Friday, August 15, 2008

The Swiss Club

It’s a rare experience to go out for a casual meal and have a thoroughly delightful evening so I’m glad to be able to report that is just what happened to me at the Swiss Club at 89 Flinders Lane last night.
As I climbed the tired carpeted stairs to this 1st floor restaurant I had no great expectations.
The restaurant is in a long wide room decorated with lots of symbols of its Swiss background – cowbells and so forth, with a background Swiss music. I felt like yodeling!
They have banquettes that would seat about 8 and smaller cloth covered tables further into the room. It has a sort of chalet ski clubby atmosphere.The menu is very Austrian/Swiss/German oriented with a few specials on a small blackboard. The entrees are more eclectic including snails, scallops, prawns in a light mango sauce with rice as well as fleishkase – meatloaf, wurstsalat – sausage salad, Swiss Caesar salad with air dried beef, bundnerteller – air dried beef, a variety of meats with rosti and quite a few more. We chose scallops in lemon butter sauce. Lightly cooked and simply presented they were very good, A dozen snails in a garlic curry sauce which were also accompanied by a small tower of rice were a pleasure. Only slightly chewy the sauce matched them beautifully. There are about 20 main courses available as well as having entrees as mains. They include a variety of steaks, chicken, duck and more typical Swiss fare such as pork schnitzel emmenthal, smoked lamb cutlets in honey sauce, venison with spatzli and red cabbage and calves liver and bacon in Madeira sauce and last thing on the menu - fondue, minimum two people $19.90 / head. I know no where else in Melbourne with fondue on the menu. Meat fondue is too dangerous for occupation health and safety reasons BUT cheese fondue is another matter and what a great dish it is. First a large bowl of pre cut bread arrives, then a burner to keep the cheese hot and finally a large bowl of hot melted cheese which had some white wine to thin it and give it better taste. Easily big enough to serve three or four, it’s a meal to bring back memories of Switzerland. I also ordered a beer roasted eisbein – a pork hock with spatzli and red cabbage. This classical dish is a particular favourite of mine. The hock could have been slow cooked for longer to make it more tender but it was quite well done, the red cabbage was a little dry but the spatzli was perfect. A huge bowl of crunchy chips (Patroni potatoes), also went well when dipped in the hot cheese. We finished the meal with apple strudel and a pear tart both served with cream, ice cream and a little cut fruit.
The girls serving did not strike me as very professional but they were very obliging, friendly and helpful. Wines are inexpensive by the glass or the bottle and there is a range of very reasonably priced beers. We had a very pleasant Broken Gate 2005 Shiraz. So what made it such an enjoyable night? The answer lies in the Chef/Host/Owner Roger Moullet. About 9.30 he began to circulate around the room chatting to diners at all the tables. He is jovial, informative enthusiastic, even after 11 years seems to love all that he does. This is a huge asset and turned a good night into a thoroughly delightful night.The club is open for lunch on weekdays and dinner Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays
Score: /1420


neil said...

How did you fit all that in? The fondue is practically enough on its own! I spent more nights here in the eighties than I care to remember. You're right, it is very clubby, but in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Neil
There were three of us but it was too much to eat, the fondu alone would have been enough and, though we tried hard we couldn't finish it all!

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