In case you missed the furor in the blogosphere, George Calombris took a swipe at food bloggers recently in the Herald Sun. So I was a little apprehensive about how I’d be received at his flagship restaurant The Press Club with my camera and notebook in hand and very apprehensive about the consequences if I gave the restaurant a NOT rating.
Luckily for me and Mr Calombris, I very much enjoyed my meal at The Press Club. Let me just get one thing out of the way first – it’s expensive. It’s a fine dining, special occasion restaurant. So once you’ve balked at the prices, sit back and enjoy a most imaginative and colourful journey of Greek-inspired dishes.
The Jetsetting Parents and I started off sharing two small dishes – inspirations from land and sea, Mykonos to the Mainland ($29.90) and calamari makaronatha, cauliflower cream and croutons, shaved avgotaraho ($27.90). The fancy version of surf ‘n’ turf was reminiscent of ‘Sounds of the Sea’ at The Fat Duck and was particularly impressive – an artist’s palette of contrasts, from the pink of the melt-in-the-mouth lamb ham, sprigs of edible flowers, black mussels to puffs of white ouzo foam, all served on a slab of unhewn timber. The dish was exciting and stimulating in its array of textures, colours and flavours and a real crowd-pleaser. The calamari, while very tender and velvety with the cauliflower cream, paled into insignificance by comparison. The inspirations were the belle of the ball, the calamari the wallflower.
From the large dishes we chose the kleftiko of duck and quince, village bread marinated in horiatiki ($39), pikilia of mushrooms, gemista and mousaka ($34) and the baby snapper fish of the day ($45). My duck was a rich concoction of meatiness and sweetness, and my mouthfuls were frequently punctuated by the unexpected texture of soaked bread, like a very spongy tofu. The pikilia was essentially earthy mushrooms cooked five ways and again creatively presented on a slab of timber. The fish of the day was served with an assortment of colourful side dishes, all of which were unfamiliar to us but I’m told combined with the fish in contrasting and delicious ways.
Overall, we were all very impressed with the food. Each dish tickled and challenged our eyes and our taste buds, and my Mum departed the restaurant with the ultimate endorsement – “We can go back again, there’s so much other food on the menu to try”.