A trip to the wrong side of the river
It was a pretty rude shock. Sarah and I had recently returned from a tropical paradise, and found ourselves in St Kilda on a windy winter's night. Dave and Alicia had invited us out to dinner, which as is becoming customary required many messages and phone calls back and forth while we found a venue which was:
a) reasonably priced (we had just spent most of our money on holiday)
b) we could get in.
Point (b) was what gave us the most issues, but eventually we gained a reservation at the Melbourne Wine Room, the restaurant of Karen Martini.
So we rugged up and made the long journey south; over the river that forms such a mental barrier through many minds in our fair city. And I'll admit I'm sometimes guilty of such thinking myself. Nevertheless we made it to St Kilda to the old George Hotel and were soon shown through the staggeringly loud front bar to the dining room. It was quiet when we were shown in, but by the time we left it was bustling - turns out we were lucky to get a reservation here too. I will breifly mention that when full, even the dining room could use some sound absorbers. Between the hard walls and floor, and high ceiling, it can get pretty noisy in there; we were a little hoarse by the end of the evening.
I'd like to be able to recount you with details of the menu and the specials of the night, but to be honest those are usually things I look up on restaurant's websites after my visit. However a quick visit to http://www.melbournewineroom.com/ turns up nothing but a "Coming Soon" page, but hey at least it's not an unneccesary flash intro.
Entrees were all pretty damn tasty. The sweet corn soup with a couple of deliciously smooth croquettes was a bit of a surprise, and the Morton Bay Bug tart elicited pretty positive reactions from Dave and Alicia. Sarah's onion and mushroom tart was similarly received.
Mains were good, without being particularly outstanding. Although the serving size was a surprise; I'd consider them extremely generous at a restaurant such as this - almost generous to a fault. My suckling pig dish came with enough pork and crackling to keep the meat-a-saurus in me perfectly happy, but the mountain of beans it rested upon was like a mental legume Everest. I know it seems strange to complain about being given too much food, and I'm not complaining really, consider this more of a warning - don't fill up on the sides of the dish, go for the main event.
Dave's salt-crusted charred rib eye was comparitively lonely on the plate, but the sheer size of the cut probably made up for that. The Wagyu beef cheek of Sarah's was as you'd expect from a wagyu beef cheek - extremely moist and tender, if a little fatty - although Sarah was less enamoured with the sauce it came with.
By this stage we were pretty full, but the Gourmet Husbands team doesn't go to restaurants to order two courses. Luckily Dave and Alicia stepped up and took one for the team. Or two - Chocolate panacotta, and a chocolate sorbet. My single spoonful of each reminded me that I shouldn't have eaten so many beans with my main; desserts may have become a highlight if I could have stood to eat them.
All in all we had a pretty good night, and we'll probably be back at some point. I guess I want to say I was a little underwhelmed, but only just. This isn't a negative review, just a kind of gen-x meh. I'd recommend checking it out, but there are a lot of other places in the same price-range I'd recommend first. Especially if you have to cross the river.