Stokehouse City Loves Melbourne
Stokehouse City has undergone recent changes but is at the top of its game; The World Loves Melbourne was invited to enjoy a superb Tasting Menu 8 course dinner that had us in superlative overdrive.
Ollie Hansford (previous chef was also named Ollie) from Brisbane's Stokehouse Q and Gauge is working wonders with bold flavours yet holding to to the honesty of the natural ingredients. The interplay is compelling between tastes, textures and even temperatures, with an innovation that is not always apparent on first appearance. A good sign is that during the Tasting Menu we couldn't wait for the next dish.
In other words, it's all going on...
Stokehouse City is in a famous location for Melbourne restaurants, with memories of Mietta's and the like... The charm of the building is alluring; diners can appreciate the high ceilings and design of the large dining space, not to mention the hanging fishing nets nod to Stokehouse (burned down but to be rebuilt) from St Kilda. Service here is professional, if not affable and engaging. It seemed like everyone on the floor had been a sommelier at one time or other; food knowledge is equalled with extensive wine knowledge.
Gin to begin our culinary journey...
House made bread with seaweed butter (creaminess and saltiness) was a delight...
Spectacular was the Bruny Island Oysters with Essence of Seaweed; a sense of theatre as the consomme was poured over the oysters. Bruny Island oysters could be considered a native ingredient.
A stunning dish with intense but refreshing taste and served cold was the Almond Gazpacho with Marigold and Pepper Berry; again the innovative use of native ingredients was on display. No spoon, just drink from the bowl.
Ollie is not afraid to serve dishes with bold tastes such as the crunchy Haggis with Sweet Swede; delightful crunch and big haggis taste within. A small but rich dish with tasty Sweet Sweded puree cutting through the richness of the haggis. We think this dish makes haggis "accessible" to those who may bulk at the thought of eating haggis...
Matching Spinifex Rose was a sensational pairing..
We struggle with some degustations where there's heavy course after heavy course in succession; Ollie takes a bigger picture and mixes it up with this light refresher of Tomato, Watermelon, Eucalyptus and Tarragon. Again, there's the influence of native ingredients from the Eucalyptus which adds to the refreshment.
Creativity displayed in this Potato Slaw, Spanish Mackerel, and Pil Pil sauce; Spanish influences were evident and presentation superb. We loved the fact that the fish was different to what was listed (Blue Fish) in the A La Carte Menu; they often provide other options in the Tasting Menu.
Fine dining is about big flavours and we were fans of this Ox Tongue with Green Strawberries, Long Pepper, River Mint and Daikon. The World Loves Melbourne enjoys ox tongue and you don't often see it on menus (or haggis for that matter). Done well ox tongue is delicious; perfect with River Mint found through south eastern Australia, tart green strawberries and the spice hint of long pepper and piquant daikon. Modern zesty food.
Cobia, Corn, Coffee and Rosemary was a highlight for The World Loves Melbourne; Cobia being a fish from Far North Queensland with a pleasing firm flaky and sweet hit. Corn and Coffee was a brilliant accompaniment. At this stage we felt we were on a wonderful culinary journey.
Popular is the Rump Cap with native Wattleseed, Bunya Nut and Onion. Another dish with innovative use of Australian native ingredients.
Who can resist Lamb Fat Peas? With Fermented Crispy Cabbage.
Thick Rump Cap...
Dessert struck a chord with this delightful Rhubarb, Elderflower, Buttermilk and Vanilla dish. Presentation was first class and taste and texture a cacophony. Spectacular shards!
A clever classy dish that honours the culinary pleasure of rhubarb; in fact rhubarb done 3 ways...
Our second dessert was this Mango, Macadamia, Venere Rice and Honeycomb dish; a dessert of the highest order. Again it was taste and texture overdrive with crunch of the rice and macadamia against the mango and ice cream; not to mention the sweet hit of honeycomb. So good. Both desserts wer not excessively sweet; on trend and how we like it.
Stokehouse City is a sheer dining pleasure destination, on top of it's game, and willing to step out of the safe harbour for interesting dining waters. A truly sensory experience with Ollie Hansford hitting home runs. Highly recommended.