t expecting a superbly poached fillet of salmon instead of the normal mingy strip or two of packeted nonsense. I want to give too many of the dishes we chommed as the ‘Dish of the Day’! This one is certainly fighting hard for a spot. You will be seriously hard pressed to find a nicer piece of fish even in some of your top restaurants. A great order.
Crumbed lamb’s brains with poached eggs and sourdough toast. If you are thinking gross, you can stop right now, thank you very much. These rocked all our socks off. The has to take the prize as dish of the chom. Rich, sumptuous, brainy centre with a light hazelnut crunch in every bite. The light tartare was not overpowering and balanced the rich brains to a tee. A very well thought out dish (pardon the pun).
An inside look into the true craftsmanship and beauty of these rare delicacies. Take special note of the gooeyness attached to each of of the lightly fried balls. All of it adds up to my most memorable brunch options of my eating career. Call them genius, call them mind blowing, call it the smartest dish you have ever eaten – just go chom some extra brains. A must order for any keen foodie.
If the Duchess is your local spot, then I can’t help but be somewhat envious of you. If you are an East-sider (like myself), then the traverse across our great city (Melbourne) for a premium breakfast or lunch is well worth it. Either way, I implore you to find a cafe using higher quality produce and constructing more creative dishes. Seriously, let me know if you find one. For the moment, I will leave you very comfortably saying that ‘you won’t’. I think it is time that you spoil yourself like royalty and dine with her excellency - The Duchess of Spotswood.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Superior quality cafe fare
Noise: Gentle hum
Suitable for: All creatures great and small
Price: $20 – $25 a head w coffee
My View: Exceptional
Address: 87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood
Phone: (03) 9391 6016
Tip: Head a few doors down to Candied Bakery (81a Hudsons Rd) for a sweet treat after/before Duchess!
Pei Modern. The name of Australian restauranteur Mark Best’s newest venture in Melbourne’s CBD. Best is well known by many for his multiple award winning Marque Restaurant in Surry Hills, NSW. I have not been to Marque and assuming that the big wheels keep on turnin’ – I shall one day. I did visit Pei Modern for dinner in September 2012 and to be frankly honest - it was awesome.
Located at the base of the Sofitel Hotel on Collins Street, Pei has established itself as a premiere all-day dining venue offering a breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a bar menu. Pei has recently been awarded the prestigious honour of ‘Best New Restaurant’ in Victoria for 2012, by the ever reliable Age Good Food Guide. Being awarded such a prestigious honor certainly pumped up my expectations (and appetite) before attending.
The cuisine is modern Australian incorporating gastronomic edge to many of the dishes. I was recommended by many to take advantage of the degustation dining experience. This consisted of 7 courses at, dare I say, a reasonable price of $90 per head (without tip or alcohol included) but I do think that it was quite reasonable for the callibre of the food. As such, we swooped in while we can still afford it. An a la carte option is available too.
Our palette was whet with freshly sliced sourdough, butter and salt – the key to this chommer’s heart. The simple combination of these three basic staples makes for a superb beginning to the feast. To cap it off, the hospitable staff replaced the full package as soon as we were done. Believe it or not – the upcoming feast was so large we only went through two rounds of bread!
The first course was the almond garzpachio with blue swimmer crab. This was a fabulous opening dish that was light but flavourfilled. Small pieces of fresh crab were hidden under a dressing that we felt tasted almost like hummus. Sweet red grapes were included too, which balanced the dish well.
We moved onto the cold smoked tuna with goat’s curd and mustard seeds. This dish was an artist’s piece and almost looked to good to chom. Almost! Possibly the finest tuna that has ever graced my lips. Add all that other craziness and liquid goat’s curd underneath – you have a delicious dish.
Just a little warning, don’t be a hater and just eat Peter – he tastes delicious. The rabbit meatballs with slow cooked carrot were to die for! Definitely in the top 7 dishes we had for the night. While these were not as visually appealing, they made up for it in sheer eating delight. Warm, soft and full of juice, lying in juice. The carrots were not the center of attention but were divine too and soft as butter.
From my understanding, this is quickly becoming Pei’s signature dish. This is Dutch cream potatoes with bone marrow, potatoe mousse and coffee grounds. While the name/description do not sound too desirable, I felt I was comfortably in safe hands. This was a massive serving of soft potatoes hiding beneath the super flavoursome creamy broth. Word’s cannot describe the flavours – a must try!
