As a restaurant lover/blogger/nutter, I feel as though I breached an unspoken rule when I visited Huxtaburger before I dined at Huxtable. The predicament I had put myself into was something along the lines of watching The Dark Knight before watching Batman Begins. Nevertheless, in a very timely manner, I moved swiftly to correct this. Now I can sleep at night knowing that Huxtable has been conquered.
Huxtable is positioned nicely on Smith Street, Fitzroy, situated in arguably one of Melbourne’s current top eating precincts, almost rubbing shoulders with some of my favourite restaurants including Huxtaburger, Gigibaba and Easy Tiger. With the addition of Huxtable to this diverse range of hot-spots, I couldn’t recommend a visit to this neck of the woods more highly. To all the south siders - don’t think it’s too much of a trek! I used to feel the same as you but I am now a better man after migrating my eating to north of the Yarra.
The menu was separated into ‘bites’ (small mouthful starters) and the larger dishes, which were ’to share’. The sharing plates were further divided into sub-categories of land, earth and sea. After reading through the menu for the third time, a long discussion ensued. Several small bites were ordered to whet our palates while we mulled over the main courses. A long thinking process was essential, as almost the entire offerings were very ‘up our alley’. To describe the cuisine, I would have to say Modern Australian/International – meaning a mix of food from here and there. We decided on two land and one sea dish for the mains – Excellent choice.
The meal could not have started on a better note. The jalapeno and cheddar croquettes ($3.50 each) were excellent. We broke the ’no fried food’ rule, but they were lightly fried and small so it didn’t count! These were served hot and as you bite through the outer crust, the rich cheddar combined with the fresh jalapeno flavour gave a mexican feel to the dish though its really the texture that makes it memorable - the centre was smooth and delicate with a creamyness. Yum.
The steamed tofu with chilli, ginger and black bean dressing ($4.50 each) were very nicely presented. These were a pleasant two mouthfuls or so, but don’t know if I will be ordering them again. Need to try all the ‘bites’ on the menu before I will repeat the order.
Now, small burgers/sliders/buns have to be one of the most popular appetisers in Melbourne right now. Buttered brioche-esque rolls, mayonnaise with pork belly, chicken or lobster – I mean seriously, how could these not be appealing? Huxtable’s version, the XO bun with crab, jalapeno and Thai basil mayo ($6.50 each) are up there. Crunchy exterior of the bun, with delicate pieces of crabby-mayo mooshyness inside. Bang – all over in 10 seconds. But what a 10 seconds it was!
Tograshi spiced tuna tartare, avocado and crisp nori ($23.00). Delicate, playing dice sized pieces of tuna, spiced up for my liking. Loved the toasted nori slices. I wanted a few more though. The avocado was possibly mixed with sour cream, and was in a paste-like form. Personally, I felt it wasn’t necessary. The tuna is where the money’s at.
Unbelievable main course coming right up. The wagyu and pea eggplant curry, coconut, shallot and lime leaf salad ($26.00) was ridiculous. We were expecting this to be in more of a soup-like curry form. Quite clearly from the photo above this was not the case. It is almost as if the soft pieces of wagyu had been cooked in a curry but served by draining most of the curry part (none of that was complaining, just blabbering). The fresh coconut slices on the top were not just aesthetically pleasing but added a great edge that gelled well with the whole shabang. My partner in crime described this dish as more of an indian flavoured goulash/stew. If you can’t tell – order this bad boy.
Roasted duck breast, quinoa, hazelnut, pickled cherries and goat’s cheese ($27.00). This is a dish to write home about folks. Thick, succulent pieces of lightly seared duck resting on a bed of toasted quinoa. I have never had quinoa served like this before, it provided a good crunch to the meal and combined with the melted goat’s cheese, it made for a stunning course.
Huxtable offers a great range of dishes, using premium quality fresh produce which all contribute to a vast array of flavours. One couldn’t decide between an australian or asian influence, rather a mixed blend that will appeal to all. I cannot say that I would recommend Huxtable for people who tend to watch the hip-pocket nerve when dining out. Luckily enough Huxtaburger (amazing burger joint), diagonally across from Huxtable is a great alternative. For The Chommery, Huxtable could be my top dinner for 2012 thus far. Pick a nice evening, to be on the safe side book ahead, take comfort in our suggestions. Huxtable is excellent.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Modern Australian / International
Noise: Relaxing background buzz
Bookings: E-mail or phone – 6:30pm & 8:30pm
Suitable for: Kids allowed, doubt they will appreciate the quality
Dress: Smarter casual than usual
Price: $65 per head including a glass of Pinot
My View: A fabulous eatery
Address: 131 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Phone: (03) 9419 5101