Pembroke Bar and Kitchen in Surrey Hills
Pembroke Bar and Kitchen is a top notch foodie haven and a revelation in Surrey Hills. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to experience Pembroke and its menu and we were highly impressed. The story for us is the advent of top quality foodie destinations in the burbs. In other words you don't have to travel into the city for a first class foodie experience of inner city quality!
Greeted by owner Adrian Morrisy we soon learned about his restaurant pedigree (a successful restaurant in Adelaide called Tasca Viva and 40 outlets of Wokinabox) and his passion to return to Surrey Hills. Being from Adelaide I thought this restaurant may be named after Pembroke school or even Pembroke furniture, but it's actually named after a street in Surrey Hills where Adrian and his partner lived.
Adrian enlisted former Tipo 00 and Osteria Ilaria sous chef, Christos Milionis, to head up the kitchen. These are foodie people on a mission passionate about what they do. At the end of the meal Christos asked us about every dish and we appreciated a chat; he is a super talented chef.
First thing I noticed upon entry was the smart engaging fit out (a Fiona Lynch designed space) with banquettes, large cushions, bottles along the window, chic lighting and a sexy bar. Not to mention a communal table. Pembroke brings the little touches. We like this strip of venues in Surrey Hills and Pembroke surprises with not only its fashionable front section but its compelling back section (great place for functions). This is a place that opened in Melbourne winter and has done well since opening but we can see it doing great things in spring and summer.
A delightful starter to kick off our dining journey with olives and foccacia bread. With glass of wine of course. The wine selection is not large but its quality all the way.
Wine list features European wines as well as local Australian. We enjoyed the texture of this wine with the early dishes.
Mushroom croquette, truffle aioli was a simple pleasure. These croquettes are packed with flavour and had excellent crunch on the outside and tender on the inside. You can order a selection of small dishes with a glass of wine or two or you can go bigger with larger dishes on the menu (as we did).
Citrus cured salmon, black garlic aioli, pickled celeriac was a sensational dish. A special on the menu, the cured salmon was outstanding. Kudos also for black garlic aioli which I mistook at first for pureed mushroom. Well presented this dish was art on a plate.
Whitebait and parsley mayonnaise was an enjoyable small dish. While cutlery was provided you can't help but use fingers to enjoy the tasty salty hit of whitebait. With a squeeze of lemon of course. The mayo was superb and a touch of class.
I love the flexibility of the Pembroke Bar and Kitchen menu with modern trend of ordering a number of dishes and small tastes, with the option of going bigger for some mains. It raises the same question of when we visited Embla - is this a bar with a kitchen or is this a kitchen with a bar? Because both are great!
Octopus, harissa, scordalia was a delightful dish featuring perfectly cooked octopus and the perfect accompaniment of the garlicky potato scordalia (keeping with the Greek theme). The harissa was also perfect with the octopus bringing an element of heat. Check out the caramelisation on the octopus.
Gnocchi lover? I highly recommend the Gnocchi, burnt carrot, and pepato. Creamy and rich sauce was a highlight without being overpowering. Shaved parmesan on top of course. A decent portion at a reasonable price when you want to go bigger at dinner.
Duck maryland, red cabbage, bulgur wheat, raisins featured perfectly cooked duck and a great stock. Texture highlight as well as taste with the cabbage, wheat and raisins.
Staff were experienced and had owned restaurants themselves, hence their engaging manner and professionalism. Our chats with staff were a highlight of the night.
Duck served on the bone. There was a good number of full tables on the night we visited mid week.
Shock value. You may be surprised with the quality of your local!
Salads were top notch including this Brussel sprouts, salsa verde, manchego.
We were keen to try the goat dish. Braised goat, chickpeas, cavolo nero was a rustic hit.
Desserts also impressed with this Rhubarb, yoghurt ice cream and mint dish.
Chef Christos Milionis is hugely talented was has been making waves since arriving in Melbourne from Greece.
Pembroke has several attractive dining spaces with a great vibe.
Check out this back section which we feel will be a hit in spring and summer.