The fifth and final savoury course was the wood fire grilled hanger steak charred pablano pepper and harissa. A beautiful, rare piece of meat to take the centre stage with the harissa a ‘match made in heaven’ accompaniment. Truthfully, we were all full to the brim by this point. How did we manage dessert?
Dark chocolate sorbet with crushed chocolate and honeycomb. The photo does not depict this well, you may be able to make out the chocolate at the base of the cones. This is for dipping the ice cream into – need I say more? And, YES double dipping did occur – triple too!
The 7th course finally arrived – the one that we truly believed that our stomachs had no room for. It was white chocolate and yoghurt ganache with fresh mandarin and sorrel sorbet. I summoned to the almighty chomming gods for the strength to plough this dessert.
Pei Modern is truly something special. Save it for a special occasion or don’t – either way just make sure that you find the time to go down. Hands down I would recommend the degustation experience as an awesome way of trying a large portion of the menu. From what I am aware, the menu changes every day of the week but Sunday when Pei has a little rest. Open from 5:30pm all other days – Pei Modern is at your service.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Modern Australian / Gastronimic
Noise: Nice hum
Bookings: Yes – Praise the lord
Suitable for: Adults inclined
Dress: Work wear appropriate
Price: $90 per head (excluding alcohol)
My View: An affordable and scrumptious degustation experience
Address: 45 Collins Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 8545
The Chommery visited Hobart, Tasmania for three days and two nights during the winter of 2012. The plan was to visit the much hyped MONA museum and to eat our way through Hobart. Looking back on my short trip, I believe that both tasks were accomplished and kept to a very good standard. Just to let you know, I am not a museum person by a long shot. To put it in perspective I am the sort of guy who is more excited by the museum cafe than the actual exhibition. Don’t Judge! Nevertheless, MONA was epic and most definitely worth visiting. You will see some crazy sh*t that you have never imagined or seen before.
Now, let us get to the serious business regarding the food scene in Hobart right now. I have to admit sampling the cuisine on offer is always a highlight of travelling for me. The following is a short overview of five places that are Chommery Approved suggestions for visitors and locals to inspect in Hobart.
Jackman & McRoss Bakery - Battery Point
First stop was at Hobart’s famous Jackman & McRoss bakery in Battery Point. Many guide books and online forums regard this as an institution for Hobart, popular for domestic and foreign individuals. Another Jackman can be located in Cross Street, New Town too.
They have an amazing selection of fresh breads and pastries available to take home. If only we had a kitchen during our short visit we would have gone home with several loaves of bread and maybe some croissants – a couple of brioches too. The locals seriously love this place, continually pouring in and out picking up fresh treats and loads of take away coffee.
I had the egg + salmon construction which can be seen in the bottom left hand photo. This dish was pre-made, and usually I would avoid such sort of dishes. When in Hobart it is okay to make an exception. While I certainly prefer my poached eggs, this was a pleasant alternative. Perched on top of the pastry is horseradish if you were curious. The fruit brioche (top right) worked well to fuel our engines. No signs of stingyness on the butter or jam to accompany.
A great bakery run by delightful staff in a great pocket of Hobart. Perfect spot to chill out, read the paper and have a naughty snack at any time of the day. Even if you don’t visit any of the restaurants/cafes in Battery Point, it is worth heading down for a stroll to admire the buildings and the special views of the water.
Address: 57-59 Hampden Road, Battery Point
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-6:00pm. Sat-Sun 7:30am-5:00pm
Environs Cafe - Battery Point
We just could not get enough of Battery Point, so we chose to hit up Environs for a late breakfast the following day. This was yet another laid back cafe in the heart of Hobart, offering an all day breakfast menu with lunch options too. The menu looked very special here, with some awesome sounding choices including french toast with labne, ricotta pancakes and a breakfast wagyu burger. As a self confessed ‘sucker’ for porridge we just could not go past that. Furthermore, we had to try to eat semi-healthily for some meals when you are on an extended eating adventure.
The Beatles once oh so eloquently put it, and now Einstein has confirmed that ‘all you need is love’ . But for breakfast, all I needed was two poached eggs on bruschetta ($9.00) with a side of chutney ($2.00) and home made sausage ($3.50) (bottom left).
