Cafes and Restaurants » Melbourne Restaurants » St Kilda Cafes
Since moving on from Outpost, Paul Jewson has been a busy man. I’ve seen him in the kitchen at St Ali, he’s been working at St Ali in London and turns out he’s and partner Marco Pulagni have been turning the Waldorf in St Kilda into the beautifully rendered Fitzrovia. At 155 Fitzroy St, it’s just near the newly opened Golden Fields, Baker d Chirico and Miss Jackson in what’s becoming a fine-food hotspot.
I’ve long been a fan of Paul Jewson’s food. It ticks all my boxes (I don’t really have boxes to tick), it’s generous, has big flavours and is always seasonal. It’s hard to say what the plan is, but when we dropped in on Sunday the daytime menu was poorly printed on the dodgy computer printer. We were told it was “temporary”, but I’m not so sure it was, not in the sense that it will ever be “fixed” anyway. It was the same at Outpost and the ever-changing menu works perfectly, especially when the food has this sense of style. I just wish they’d get a good printer.
The dinner menu, though, is a far more refined affair in presentation and substance.
The restaurant comprises 2 separate areas. At the front, a 2 level, minimally lit, glass atrium, perfect for breakfast or brunch and come evening a perfect place for a pre-dinner aperitif or glass of wine. The dining room is a more traditional dining area with a huge open doorway into the kitchen. Currently the walls are sparse, but trimmings are coming and it won’t take much to turn it to a understated, classic dining room.
The kitchen itself is somewhat of a feature, it has a huge marble-topped island table crowned by a rustic, hanging pot rack. It doesn’t have the carefully manicured design of Outpost, but it is far more functional and will provide a great vibe on a busy night.
The 2 brunch dishes we had were sticky lamb ribs on a smoked corn salad and scrambled eggs with bacon and tomatoes. The ribs were in the no-fork-required territory with the sauce overpowering the flavour of the meat. The scrambled eggs were as good as they get, endless folds of soft, rich egg with a tomato chutney with a nicely balanced tang. The chutney was so good that I ended up eating the last of it on toast.You should follow me on Twitter.
It’s been open a couple of weeks now, and I managed to drop in before a gig at the Palais. Golden Fields is McConnell’s latest outpost – it’s pretty much a reinterpretation of Cumulus, with a Chinese twist. In fact, it’s so close to Cumulus I feel a little deflated.
The food is great and the service sparkling, but it is a little too similar to what has come before it.
The menu borrows some of the very best from Cumulus and Cutler & Co. The lamb shoulder appears similar though it is spiced with cumin seeds (though I didn’t actually try it). The pork buns are straight off the Cutler bar menu, they are as amazing as ever and the fried prawns and pork tail are very similar to a blend of 2 Cumulus dishes that have since been retired. The similarities don’t end there, the interior design is straight from the same playbook: white tiles, big bars, open kitchens and coat hooks. It’s good but not ground breaking.
The menu works well, as you’d expect. The feature of McConnell’s cooking and menu construction is that each dish is simple yet effective. The way you order a variety of dishes builds all the complexity you want. The beef belly and rump was brilliant, subtle flavours and awesome textures. The shredded cabbage and Moreton Bay bug salad is so simple it’s brilliant.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, the food rocks and I’ll be back. I’d suggest that the menu will evolve and grow into its own skin. I hope next time, I won’t just be thinking how much like Cumulus it is.You should follow me on Twitter.
Every time I’m on my way to Miss Jackson all I can think about is that song, “I’m sorry Miss Jackson, I am for real” it’s really annoying because I should be thinking how Miss Jackson is going to help me from my hangover, you know, for real. After watching the film clip, now I’m going to expect someone to be washing their pimped out car out the front and dogs nodding their heads at me as I walk up Gray St. All of this and no hallucinogens.
Wedged down an alley between halfway houses, backpacker travel agents and a few seedy nightclubs, Miss Jackson is a shining beacon of class in an otherwise classless (apologies to the Melbourne Wine Room, none such to the ever-so-trashy George lane-way bar) area. The café itself is a converted house that reminds me more of a rabbit warren than a café, the smaller nooks don’t quite fit the tables that they contain. It’s nowhere near as cramped as Wall 280 in Balaclava and there it adds “character”. Nonetheless the place has character and the larger communal tables are comfortable and spacious. There’s also an outdoor area, which thankfully parents seem to utilise to entertain their wild children.
The menu is everything you would expect without being outstanding. Corn fritters, steak sandwiches, and eggs every which way. But what the menu lacks in excitement it makes up with in the execution. While you might cook everything on the menu at home, it simply won’t be as good.
The portions are great, the food looks amazing and best of all it tastes spot on. In fact, of all the cafés around, Miss Jackson is my favourite for a comforting, hangover curing breakfast – morning or afternoon. Perhaps this is cause of a subtle focus on booze. There is beer and wine on the menu and a few bottles of spirits peeking out from behind the bar – important for my personal favourite menu item.
The “superstar DJ” bloody mary is everything you could want in this breakfast cocktail – good spice and acidity and a healthy sprig of celery. A bloody mary is tricky to get right at the best of times and they come out with amazing consistency.
The guys that run this place (Steve and Matt) are clearly drinkers – it shows – they know what’s good for you.Twitter.