Stunning Kerasma Degustation at The Press Club
The Press Club is a flagship restaurant with an evolving and exciting dining experience based on both Greek and Australian cuisine. With a test kitchen next door full of the latest kitchen equipment chefs are inspired to innovate and this is reflected in the latest menu. There is no standing still here. If you've been to The Press Club say a couple of years ago you will find new and exciting dishes in visiting today. Be prepared to be taken on a journey that is a fabulous sensory experience.
Day and night, The Press Club has a modern and alluring vibe with its leather booths.
The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to experience the latest degustation menu (we did all 8 courses although you can also do 5). While we highly recommend the degustation (for us the chefs can showcase highlights with a degustation), you can also order a la carte! Also The Press Club do a fabulous lunch trade that captivates corporates and those wanting to visit during the day (the atmosphere is also great during the day).
In a sea of competition we found The Press Club stands out for its service (rated as important as the food these days), exciting dishes, expertly matched wines and for the overall dining experience. For us this is what we are looking for in fine dining. You tend to reflect on a menu at the end of the night and ask yourself, how many highlight dishes can I recall? And for us there were plenty. You also ask yourself, do I want this degustation to end? And to this question we wanted it to never end. Even though we were full and satisfied, if not satiated.
First impressions count for everything. When we arrived at The Press Club we were greeted by Brad, surely one of the best hospitality specialists in Melbourne. Engaging, fun and professional. As a young professional he knows The Press Club dishes well (as we would expect) but he also knows the Melbourne scene well and is up with latest food trends. In point he is a "foodies' foodie" himself. When he's not at The Press Club he's out and about with his friends trying new foodie experiences. We so enjoyed the connection with Brad (who even showed us The Press Club test kitchen) and at times had to remember that he needed to serve other customers. Other staff also attended our table in a seamless flow.
Cocktails are a hit at The Press Club. To be honest I find many places have predictable cocktails and I don't always partake. But I would recommend you grab a cocktail at The Press Club. I enjoyed the King Otto with barrel aged Tsipouro, Athenian vermouth, bitter served with Navy strength saffron ice. It was something like a Greek Negroni. Rich and powerful this cocktail is inspired by King Otto. The theatre involved with the two cocktails ordered was stunning. I loved this Negroni style cocktail and the advent of thick hand cut ice infused with saffron was artistic and added to the cocktail experience. A sophisticated top notch cocktail.
Also a standout was the Katharo cocktail (ordered by my friend and financial wizard Mark) with Vodka and Tsipouro, distilled feta and rosemary, homemade Robola Vermouth. Something of a Greek style Martini with a twist. Liquid nitrogen cools the glass for the Greek style martini.
Top notch cocktails with flair at this fine dining establishment are a joy.
The 8 course Kerasma Degustation then followed and it lived up to its name as a journey into both Greek and Australian cuisine (with harmony).
Patates Lemono, Yuzu.
A top notch selection to start the degustation. Savoury Loukoumades donuts with dipping sauce were a hit, as were the pops of trout roe. Lamb offal also with dipping sauce was a rustic triumph (depends whether you're into offal but we certainly are).
Saganaki with Yarra Valley infused Juniper honey is rewarding and rustic.
Avgolemono served in exquisite egg shells. The preparation just for this dish takes as much effort as some of the mains on the menu.
Scallops, Whey, ouzo.
This was an innovative dish of scallops done 2 ways (hot and cold). Just take off the top shell to reveal fresh scallops with a compelling combination of whey and ouzo for a fresh sophisticated hit, elevating the scallops and enhancing their flavour.The Press Club also cleverly used the roe in croquettes that were delicious.
The Scallops dish featured Port Phillip Bay scallops and was served with shell on. Remove the shell cover and partake of the cold scallops with whey and ouzo (and I believe lemon oil).
Yes I could eat a plate of these scallop croquettes but perhaps not as it was a substantial degustation.
Presentation is everything.
Truffles and cutlery ready for our next culinary adventure.
Efranor from the Slopes of Aenos was a delightful Greek wine.
Potato from Trentham, Yuzu citrus, truffle mayo.
Baked potato. The perfect rustic winter dish. Not only was there a delicious truffle mayo underneath the potato but loads of WA truffle shaved on top of the Trentham potato. And not just any potato but Pink fir apple potato locally sourced from Sandors Farm in Trentham cooked in rapeseed oil from the Yarra Valley and served with yuzu broth, truffle and anise hyssop.