A very satisfying coffee both in taste and visuals. A smooth, creamy flat white that was drunk with pleasure. Loving the leafy latte art – always makes me smile. Meanwhile, the porridge with quince, brandied sultanas and maple syrup ($10.00) is featured above. The memorable quote from this fine breakfast was ‘this is one of the best porridges I have ever eaten/slurped’. Big call considering we deem ourselves as almost porridge connoisseurs. Funnily enough, the waitress motioned that it would not taste as good being made with water as it would with milk. Imagine if we ordered with milk!
The Chommery would definitely go back to Environs in a heartbeat, not to mention recommending this spot to others to satisfy the eternal hunger cravings.
Address: 38 Waterloo Crescent, Battery Point
Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30am-5:00pm. Sun 8:00am-4:00pm
Ethos Eat Drink - Hobart
Ethos Eat Drink is located in Hobart’s city and was one of the two strong recommendations we received for dinner choices. The other one, also found in Hobart’s centre, is Garagistes. Naturally, during our day we ventured out to both options, read the menu, poked our heads inside in order to decide where we would dine on our first night. After a series of long winded evaluations, cost analysis and thought patterns we decided on Ethos. A great choice too, if I don’t say so myself.
Fried chickpeas with chilli salt ($5.00). Amazing entree that we hoovered up in the space of minutes while we perused the menu and began important discussions. This was a very different starter, crunchy and totally addictive.
A little warning, if you are on a budget or you are a massive eater like myself, this will be a very pricy meal. Not to say that I thought we were taken for a ride, you are paying top dollar for excellent cuisine using preimum produce, which is all part of Ethos’ ethos. As you will notice on this post, the menu items do not explain what the dish actually is. It will say maybe three or four ingredients that are involved in each menu item, what these ingredients will combine to make is not exactly stated. For us this was good fun, after we ordered the dishes, we had no idea what we were in for. We were overall very pleasantly surprised. If that is not your ideal situation (which I am sure is the case for most), the kind staff are very knowledgable in the changing menu and will gladly explain any item to you.
Complimentary house made bread with salt and butter. Naturally, the first plate was demolished within seconds. The kind staff were more than obliging to keep fuelling my carbohydrate demands. Butternut squash, crisps and blue cheese ($19.00) (bottom left). Pork and onion cevapi ($19.00) (bottom right).
Smoked ox tongue, pickled shallots and horseradish ($15.00) (top left). Potentially my first experience with tongue. The conclusion, salty and oniony. Quails egg, anchovy and celery salt ($5.00 each) (top right). Each one of these were flavor explosions as the yolk dripped out of crust. Pork fillet dumplings with black beans ($5.00) (bottom left). Goat’s haloumi with lemon ($19.00) (bottom right). Not the cheapest haloumi that I have met in my chomming. Nevertheless, it was grilled perfectly on the outside and the inside was warm and just delightful.
Venison leg, beetroots and horseradish ($27.00). A memorable ending to an awesome feast with this scrumptious dish of soft meat. The dish above is certainly not just delicious but a work of art from the brilliant people in the kitchen at Ethos.
We accompanied our meal with a bottle of Mother’s Milk shiraz – worked magnificently.
Our original plan was in need of slight revision after our memorable meal at Ethos. We were going to be heading to Hobart’s other famous gastronomic restaurant Garagistes for what we imagined to be another blow your mind, degustation-esque meal. We just could not get our act together in terms of appetite and finances for a consecutive meal the next evening. With that in mind, we decided to go to a local favourite called Da Angelo to get a basic pizza/pasta fix. We did this exactly, one pizza, one pasta and two very happy and not-as-poor campers.
Address: 100 Elizabeth Street, Hobart
Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00am-Late. Sat 9:00am-Late. Sun 9:00am-3:00pm
Ecru Coffee - Hobart
How special did we feel visiting this ‘hole in the wall’ cafe on their opening day? – very. Although, we were very surprised that this was their first day of trading. With no exaggerating on my part, there was a continual line of people for the entire time we were around. So much so that I had to ask extremely politely to a small bunch to allow me to take this quick snap. We found out that Ecru is the newly born small little brother of the very popular cafe Villino. Villino is said to be a long time Hobart favourite, popular for a mean esspresso and a variety of bagel options. Due to appetite and time restrictions we did not get a chance to visit though.
