Appetite [noun]: a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food.
Melbourne has a large and healthy appetite for all things dining and drinks. Some ‘industry experts’ have suggested that Melbournians don’t need another restaurant, food stand, food truck, pop-up or bar. Instead, we are hungry for a new dining experience. The proposition that food and drinks is predominately an experience based is a valid argument, however new interpretation of food and how it’s served does question and change preconceived ideals. The most significant food shake up for 2014 has to be Southgate. Whilst being home to some long standing greats (including Red Emperor & Tutto Bene) the injection of new restaurants has certainly made us here at The Modern Connoisseur think twice about Southgate.
With the number of new restaurants making their mark in Southgate, how does one decide which restaurant to attend? Well, you don’t have to! Introducing the Southgate Moveable Feast. Occurring every Sunday lunch and Monday dinner until August 4, guests will be able to sample an entree, main and dessert (matched with a wine and desert served with tea or coffee) at three different restaurants. It is the perfect way to sample and test the new waters to find what you like for further exploration.
In association with Southgate and Fuller PR, The Modern Connoisseur and a few other happy food bloggers recently took on this adventure.
ARTUSI is the latest restaurant to land in Southgate, offering Italian tapas, wine bar and exceptional menu of entrees, mains and desserts. ARTUSI is brought to life by the owners of Southgate’s long established Tutto Bene (Luis Pampliega and Tamara Volkoff). The decor is clean and vibrant with highlights of metallic bronze adding life to the minimalist background.
Overlooking the Yarra, ARTUSI is serious when it comes to Italian cuisine – handmade pastas, in-house woodfire oven and high quality produce. Its the old meets new at ARTUSI, as Head Chef Leandro Panza explains, “The ARTUSI menu offers a contemporary twist to traditional Italian ingredients – for example our pancia di maiale al vincotto insalate is prepared with woodfired Berkshire pork belly, pomelo, endive slaw, chilli, colatura di Alici (anchovy water). This dish mixes traditional Italian ingredients with more international flavours such as pomelo, ginger and whitlof giving the dish a fresh lift,”.
The pancia di maiale al vincotto (wood roasted berkshire pork belly, pomelo, endive slaw, chili, colatura di Alici) was a favourite among dinners. Thinly sliced and topped with a complex salad/slaw created an interesting combination of fatty meat flavours of the pork belly with citrus hits of grape fruit.
Taking a strong interest in offal this winter, lingua di bu (slow cooked ox tongue, quail eggs, sasla verde, lemon EVOO) was an excellent and well executed dish. Beautifully plated with its contrast of colours and curiosity, the flavours didn’t disappoint. The tongue was soft and lean and left a lovely crisp taste. The combination of soft and hard boil quail eggs and salsa verde were great addition and shined on its own.
Amarok Bar & Restaurant
The next stop in our Moveable Feast was Amarok Bar & Restaurant, a stark contrast from our entree. Amarok (the Inuit mythology of a gigantic wolf who would target anyone who would hunt alone at night) offers dinners with an inspired indigenous menu, taking inspiration from Canada and Northern America. The restaurant space has a cabin like feel (ideal for those winter days) as diners snuggle around tables and communal benches; taking in the open fire and various decor items.
Not to be over looked, Amarok also offers Melbourne’s second Ice bar in Melbourne – a fun experience after a couple of drinks.
The menu is based on Indigenous cooking principles and is crafted by Corey Stephens – native Maori from Te Awamutu in New Zealand’s North Island – who hails 30 years’ of cooking experience from around the world. Think various poaching techniques combined with native ingredients.
“So many key flavours found in North America play a part in our menu, such as the Sierra Nevada Stout, Pine Needle and Acorn Roasted Chicken Breast and the Sirloin served with a wrapped berry and sour cream baked potato,” explains Stephens.
The Sierra Nevada Strout, Pine Needle & Acorn Roasted Chicken Breast with a Turnip/Blue Cheese Potato Bake, Veg & Marsala Jus looked very appealing in its presentation, however whilst being well cooked (the breast was moist and the cheese and potato bake deliciously warming), the flavours were difficult to identify.
The Poach Baked Salmon in Corn Mead with Lemon, Fresh Herb & Grape Quinoa Salad wins points for being moist and flavorsome, however the salmon left a strong oil aftertaste. The dish was filling and satisfying, however, yet again the flavours were a little disjointed and didn’t come together as expected.
Our last stop for dessert was at the newly located and revamped Bluetrain. Moving to the upper level has allowed for the restaurant to modernise not only its decor but also its menu. New head chef Jay Sinclair has taken over the reins, offering a forward-thinking approach with the menu, noting the challenges of offering a menu which caters from 8 to 80 people.
“We feel like we’ve brought together both an accessible and exciting menu with varied dishes like steamed pork buns, soft shell tacos, twice cooked spare ribs and Japanese and Middle Eastern style salads” says Sinclair.
The design consist of a nice balance of electric and comforting vibe. Its huge high ceiling provides plenty of quirk and meaning behind what it means to dine at Bluetrain, giving hints to its Melbourne identity. It consists of a combination of industrial and artistic inspiration, and for the most part blending together in an interesting manner that explores Melbourne’s interplay of industrialism and art. The very end of the dining room provides a tighter space, drawing inspiration of being a typical Melbourne alleyway with an inspirational quote in neon lights.
After some slight confusion with the menu, the proper dessert menu certainly pulled out all the stops as a finale. Selecting dessert was certainly hard given the choices on offer.
The Shiraz Poached Pear was simply immaculately plated and well-constructed.
The Duo of Creme Brulee took a slightly deconstructed approach of with the two flavours of creme brulee (Chai Tea and New York cheesecake) arriving in separate glasses. The flavours were complemented with shortbread biscuits. The range of flavours was enjoyable and the right portion size to finish the feast.
Around the table, it was generally agreed that the Layered Childhood Memories was rightly the favorite. Consisting of layers of chocolate cake, roasted hazelnut & peanut salted caramel slice, fresh berries and milo ice-cream, it is seriously worth visiting Bluetrain just for this dish. It is that good! The chocolate layers combined with the hazelnuts and milo ice-cream is heavenly. This dish is not a single serve and is designed to be shared.
Southgate Moveable Feasts is not just ‘another meal event’. Instead of darting around the alleyways of Melbourne for an unique food experience, Southgate is the destination for well constructed and unique combination of dishes. Where-else can you get German, Inuit and Italian dishes under one roof?
The Modern Connoisseur dined as a guest of Southgate Moveable Feasts. All opinions and views are true and honest to the contributor’s experience.
More information about Southgate Moveable Feast and to purchase tickets, please click here. To plan ahead and identify the restaurants you want to visit, the Southgate Moveable Feast schedule can be found here.
Southgate Movable Feast operates on each Sunday for lunch and dinner for Monday until the 4 August. Sunday lunches commences at 12pm to approximately 3pm. Monday dinners commences at 7pm to approximately 10pm. Both sittings have two options: Option 1 is priced at $60 and option 2 is $85 per person. Both options include three courses across three different restaurants. Entrée and main courses are each served with a glass of wine. Dessert will be served with tea or coffee.