The Press Club, Melbourne

Those of you who have been reading along will know that my partner Ash whisked me away to Melbourne for Valentines. (So romantic right?) Dining at The Press Club was the highlight of the trip.

We walked into and sat down at the Little Press & Cellar by mistake, being right next to our intended destination. A rookie mistake but a waitress ushers us to where we want to be. Owned by George Couloumbaris, famous from Masterchef Australia, there was no sign of George anywhere but the head chef was present to oversee things. During lunch hour, The Press Club is inundated by businesspeople discussing ideas. 

Head chef reporting for duty but where is George?

Spacing between tables is too close in my opinion, at an adjacent table I heard every word of the conversation and diagonally from us, a stern looking gentleman in a suit said to his dining partners “We need more revenue.” Agreed, more of it is generally needed. Eavesdropping aside, the business lunch menu is $38 pp for two courses or $45 pp for three courses. Naturally we’re going to select the latter.

Olive bread w/ taramasalata butter
White bread

The taramasalata butter is made with smoked cod roe and whipped butter, it was very salty and possessed a light, airy mousse-like texture, I found the olive bread salty but it’s Ash’s favourite and I actually kept eating it. At that moment I could just picture George explaining how the bread contained the perfect level of saltiness to encourage saliva production because I’m salivating as I’m smearing piece after piece of bread with the lovely butter.

A selection of mezethes (small savoury appetizers): Lamb ham and lamb bresaola, chicken liver parfait, cherry jam and cranberry biscotti

With every course our lovely waiter or waitress explained every component of the dish, for my mezethes I was just told I had ‘cured meat’ it looked and tasted like ham, so it was to my surprise that when I overheard from another table it was in fact lamb. The tart cherry jam complemented the rich, creamy parfait, perfect to dip the wafer-thin biscotti into. Our waitress intuitively offers us more bread to have with the remaining parfait and also provided another serving of the fluffy taramasalata butter, and surprisingly at no extra charge.

Ouzo cured salmon, fennel, watercress, white lemon, nicola potato
Ouzo cured salmon, fennel, watercress, white lemon, nicola potato

The salmon had the slightest ouzo flavouring, it was enjoyed with the shaved fennel salad and diminutive scoops of boiled potato.

Beef blade, white bean skordalia and green beans

A cracker of a dish, Ash’s choice of main the braised beef blade, falls apart by the fork I cannot figure out what the braising liquid comprised of but it delivered. Served with a silky smooth, garlicky white bean skordalia, the green beans and slivered almonds provided some textural crunch.

Psari (Greek for fish) of the day, pearl barley, scallop risotto

The psari of the day was a succulent slice of swordfish which was incredibly moist, I read this menu item as a risotto with scallops, in actuality there was only one miserly scallop chopped up into four tiny pieces. It just seemed unnecessary to quarter a single scallop, why bother including it in the title of the dish if it hardly features in it at all? Perhaps they were running low on stock the day after Valentines?

Panna cotta, mastic
Rosey panna cotta 

The panna cotta was heavily rose scented and the texture was not as firm as traditional panna cotta, the loukoumades (greek doughnut) was chewy which is a bit of a let down but the strawberry ice cream, stewed strawberries and strawberry mastic were delightful.

Chocolate olive oil mousse – banana bread, dark chocolate olive oil mousse w/ caramel powder

The quenelles of chocolate mousse felt like silky clouds on the tongue, the combination of dark chocolate and olive oil worked well together with the olive oil lending a wonderful depth of flavour, fragrant banana bread, miniature choc-malt balls and a sprinkling of caramel powder made this a wonderful finish to the meal.

The food included in the business lunch wasn’t spectacular and the portions were insufficient however the sophisticated dining space, lovely service and appetising food still made the experience worthwhile.

We almost had to stay an extra night in Melbourne because Tiger airways had delayed our flight. Sydney airport has a curfew past 11pm, the flight takes roughly an hour and a half and we still hadn’t left the tarmac at 9:50pm. Airlines are fined a maximum of $550,000 and I’d seen so many episodes of Airways to know that Tiger Airways in Australia have a very discouraging statistic of cancelled flights. Fortunately it went ahead and amazingly we arrived at Sydney airport at 10:55pm. What a dramatic day!

The Press Club on Urbanspoon

Opening hours:

Mon – Sun 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm

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