For the Melbourne people, you will really appreciate Ecru if you are a fan of Brother Baba Budan and Patricia Coffee Brewers. As I feel this has been done in a similar small and intimate way. The cofee heads will appreciate a changing single origin bean as well as a cold drip option. We found Ecru Coffee as a great spot for a caffeine injection (I had 4 coffees because I sampled them all), and not to mention an excellent information booth. The two characters here knew the Hobart food scene in and out and sent us on our way in good chomming directions.
Address: 18 Criterion Street, Hobart
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:00am-3:00pm
Pigeon Hole – West Hobart
After recommendations from the blokes at Ecru Coffee, Ethos staff and fellow trusted blogger Poppet’s Window, heading to Pigeon Hole was a certainty on our final day in Hobart. We had time to kill and our stomachs were rumbling (what’s new?), and we were confident that a trip to this compact cafe would cure our fixable problems. After the visit we were cured.
How lovely to be confronted with the coffee know how as soon as you walk into the hole. It is clear the birds behind this project know a thing or two about coffee with my favourite combination of Mazzer grinder and La Marzocco coffee machine. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case the mug of flat white pictured above. Excellent coffee found here folks.
A nice breakfast+lunch menu serving a limited variety of options all made on premises. Pictured to the right is the eggs with jamon, onion, spinach and grana ($11.70). Truthfully, an interesting choice and one that I have not had anywhere before. It could be described as a baked egg options with ham mixed through with strong white cheese to cover. A memorable choice. How brilliant do those cakes look?
The love affair with porridge never seems to cease with The Chommery. Porridge with organic kindred oats, cream and roasted walnuts ($9.50). This was on the sweeter side of regular porridge as it was pre-sugared/spiced when it arrived. No problems here, as the famous saying goes ‘the more sugar the merrier’. A beautiful porridge that was served at the optimal warmth with excellent consistency. We rated it 7.5 oats out of ten.
Address: 89 Goulbourn Street, Hobart
Although, I would admit this cafe is slightly larger than an actual pigeon hole it is probably not by much. As such the name is very befitting for the size of this little gem. Serving a very substantial menu for this size of premises is really quite an achievement. The Chommery felt a real underlying Melbourne vibe when dining here, something to do with the compactedness or even the fashionably isolated location. Either way, this is a top notch cafe that is really warm and welcoming to people of all types. Be it breakfast, lunch or espresso, Pigeon Hole does not mind if you chill out like a bird for the day. The staff are very friendly and accomodating and this is a real asset to Hobart. Three thumbs up.
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am-4:30pm
Hobart is truly a lovely city, which is just as enjoyable if you are not into your food. I will finish up here with the awesome photo of a snow capped mountain taken during a daily stroll. Take the time to visit Tasmania.
During the course of the ever-long eating journey, you come across many difficult choices. One of, is which cafe or restaurant will be the next destination to be feasted at. Choosing to dine at The Smith in Prahran was not one of these difficult decisions. After driving past the premises, pressing my hot hands up on The Smith’s front windows to see the sleek interior and checking the menu on their website; I was hooked before I’d even visited.
Strategically positioned on the corner of High Street and Clifton Street in Prahran, The Smith comprises of a cool, sleek double-storey charcoal building, which forms quite a large presence in the area. The simple, but effective signage facing High Street and the yellow beacon on the tip of the property are the only indicators of any name for the site – I like it that way.
The Smith markets itself as a combination pub and restaurant (a.k.a. gastropub). The Chommery understands the gastropub genre as one that provides both for the eaters and the drinkers. Unlike most restaurants where you would most definitely be expected to eat, The Smith has a designated bar and restaurant section. My fellow chommer and I sat along the Clifton street wing = eating department. This is where we enjoyed a great selection of smalller dishes from the ‘tastes’ and ‘a mouthful’ section of the menu. Due to the small number of chommers in our party, we refrained from ordering from the ‘Fish & Meat’ (main meals) section.
To begin the eating fest, a crunchy yet light appetizer of Betel leaves with crispy fish salad, chili and salmon pearls ($6.00 each). Only the freshest ingredients used for this flavorsome concoction.
