The lack of posts lately is mainly due to me being on a new health kick. The girls at work are on a fit for life program and have lent me their Michelle Bridge’s book which details exercise and meal plans. I have to say, it works! No fad diets and crazy exercise programs, just common sense and portion control.
Travelling to Melbourne for work allows me to take a break from the health kick and I get to treat myself to meals out. Tonight I am here at Newmarket Hotel at St Kilda recommended to me by my colleague at work who is a Melbourner. I am told this place has a real buzz to it (even on a Sunday). What I didn’t realise that Newmarket Hotel is owned by Paul Wilson, the same guy who oversees the kitchen of Albert Park and Middle Park in Melbourne.
Mr Dough joins me as he is also too in town for work and I make a dinner reservation online for 9pm The taxi pulls up outside the building and on the outside it looks like a semi un kept pub but as soon as we walk in, it’s like an old Mexican cantina (well Californian Mexican to be exact)
I was worried they weren’t going to seat us at our table as we were 30 minutes early due to Mr Dough finishing his exhibition early. They had our table ready and even though it was a Sunday night, the place was filled with groups of people, probably rounding up their weekend with stories of retracing their last memories before the alcohol haze taking over. We were asked if we wanted guacamole and chips to snack on whilst we were deciding what to order and of course I said yes!
We ordered a carafe wine from the Victorian wine list. These Victorian wines are straight from the barrel right from the vineyards! As I was perusing through the menu, I noticed that not only does it contain your usual South American culprits like tacos and quesadillas but it has Spanish influences too like Jamon, chorizo and Catalan flat breads.
The staff was ultra friendly and upon informing us of the specials of the day, we told him we were from out-of-town and asked if he could recommend the must try dishes. As a result, our menu destiny was in his hands.
First order up was the poached egg with truffle, swimming in soft polenta. Mr Dough normally isn’t a fan of the polenta as it can be quite grainy sometimes but this polenta wasn’t. I can only imagine the unholy amount of ingredients that went into the polenta to enable such a smooth, mash like consistency. The runny egg yolk and slice of reggiano only added extra creaminess to the dish and mouthful upon mouthful, I could feel my waistline expanding.
The taco was the highlight of the night. I smothered the roasted bone marrow onto the taco as a sauce and layered on top the beef brisket. One bite and I was in heaven. The soft tacos are made in-house and even though there was a fair amount of sauce on the taco, it didn’t leak through. The bone marrow melted in my mouth, then came the succulent soft pieces of brisket which you could pull apart with your fork.
The piccolo fritto certainly was not a starter size, it could easily have been a main size for 2 people. The seafood was plentiful with calamari, fish, prawns and mussels covered in a very crispy batter drizzled with ink aioli on top. I think we managed only to make a dent in the dish.
Mr Dough and I were clutching our stomachs at this stage when the last dish of the night arrived – albondigas or Spanish meatballs. Slightly larger than golf balls, the meatballs were smothered tomato sauce with fontina cheese melted all the way through. Mr Dough and I could only share 1 before admitting defeat. Looking back I don’t think we over ordered, it was more the fact each dish was really rich.
All in all I love this place and wished Sydney could have a similar place in town! If you readers out there know of a place which is of the sort, please let me know!!
34 Inkerman St
St Kilda VIC
+613 9537 1777