Dinner at Crofter Dining Room and Bar
With Matt Wilkinson back in Brunswick, Crofter Dining Room and Bar with a modern Australian restaurant with a nod to British cuisine. Crofter is a great example of the dining trend in Melbourne with a no waste policy, and is already making a mark on the Melbourne foodie scene. We posted an article about Crofter Dining Room and Bar when it launched and we were invited along recently (David and Sam), to enjoy a fabulous dinner, starting with drinks and snacks in the bar area before moving through to the main dining area.
While we don't want to repeat the background of our previous article, we want to feature the highlights of our dinner experience. It was great to chat with Matt Wilkinson and hear about the recipes of his childhood, his approachable philosophy to dining, the importance of great produce and minimising waste, and bringing new tastes and flavours to Melbourne with a British nuance. After his epic season with Pope Joan he is now making new waves and fresh chapters with Crofter Dining Room and Bar. The restaurant has hit the ground running, with packed dining sessions and a whole new crowd attracted to the Lygon St restaurant since its re-imagination.
Crumbed snails are a must order.
Dips are next level.
We highly recommend spending time at the bar area for a drink and snacks to start your evening. I was highly impressed upon entry with how the space has been transformed; a nondescript entrance belies the buzz and vibrancy within. Modern decor, floral arrangements, attractive ceiling, plenty of natural light during the day, the appeal of the sleek bar and the marble top tables with wicker chairs. Not to mention stunning artwork. An open kitchen adds to the theatre and Matt Wilkinson at the helm, a charismatic figure and one of Australia's top chefs. Kudos also to the team from design studio Racket. The service team are on song with enthusiasm, engagement and knowledge.
I would describe Crofter as a joyous dining experience, both delicious and playful, with the menu featuring shared dining and an array of compelling smaller dishes. This is modern dining; a bit of this and a bit of that to bring together an exceptional culinary journey. Four Pillars Gin was perfect for my "Southside" G&T, with Sam opting for an Aperol Spritz, complemented with delicious snacks of Crumbed snails and the Mixed Bread and Dips (note the Spiced Dahl and the Butter dip) with garlic naan and house made pickle bread. I would love to have the Butter dip injected in my veins, it's ridiculously delicious and a must order dish in Melbourne. The Spiced Dahl was also exceptional with the garlic naan. This was about taking dips to the next level. After an Americano Sweet Vermouth inspired cocktail I was happy already.
Upon entry into the main dining area we were able to enjoy a delightful Mac Forbes Chardonnay, perfect for every course. We chose from each of the Sides menu, the Flora menu and the Puddings Menu. Matt Wilkinson elevates vegies and salads to centre-stage with local meat and seafood plates taking on supporting roles.
Highlights included the Four Pillars Gin Cured Fish, green harissa; with kudos for the slight spicy kick.
Curried Mussels (a few gems in there) hit the high notes with praise accorded for the first class curry sauce. Like all sauces here at Crofter we were keen to mop up every morsel with bread.
A personal favourite was the Devilled Chook: Hearts, Livers, Egg on toast, Anchovy. This was offal heaven with salty and creamy bliss texture. A unique dish in Melbourne and variation on what some would expect as a chicken dish, breaking the mould.
The Flora dishes also excited including Grilled peppers, romanesco, cheese, once again with welcome spicy kick, and the umami bliss dish of Tomatoes, Vegemite dressing, red onion (with its freshness, seasonal perfection and brilliant innovation of salty Vegemite).
A crowd pleaser is the Potato Gems, Gin salt, British Fish & Chip Shop Curry Sauce, a nod to the British Fish and chips scene. Comfort food at its best it's a playful and moreish dish with crunch of gems and the addictive excellence of the tangy curry sauce. Simple but brilliant. The gems also absorb some of the sauce which is a pleasure in itself.
Puddings also hit the high notes reinforcing the British culinary theme; leave your calorie counter at the door. Eton Mess Pav Roll with Basil Ice Cream is a nod to both Australia and Britain. We love an Eton Mess and this was a tasty rendition.
My personal favourite was the Apricot "Bakewell Tart", Rice Pudding, and Parsnip Ice Cream. The tart is a decent portion with first class fruit, excellence of pastry and indulgent rice pudding and parsnip ice cream. Parsnip ice cream is not something we normally encounter and it was unique, delicious and fun (which sums up Crofter). Service here is top notch and engaging, certainly a "crack" team.
Crofter Dining Room and Bar is a labour of love for Matt Wilkinson and a fabulous addition to the Melbourne foodie scene. Highly recommended.