Kingfish sashimi with lime, chili, toasted coconut and hot mint ($17.00). The delicate soft pieces of fish complemented the strong mint flavours excellently. It was best to try and get some of the white mayo-foamy goodness with each piece. This dish is truly becoming an addition to many of Melbourne’s newer/fancier restaurants because it is just so damn delicious!
Tuna tataki with pickled papaya salad and wasabi dressing ($19.00). Four pieces of very fresh, raw tuna served lightly seared and accompanied by a softly dressed bean-shoot salad.
Tempura soft shell crab sushi roll with avocado and kewpie wasabi mayonnaise ($21.00). The combination of the light tempura on the goo-ey white rice made for a filling entree. I loved the alternate seaweed used to wrap up these substantial pieces of california roll. This could have been our favourite dish for the evening – order it!
Rare-breed sticky pork belly with seared scallops and red chili dressing ($20.00). You could tell that this indeed was a very rare breed, rare enough that we could only have a small taste of this piggy. This could have almost been a psuedo-dessert dish as we found it scrumptious and very sweet.
The main chom concluded with these soft fajitas with braised Cuban wagyu osso bucco, avocado and spicy corn ($18.50). Great note to finish on (of the savoury dishes) if I don’t say so myself. The whole spooning of the tender wagyu, dripping in it’s goodness, over the prepared tacos was a nice touch. I would highly recommend this dish if you are into the current taco wave or just love mad food.
A dessert to remember. This was an epic way to conclude the meal. To think – we were going to leave without dessert. This is the raspberry souffle with white chocolate sorbet ($17.00). I believe this is a must order when you dine here for dinner or if you are in the mood for a late night cheeky dessert and a drink.
The Smith is an excellent restaurant (and pub). The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful, the fit-out is cool and clean and the overall experience made this place as one of my more memorable experiences. The Chommery suggests you head on down when you are happy to justify spending a little bit more coin for this Chommery-approved.
The Smith is a beautiful Prahran gem.
The Important Details…
Suitable for: 18 years +
Dress: Smart casual
Price: $65 per head
My View: Go. Go.
Address: 213 High Street, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9514 2444
In the humble opinion of Samuel at The Chommery, this could have been the restaurant of the year. Established in 2011, Golden Fields is the third incredible venture from Australian chef Andrew McConnell. Fields is a modern take on Asian/Thauralian (Thai Food + Australian Chef) that has blown me away each time I have checked in.
Cumulus Inc. in Melbourne’s city and Cutler & Co in Fitzroy are the predecessors of this fine spot in St Kilda. McConnell maintains an outstanding, enviable standard of food, quality of produce, clean, sleek interior fit-outs and professional service across all three of these gems. I won’t tell a lie, I haven’t yet been to Cutler, although I have heard and read many reviews that would point in this positive direction. Besides which, you can’t get a table there for months! Fields is well worth a visit if you you’re interested in the ‘Melbourne hype’ and all of the very interesting dishes that accompany this. No bargains will be found here folks – just extremely impressive food.
The outside seating sprawls over Fitzroy Street, overlooking Melbourne’s iconic Albert Park. When the weather was as pleasant as it was at 6:30pm in January you couldn’t ask for much more than this spot out front for supper. This isn’t to say that it isn’t lovely in the dining room – it is. However, note to anyone interested in attending: sitting out front is a marching band quieter than sitting inside. Truth be told, Melbourne’s weather as we all know it – the safer bet would be to perch yourself inside.
I’m an admirer of the old saying ‘less is more’. Those that have dined at the Fields will understand exactly what I mean. The entrance to the premises is constructed entirely out of glass display, allowing natural light to pour in. The space is a rectangular configuration, and follows the trend of open bar and open kitchen. You will notice the huge beautiful marble bench that spans the length of the restaurant, creating a space for staff to work busily on the inside, and for bar seating closer to the back of the premises. Swish round tables and shiny metal chairs line the space, leaving only a small walkway to and from the kitchen. But there’s plenty of space to eat comfortably; if you feel the desire to yawn and throw your arms out you won’t hit the people next to you.
Anti clockwise from top left: Candied walnuts with sesame and nori ($8.00); pickles ($8.00); complimentary toasted pumpkin seeds. We were all big fans of the walnuts which were sugar-coated and had a good, salty crunch thanks to the seaweed. Beware: the pumpkin seeds are ultra addictive. The pickles were “slimy yet satisfying” (quote Pumba from The Lion King – epic movie). Honestly, I probably wouldn’t order them again – not enough oomph for me. But that said, none of these plates were too filling, making them successful appetite teasers.
