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2013 is here, which means the time to bid adieu (or rather say antio sas) to George Calambaris’ The Press Club will soon be upon us when the two-hatted establishment closes its doors in March to make way for a new venture. Moving up on my to-visit list and with Laiwah back in town, we decided to schedule a dinner date at The Press Club, with Wak also joining us.
I was captivated by the elegance and ambience of The Press Club from the very moment I first laid eyes on the venue’s exterior all the way through to the second we left the restaurant. The decor featured rich, wooden tones that sharply contrasted with the formal-looking, white cloth-covered tables and black in the seats and floor. The simplicity in the table setting compounded the elegant feel and allowed the decor to do its job to its full extent without distraction.
Both the natural lighting that streamed in through the large windows and the dimmer yellow glow from the low-hanging lights worked wonders with the interior decor. With our table practically aligned with the kitchen area, the bright lighting and flurry of activity from the kitchen area often caught our attention when we weren’t occupied with conversation.
Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2008.
Going by Wak’s “bloody awesome” comment and the “mmmmm” from Laiwah, the wine drinkers both enjoyed the shiraz immensely. They noted that the wine went down very smoothly and had a nice body.
Lemon lime bitter for the non wine drinker (puts hand up).
Complimentary bread - wholemeal bun and fennel seed bread, with salted cod roe in butter.
The bread was fresh and both bread types possessed a crispy crust and a powdery floured layer. The salty cod roe flavour was quite potent and clashed with the sourdough taste in the wholemeal bun. On the other hand, the butter complemented the fennel flavour perfectly.
Greek salad - capsicum terrine, heirloom tomato, kalamata, black garlic, feta ice cream and tomato jelly.
When it comes to The Press Club’s innovative take on the Greek Salad, expect familiar flavours in a quirky but very enjoyable form. The capsicum terrine and tomatoes were quite sweet while the sauce brought to the dish a salty olive taste. The crunchy specks of black kalamata (we thought it was pepper!) provided another element of salty, olive flavour. The feta ice cream stood out as the most peculiar - cream cheese/greek yoghurt with a sharp and cold sorbet texture. The sourness from the ice cream helped pull together the sweetness and saltiness from the other elements.
Quail - buttermilk brined breast, spring peas, shimeji, and smoked oats.
Staring at the above photos of the quail has a figurative puddle of drool forming on my keyboard. On the night itself, the dish had me salivating in anticipation even before I laid eyes on the dish; our olfactory senses were greeted with the smell of fried goodness from afar. The quail was perfectly cooked: its thin layer of skin was crispy while the interior was super tender and juicy. It was without a doubt the tastiest and best-cooked piece of quail I have tried to date. The accompanying greens, with the pea puree and mint standing out in particular, did well to balance out the fried component in the dish.
Barramundi - kalaboki, baby courgette, sweet corn fermented garlic, and smear of carrot. Topped with a corn+celery foam.
Despite not being the biggest fan of fish, I’ve had more fish at restaurants in the past year than any other year. And without mum forcing it onto my plate! Quite surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve encountered a bad fish dish and the WA barramundi from The Press Club was no exception. The skin was fried to a crispy perfection, the slight saltiness and EVEN the subtle fishiness in the skin was tasty. The flesh itself was silky and tender, to such an extent that you could probably swallow the pieces whole! (Not that you would because that would mean not experiencing the flavours.) The accompanying veggies were quite sweet and enhanced the sweetness of the fish.
Supplementary dish - black truffle, kritharaki, and crispy wing.
The extra $25 that we each spent on the supplementary dish was $25 well spent! The mushroom flavour was instant and not surprisingly, complemented the shaved black truffle pieces, the tender pieces of chicken and the rice/risotto-like kritharaki pasta. The rich and aromatic flavours make this dish a must-order!
Pork - fassolakia of Bangalow loin, crispy bits, plum, and Krokos Kozani.
Opting for the pork main instead of lamb thanks to my inability to enjoy lamb, it seems I may have made the wrong call… While the seared pork loin was well-cooked and tender enough, I did not enjoy the flavours; the plum sauce seemed to clash with the pork. The confit pork shoulder, wrapped in a chiko-like roll, was slightly more enjoyable thanks to the presence of the crispy skin that resembled a thin layer of crackling.
Lamb - Best end, bastourma of the breast, melitzano, tyrokafteri, and hazelnut.
The other two were big fans of the lamb main and even labelled the lamb as the best dish of the night. Laiwah liked the blend of Middle Eastern flavours with the lamb.
Strawberry - [their] bougatsa, caramelised phyllo, and sweetened milk (strawberry ice cream, fresh berries and strawberry powder)
KA-BLAM! The strawberry ice cream possessed an amazing explosion of berry flavour. It reminded me of frozen yoghurt, only creamier and smoother. The encounter with the foam before the ice cream intrigued my palate. There was a significant contrast between the textures of the freeze-dried and fresh pieces of berry. The crumbed phyllo pieces, which exuded a subtle honey taste, provided the ice cream with a sugary crunch. The Strawberry is a great dessert to order if you’re feeling full - light but full of refreshing flavours!
Souffle - plum, nectarine, white chocolate, and vanilla ice cream.
We decided to fork out extra for the souffle to share between the three of us since the description had sounded so great. We knew we had made the right call when we spotted a waiter walking past our table en route to another table with the scrumptious-looking dessert. The souffle was super light and fluffy, the sour plum flavour was quite prominent. It was practically a plum that had undergone a transformation to become a souffle! The accompanying fruits were quite sour and similar to the strawberry dessert, there was a clear distinction between the freeze-dried and fresh components. The biscuit clumps provided some crunch and its sweetness helped balance out the sourness.
After an excellent dining experience at The Press Club, it makes me feel a little sad to think that my taste buds have been deprived of their tasty and modern take on traditional Greek cuisine for so long. On the other hand, March is still a little while away, which is enough time to make another booking…
The Press Club
72 Flinders St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9677 9677