Aussie maverick chef, George Calombaris, is better known to Travel Channel viewers in the Asia-Pacific region as one of the judges on Masterchef Australia. His flagship restaurant, The Press Club, in downtown Melbourne has, more than a decade on, maintained its position as one of the city’s go-to places for fine dining.
Lunch is a quieter affair here, with its 10 gold-hued booth seats lending the place a retro-60s feel.
Started off with a Diotima (Oiemelo, Bourbon & peach).
The Press Club now offers a la carte options, but I opted for the lunch-time menu degustation. Started off with taramosalata, ouzo Yarra Valley caviar, and salt & vinegar loukoumades:
Tsoureki herb bread, black olive, vine leaf butter
This was followed by a cold soup with caramelised peaches:
Grilled octopus served atop tirokafteri (capsicum-feta puree), with olive oil and balsamic, yoghrt & black garlic. The octopus has been cooked sous-vide, before being grilled table-side. Melt-in-the-mouth tender.
Baked eggplant, served with wallaby meat. The eggplant was wrapped in vine leaves and grilled table-side, before it’s removed and returned to the kitchen for plating.
Flinders Island Lamb, Beetroot, Caramelised Black Olive:
Cape Grim beef cheek, Horta, Malted Tarama:
I skipped the dessert course (doctor’s orders) but had some pretty amusing petit fours which came with the bill - The Press Club referenced the Greek hobby of playing “tavli” (backgammon) as a social activity after a meal, in designing its petit fours: edible white & dark chocolate dice and backgammon pieces.
The Press Club
72 Flinders Street
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Tel: +61 3 9677 9677
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 12noon-3pm. Closed on Sundays.