Pork rolls with white kimchi, yuxiang sauce ($14.00) which I hadn’t trialled before. These were good, not my favourite, but good. The combination of the potent flavours of spring onion and coriander combined with the dressing made for an enjoyable, wholesome dish. I can’t help but comment on how gorgeous the presentation is on this plate – Chommery approved.
New England lobster roll in a hot buttered bun, cold poached crayfish, watercress and kewpie ($15.00 each). A bunch of food critics have included these little treasures in their favourite dishes of 2011. Larrisa Dubecki, of The Age had these at 4th place in the Best Dishes of 2011 in Melbourne, and I would have to agree, these are incredibly scrumptious. I’ve visited the Fields several times now and I can’t stop myself from ordering one of these. The bun is very lightly toasted, the lobster melts in your mouth (I am basically salivating as I write this) and the mayonnaise is light with just enough lettuce to crunch. I know that these aren’t a bargain at $15 each, but they’re a total must-order if you haven’t tried them. Note: I’m almost certain this is the only dish available on a take-away basis.
There’s something similar about the look of this dish and the pork rolls, right? Again, a good combo of the sharp (onion, chilli, coriander) and the mild (mmm, chickie). Shredded chicken salad with sesame paste, homemade cold rice noodles and chilli oil ($15.00). The recommendation is to give the salad a good ol’ toss once before you start ho-ing in. Cutting the large pieces of chicken when mixing it all up also helps. This is my favourite salad of the Field’s salads I have ordered – as I say, the sharper flavours of chilli, coriander and onion beautifully complement the fat noodles and chicky.
Rustic pork dumplings served with chilli Shanghai vinegar ($9.00 for 2 pieces). Drool moment number two for all the chommers on board for this Field(s) trip. These are entirely different to the heavily BBQed, over-sauced pork-style mince you often expect to bite into when you order pork buns. No such perils in this golden instance. The bun is warm and oh-so-soft (you could eat it with your gums). Then your teeth hit a juicy delicate cube of pork. Coating it with the vinegar provided is optional. Naturally, I drowned mine in it; it’s a great flavour change from the standard plum or soy that usually accompanies my favourite type of bun.
Twice cooked duck leg, steamed bread, vinegar and plum sauce ($20.00 + $(?)extra bread). Need something more? These involve a DIY assembling process. (New trend? You tell me). Yes, I am a thoughtful, generous, chivalrous young man, so I organised these for the table using the following expert method: 1. Open the warmed plush bread; 2. Lather plum sauce on one side of bread; 3. Drip vinegar on same side as plum; 4. Place one stick of cucumber along the fold of the bun; 5. Tear up duck leg with a spoon and fork (yes it is that soft – no knife is required); 6. Pack bun full of torn duck.
There we have it: the constructed duck roll. I know my handy-work looks pretty good, but seriously, this photo does no justice to how exquisite this dish is. Even with two extra buns served for only one leg, each of the five buns are overflowing with duck. It took the self-discipline of a zen monk to not swallow this juicy, delectable treat in one go. Folks, this is a must order.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder with cumin seed and salted lemon ($68.00). I should have included a picture of what the inside of this huge piece of delicate meat looked like after it was hacked at with the cutlery provided. This is a big dish – we shared it as a main between five people and we all had more than our fair share. It comes with a not insignificant price tag of a whopping 68 bucks, but I maintain that this can be justified when shared between five people as a main. Break it down. This dish is a perfect example of the Aus-fusion style of Fields, with the Asian themed presence all through the night and a western style main course. I wasn’t complaining – Trust me, I was chomming.
Fields has a bunch of salads and vegie dishes on the menu including one with heirloom tomatoes, tamarind and shallots, one with watercress and chrysanthemum leaf, and a Zucchini with black beans and chilli. We chose mixed greens in XO sauce ($15.00) to provide some vegetable presence alongside the lamb monster! The other options sounded mysterious and enticing.
Peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate ($10.00). Wowzers. I have now ordered this desert on two separate occasions. Be prepared for a firm cube of sweetness showered in crushed peanuts. I want to marry this dish. But then, that is to say I would never order one of these to myself. The Chommery-approved recommendation is to share between four. A couple of heavenly spoonfuls is all that’s required to end this extraordinary meal on a sweet note.
