72 Flinders St, Melbourne 3000
Friday night and the weekend’s here, we need to unwind where’s the party Mr. DJ?
And so began dinner for 6 girlfriends as a precursor for a big Friday night out in Melbourne. For those of you who don’t know, The Press Club is owned by chef George Calombaris (the short fat judge on MasterChef Australia).
I have to admit I was off to a bad start when I made the reservation (4 weeks in advance). I was told that there were two sittings, either 6.30 or 8.45. Although neither of these were ideal, I went with the early sitting. I was warned over the phone that we would need to arrive promptly as we would need to vacate the table by 8.30pm. This is a pet peeve of mine – if you’re planning on spending a substantial amount of money on food, then a 2 hour time limit is a bit harsh.
First impressions of the restaurant were good – the dining room was high spec, and the kitchen was fully open and even had a bar-style table for singles to dine at. We were sat in a corner seat with a great view of the rest of the restaurant, although have to say the mood lighting was dimmed to the point everyone struggled to read their menus.
By the time the whole table was seated and the waitress had come over to explain the menu, it was about 6.45. At that stage we were advised that the ‘Symposium degustation’ was probably not suitable for our time frame (bit disappointing) so we ordered a-la-carte. The waitress recommended the signature dishes – chicken for entrée and lamb for main. I have to admit I have never in my life ordered chicken in a fine dining restaurant, but I thought I should take the advice. And I was definitely glad that I did – it was the best chicken and rice I have ever had (or as George calls it, ‘Chicken – pastelaki of its wings, kritharaki, mytzithra snow’).
My friends also enjoyed entrees of ‘Tuna – raw, radish, pickle, watermelon, avgotaraho, flowers’ and ‘Prawns – domatosoupa, Kalamata olive sponge, young basil, kefalograviera crisp’.
But the mains – ela ria! Most of us opted for the signature lamb dish, slow cooked for 16 hours until unbelievably tender, served with ingenious miso moussaka. The serving was surprisingly large, and only one person was able to finish the 2 large pieces of lamb that came in each serve. We also ordered sides of Horiatiki greek salad; Charred sweet corn tossed with yoghurt cheese and toasted almonds; and beans with mint and feta. The only side I wouldn’t bother ordering was the fried potatoes (basically, about 8-10 hot chips served in a takeaway coffee cup).
Most of the wines on the list are Greek but we opted for the tried and trusted Australian varieties.
Although we were way too full to fit in dessert, I don’t think it was an option, as it would have taken us over the 8.30pm cut off mark. Overall great restaurant, fantastic food shame about the restrictive sitting policy.