Most Australians would agree there has always been a bit of rivalry between Sydneysiders and Melbournians, particularly with regards to which city offers better food. Being a Sydneysider now, I must say we do have plenty of great restaurants on offer but I must also confess that every time I’m in Melbourne I am swept off my feet with amazing dining experiences.
This time, my Melbournian friend (& foodie) took me to the newly refurbished Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda. Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not just any gastropub, it’s now a unique bar & restaurant. The owners must have spent a long time (& money) refurbishing the place, as they completed gutted out the inside of this old pub leaving only the old facade on the outside, and the interior has been completely reconstructed in a modern architecturally designed interior, high ceilings with a lattice of dark wooden beams and long cylindrical lamps hanging from the ceiling, on the back of the restaurant concrete arches were built resembling church arches (reminiscent of the interior of Gaudi’s Sagrada Famiglia). I loved the interior decor – very unique & modern design. There is a bar and long shared tables on the front of the restaurant, where we had a drink before we were seated at our table.
They offer a range of wines on tap which they serve by the glass or by 17 ounce or 34 ouce carafes. Loved the idea! We ordered a carafe of their Strathbogie Ranges Tempranillo “from the barrel” (34 ounce carafe $44).
The menu is Californian with South American fusion, and as some of you may know that with my Brazilian heritage I am always drawn to South American food. I was lost with the variety of interesting dishes on the menu – I wanted to try everything!
We started with the Warm poached organic egg, truffles, reggiano & soft polenta $18. Creamy polenta and soft poached egg with wonderful flavours of the truffles infused – beautiful!
(Please excuse the terrible quality of the photos, silly me forgot my SLR that night so these were taken on my iphone with poor lighting)
Prawn & tuna ceviche, avocado, & spicy mango mojo dressing $18 – How I love cevice!! The prawn & tuna were so fresh and the spicy mango mojo giving it a nice bite.
Soft shell crab tacos, guacamole, shaved fennel, spicy corn & tomatillo salsa $17, the crab was perfectly crispy, combined with the lovely spicy corn & salsa.
Grilled buffalo milk haloumi, spiced melon gazpacho salad $18 – I have never tasted such soft haloumi before, being made of buffalo milk it gave it a smooth soft texture, combined with beautiful melon and mushroom flavours.
Quesadilla with huitlacoche, wood BBQ mushrooms, spinach & jack cheese $17
Triple cooked bravas potatoes with 2 sauces $9 – these were tasty bitesize potato pieces with a nice spicy finish.
Yucatan style banana leaf wrapped wood roasted local snapper, jicama & lychee salad, smokey Habanero salsa (min 2 pers) $33pp – the snapper was beautifully cooked, combined with the lovely refreshing flavours of the jicama & lychee salad & the smokey salsa, we wrapped this in small burrito shells – it was divine! 😉
Even though I completely full after all those amazing dishes I convinced my friends we could manage to squeeze in a dessert order. We ordered the Latin style chocolate pot with bananas & dulche de leche $14 (of course a dessert like that, how could I resist?!) This was very rich and smooth dark chocolate mixed with the creamy thick dulche de leche and crunchy banana pieces on top – SCRUMPTIOUS!!!
We left stumbling out of there – I had to carry my belly full of goodness home… On this occasion of the Melbourne vs Sydney restaurants, Newmarket in Melbourne won me over..
“Tastes of California with a wink to the south,
Market produce that teases the mouth.
Cold beer from the tap and wine from the barrel,
Cocktail pitchers with all the apparel.
Sizzle on vinyl and on the grill,
Come entertain Newmarket goodwill.”
Newmarket Hotel, 34 Inkerman St St Kilda, Victoria