The lack of quality eating on Fitzroy Street has definitely taken a turn with the addition of this hot-spot. If this restaurant was actually Fields of some sort, the colour would be golden, no doubt. Months after opening, this place still packs out for lunches and dinners. You can’t book at night (unless you are a party of eight or more) so the best suggestion is to rock up between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. Head to Golden Fields if you appreciate outstanding quality food and you can justify forking up some Aussie dollars for the privilege. Fields is unquestionably one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne. If you also like it, maybe we can be friends.
Much love as always, The Chommer.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Asian fusion
Noise: Inside is loud when full (it’s mostly full) Outside: General noises of Fitzroy street happenings
Bookings: Evening bookings for 8 – 14 only; Lunch Bookings available
Suitable for: All ages welcome. Older (16+) will appreciate more
Dress: Smart casual, although most don’t mind
Price: $50 – $60
My View: A must go restaurant. Superb.
Address: 157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9525 4488
I only found out about David Chang’s existence in the cheffing/food world mid way through 2011. Once I was informed of Chang and his new venture in the Star complex in Sydney I was hot on the trail. I soon learned that this man was a big deal in the food business with numerous restaurants in New York City, various cookbooks and the creator of the ‘worlds most famous pork bun’. After learning these enticing details I decided that I must try Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney.
The tricky part about getting into MSeiobo is the new online booking system. This system requires you to create your own username and password to log onto the booking page of the website. Once you have done this, the fun begins… I logged in and attempted to find bookings many times, most of these were just to test the water and see how it worked. Tables for 1,2,3 or 4 people were available only with strictly three seating per evening. The day I went on to make the actual booking (the system opens at 10:00am), all were taken by 10:01. Obviously, many other massive chommers were waiting on their computers and clickin’ them mouses faster than me. BUT! Somehow I was lucky when I checked 10 minutes later to find a cancellation. So Boom – I tooked it. Boom – I had one minute to confirm. Boom – they took my credit card details. Boom – I was locked in. Very excited and slightly nervous.
Some snacks to begin the meal consisting of shiitake chips, nori, mochi and smoked potato.
Steamed pork bun made with pork belly, cucumber and hoisin. This was hands down the softest and most delectable dish I have ever tasted!
Kingfish with blood orange.
Marron served with fennel, dill and a squid ink puree.
Beef with fermented black bean, covered by radish slices.
As above – These are the succulent cubes of beef hiding beneath the radish.
Smoked eel with jerusalem artichoke and pink grapefruit.
Swimmer crab with butter, pepper and a Yorkshire pudding – a highlight.
Egg with toasted rice and butter.
Hand-torn pasta with goats cheese, chili, mint and cherry tomatoes.
Striped trumpeter with smoked roe and onions.
A knife worth taking a photo of! This is to be used for the next dish.
Lamb neck accompanied by cauliflower and mustard. I was apprehensive to eat this at first, but very happy to get over it. The neck was very soft and the mustard complemented the meat amazingly.
Pecorino served with honey licorice and bee pollen.
The sleek kitchen fitted out beautifully. The L shaped bar is built for prime viewing of the chefs in action.
Wattle seed with malt and crispy milk.
Miso ice cream, pickled strawberry, toasted rice and mustard.
Eight hour roasted pork shoulder with sweet honey glaze. This was the final dish (and the 15th) which was the petite four substitute which was not featured on the menu.
This is a long meal, roughly 2.5 hours in length and if accompanied by alcohol, take note of the amount of booze being consumed. We did a semi-pairing option of alcohol and needless to say, we were quite intoxicated by the end of the night (not to mention rolling out the door). Our regret was that we may have been slightly to p*ssed to appreciate the final couple of dishes. They were damn tasty though!
If you manage to acquire a booking to this fine, hip and happening place you are in for a gastronomic treat. Take note of my photos and the descriptions provided to see what you will be in for.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Heavy Asian influence
Noise: Moderate to loud rock/alternative music with quiet chatter from the customers
Bookings: Via online reservation system
Suitable for: Adults (not children)
Dress: Casual/Smart casual
Price: $175 set menu (per head). $95 pairing beverages (additional)
My view: An amazing gastronomical experience
Address: 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009 (The Star)