Food adventure @ Aspro Ble
Aspro Ble has been thrown around as a restaurant suggestion for a few times now and each time without fail, my mind has wondered about the proper pronunciation of the ‘Ble’. These thoughts were finally put to rest when Dr. Animal Whisperer decided on Aspro Ble as the setting for her going away dinner. So here it is: the ‘ble’ is pronounced as blee and not as I have incorrectly done so in the past, BLEGH!
Greek for white and blue, Aspro Ble’s cute interior literally embodies its name: blue and white decor, furniture and dining ware! With all things blue and white, was our food also going to come out in blue and white? Thankfully not. Seating is quite limited in the cosy space and given the restaurant’s popularity, book ahead to avoid disappointments.
Calamari and prawn dumplings - in a creamy caper and dill sauce.
This needs to be said up front: the dumplings are a must-order! A pillowy soft prawn and calamari filling, encased in a crispy and fried dumpling shell, and doused in what could only be described as a creamy, pickled onion-less filet o fish-like sauce. Two plates were ordered to allow for one dumpling each but one was simply not enough! I had to take smaller bites to savour the tasty flavours for longer.
Tenderised calamari - with a side of spicy aioli.
The tenderised description was spot on! Not at all chewy and perhaps the most tender in texture I have ever come across in calamari.
Crispy chat potatoes - with olive oil, lemon & oregano.
With so many great dishes on the menu, the potatoes paled in comparison. While they were not bad, they did not create any lasting memories.
Creamy cauliflower & oregano gratin - oven baked with a Kasseri cheese crust.
Super creamy and cheesy, you can’t go wrong with this combination! The Kasseri cheese was quite salty and complemented the herbed oregano flavour. The cauliflower pieces and mash was very well-cooked and soft. The gratin is another must-order dish. As a child from an Asian family, all I wanted to do was order a bowl of rice to mix it with the gratin and then make a meal out of it (with a side of dumplings!)
Roast pork fillet - with caramelised onion suce, vanilla infused mash and fresh broad beans.
The roast pork was very tender and possessed a slight sweet sort of savory glaze. The onion relish sauce provided another element of sweet-savory. As for the mash, WOW! They weren’t kidding about the vanilla infusion; the vanilla flavour was quite potent. But in its own way, the vanilla mash combination actually worked.
Slow roasted lamb - with a garlic yoghurt dressing.
As a non-lamb enthusiast, I steered clear of the lamb until deciding to try a tiny bite towards the end. The lamb was very tender thanks to the slow roast process and didn’t taste like lamb. It could have passed for beef or pork! The garlic yoghurt was a perfect match and its tatziki-like flavour provided some tang to the lamb.
Seafood youvetsi - fresh seafood and kritharaki pasta.
The dish looked and was quite similar to paella. Full of fresh flavours and very filling.
Lightly caramelised rice pudding - with baked quince & spice infused poached pear.
Of the three desserts on Aspro Ble’s menu, I would have never pegged the rice pudding as the best tasting one. I was wrong! It was very tasty and tasted quite similar to a light creme brulee with a rice pudding texture.
Homemade baclava - with walnuts and honey, wood fire oven-baked.
Although the baclava was the star of the dish, it was the halva ice cream that won me over. The tahini and sesame flavour was quite light and not too sweet: perfect after a heavy meal. Too bad the ice cream doesn’t come on its own!
Loukoumades (Greek donuts) - with honey and walnuts.
It was the donuts that I had looked forward to the most out of the dessert selections but the real deal didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The donuts were served warm and fresh. Lovely wafts of cinnamon filled our nostrils as soon as the plate was placed onto our table. While the donut was perfect in texture, it was plain-tasting and probably would have tasted better if it had been filled with jam. Instead the donuts sat in a pool of honey and were accompanied with a dollop of sour natural yoghurt+ raspberry coulis.
I have only eaten at a handful of Greek restaurants in Melbourne (not even) but it’s the charming Aspro Ble that has easily taken out the top spot for favourite Greek restaurant. They take Greek dining a notch further than the typical souvlaki and offer plenty of tasty dishes in replacement. To reiterate, the dumplings and the gratin are a must!
389 Lonsdale St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9602 4444