A touch of theatre as the broth is poured. Yuzu brought a citrus hit that once again elevated the dish and the flavours of the potato.
Eggplant ‘Kleftiko‘, Wallaby.
Once again a great example of how Greek and Australian food can harmonise and excite. The idea of a kleftiko is genius, where meat is slow cooked in a parcel, often with parchment paper.
Smoke eminating from the Paperbark was a stunning touch of theatre and made us realise The Press Club brings a true sensory experience. The aromas of the experience are top notch and excite. Even the Greek Negroni on arrival had a compelling aroma. All senses are stimulated at The Press Club.
A highlight if not a signature, the smoky taste of the Wallaby was first class. The crispy eggplant was the perfect accompaniment as part of the "kleftiko" element (as well as the slow cooking of the meat).
Perhaps the pick of the wine match was this Gammay paired with the smoky Wallaby.
Htapodi, Lentil, Lime.
Htapodi is translated "octopus" in Greek. This dish had a "wow" factor because of the quality of the octopus and the intensity of the red wine reduction and citrus hit. This was octopus from Robe in South Australia (a fine seafaring town) with lentils cooked in a red wine sauce with the added masterstroke of finger lime and kaffir lime, as well as a pork jowl rind placed on top. We understand that the red wine reduction started at around 40 litres right down to a thick hearty sauce. The octopus is obviously a nod to Greek cuisine but the advent of indigenous lime takes it to another level with the native citrus hit.
It reminded us of a few of the WA Marron dishes we've tasted at other top restaurants. Rather here we have a thick portion of exceptional octopus with juicy fine flesh (no toughness whatsoever) and accompaniments that are stunning and enhance. This was not just a dish but we felt a statement. Of all that is good about Greek and Australian food and how they can come together in harmony.
One of several highlights. I love it when a restaurant creates "talking points" and this was a talking point.
Santorini wine was unique even with a slight saltiness and exceptional minerality.
Talented Head chef Reuben Davis made several appearances to our table and it was awesome to get his "take" on the dishes.
A kind of brioche (infused with wattleseed) with seaweed and vine butter.
The array of knives and cutlery at The Press Club is impressive.
Kid Stiffado, Goats Curd.
Here we have a unique dish with premium goat (Greek style) treated like a stew then rolled back to appear like a steak. The goat was tender and was heightened by caramelised onion and parsnip chips.
I paired back the dish to show you the stunning portion of goat. When goat is done well it's a revelation, and this sophisticated goat stew was exceptional and the perfect winter rustic dish.
A Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir was the perfect wine pairing.
Papia, Citrus, Mastic.
Papia is translated "duck" in Greek. Premium duck from the Macedon ranges, corn fed and served with mastic yoghurt lemon gel citrus salad and a grapefruit reduction sauce.
Knives with an inscription are a fabulous Greek tradition.
Someone forgot to tell The Press Club that you can only have Pinot Noir with Duck. And we're glad of that. Whistler Barossa Valley Grenache was the perfect match.
The grapefruit reduction sauce also contains lime and juices of the duck. Whereas we've had so many Duck L'Orange dishes over the years, here we see innovation with other citrus elements elevating the duck dish.
Meli Gala – Milk and Honey.
After several rich dishes we were served a light dessert simply described as "milk and honey" but had several exciting nuances. The Fennel pollen element was genius and the yoghurt with lemon curd a joy.
Dig to the bottom to get some of the lemon curd.
Chestnut, Sokolata, Kumquat.
This was the second exceptional dessert we received; a celebration of winter chestnuts (puree) with kumquats, cultured ice cream and a chocolate fondant. this was a celebration of texture as well as taste. The desserts weren't too heavy and this was perfect given several of the degustation dishes were quite rich (how we like it).
Anyone for Backgammon? Yes you can play but better to eat these chocolates. Clever.
This was an exciting, innovative and impeccable dining experience. Did we have any points we could criticise? Not really. In all honesty this experience over delivered.
Apart from Brad, staff impacted on our experience, such as Laurent on the floor. Reuben the head chef is hugely talented and visited our table a couple of times talking about the dishes and the philosophy behind them. This all added to our experience.
We felt standout ingredients were elevated in a modern cooking environment with high class technique. Essentially The Press Club puts in a lot of effort. Into everything. We wondered how many hours went into putting this degustation together behind the scenes? Pop in for a la carte, a degustation of 5 or 8 dishes, and even for lunch. George Calombaris is on top of his game. Highly recommended.