So for a few days of fun and cheap takeout with my mates in Melbourne, my boss lands in the city for a few days of meetings and business. He asks me where I’ve been and whether I’ve booked a great place to wine and dine for dinner. My answer? Nope. His answer was an incredible odd look stating the fact that I was in the gorgeous city of Melbourne, a supposed food enthusiast and I had no excitement in my eyes about finding a new restaurant. He casually suggests we try our luck and squeeze in a booking at The Press Club.
We got incredibly lucky.
Being extremely indecisive, we opt for Symposium Degustation menu consisting of eight dishes with seafood, chicken, pork, lamb and finished off with a chocolate and berry dessert. My excitement finally got the better of me and I was grinning ear to ear in anticipation.
Seafood skewers, feta “cigars” and tomato soup
First up, there were complimentary fresh breads with amazing olive oil, olives and black salt – and what a fantastic idea of being able to choose your type of bread! Shortly after, our first official dish rolls out – seafood skewers served cold and crispy feta cheese cigars with a tomato soup with a mix of tapioca, basil, tomatoes and many other herbs. My first impression of this strange concoction is its striking resemblance to tabouli. It’s surprisingly light and sweet to taste; perfectly matched with our skewers.
Next up is the Taramosalata, a dish of fresh oysters served with olive oil cous cous made with liquid nitrogen that is drizzled over the oysters at the table. Another component to the dish is the potato chips with a seasoning that tasted like bacon and we were reassured that it was completely vegetarian. I’m not the greatest fan of fresh oysters but I did give two a go before passing the last one across the table. The olive oil definitely added a little something something that made it less daunting to consume a oyster raw.
The Tzatziki, a bed of swimmer crab topped with a swirl of cucumber sliced so thinly like “spaghetti” served with a cucumber yoghurt soup poured over the dish at the table. This dish felt usual at first but it’s probably one of my favourite dishes of the night, especially a bite with all the components; crab, cucumber and yoghurt soup. The cucumber was so amazingly sliced that I was convinced it was anything else but cucumber until I inspected it closer.
“Chicken”, pastelaki of chicken wings, kritharaki, mytzithra snow
Next up are a series of meats, starting from the lightest of them all, the humble chicken. The waiter serves us two anonymous dishes with the dome on top with “mytzithra snow”, delicately shaved parmesan cheese on the side. As the waitress lifts the dome, it reveals to us a pastelaki of its wings swimming in kritharaki, a pasta very similar to risotto. The chicken bursts with flavours and spices and the subtle kritharaki adds the right touch of saltiness.
“Pig”, bangalow pork, loin, belly, pork baklava, apple horiatiki
The next dish is the pork; a bangalow pork which is very sweet to taste. A piece of generous fatty pork slice is served with a pork baklava and topped with an apple horiatiki and puree. As a lover of pork, this was one of my favourite meaty dishes of the night. The pork baklava added a new and exciting element with pork cooked with sweetness and nuts, but my favourite would have to be the compliments on the dish to the pork – the fantastic crunch and sourness from the granny smith apples and the carrot and star anise puree that added a new texture to the dish. I polished this off in no time…
“Lamb”, neck, miso mousaka
The last of the savory courses is the lamb “neck” served with miso mousaka, black garlic, shortbread garnished with candied feta and a saffron and shallot puree. Not a lover of lamb so it was difficult to appreciate the unusual components of this dish. I did devour my lamb which was cooked to perfection, so the distinct taste and scent of lamb was nicely masked by the tenderness and amazing glaze and candied feta.
“Refreshing”, frozen citrus, yoghurt snow
As a pre-dessert, we had a refresher dish of greek yoghurt masked as a sorbet on a bed of frozen citrus. The citrus has an amazing tang of bitter and sweet, and the yoghurt is one of my favourite components of the night; it was just the perfect palette cleanser.
“Aphrodite”, white chocolate mousse, cherries, roses, soil, scent
To top of the night, is George’s famous Aphrodite dessert with an array of chocolate, berries, cherries, roses and strawberry dessert delights. As it arrives, it’s definitely delightful to the eyes. The “scent” component was surprisingly the most intriguing and left us both in giggles; different to what was shown on Masterchef, our waitress armed with a perfume atomiser doused us with rose water! Although very visually appealing, the dessert had a little too many components that confused my taste buds and all I could smell was rose water – in my hair, dessert and skin. My favourite would be the white chocolate mousse that revealed a hidden burst of berry flavour and the edible sugar coated rose petal on top.
For a first timer at The Press Club, I’m glad we choose the degustation menu which gave us a window to taste most of the menu. Nice laid back atmosphere with fantastic knowledgeable staff who definitely enjoy their wine and food. Amazing wine recommendations from the wine waiters.
Awarded 2 hats by The Age Good Food Guide 2010
The Press Club
72 Flinders St