Friday, August 20, 2010

St. Jude's Cellars (Fitzroy) 09 2010

I’ve been wanting to experience this restaurant for over a year but keep getting distracted and going to other venues but last week actually got there. It’s a very large open space restaurant with a long tiled bar down one side. The ware house like room with high ceilings is partially divided by tall wine racks with numbered compartments. Many of the bottles are standing.
Not an ideal way of keeping good wines at whatever the temperature of the room happens to be. The maitre de assured me that their turnover is so fast it really did not matter. Maybe but I’m sure some get left on the racks for years. They have a very good system for wine prices. As they are also a retail outlet they offer patrons wines at retail plus $15/ bottle. That’s equivalent to a corkage fee of $15. Most restaurants mark up wines by at least 50% so this is a much better deal for anything but the cheapest wines. This is a very modern style of restaurant. Very simply furnished. We were comfortably seated at a small rather bare table,
no frills. The place is quite utilitarian as demonstrated by the sign to the toilet.
We started with an entree of WA sardine fillets wrapped in pancetta with preserved lemon and herb stuffing $4.50. (each). They were flavoursome and, although the sardine taste was prominent, no element of the dish dominated. The second of the many entrees available, we had was filo wrapped baked goats cheese, beetroot, grapefruit, sesame & apple jam $14.50.
I tend towards meat, fish and birds but the possibilities for imaginative and good tasting vegetarian dishes are endless and this one surprised me. The best recommendation is that I'd happily have it again. The little cubes of grapefruit provided a complete contrast to the remainder of the dish. If you like goats cheese you'll love this well presented colourful entree. Caramelised eggplant, tofu and chickpea hotpot with chilli, coriander and labna $24.00, yes, another vegetarian dish!, was dominated by the chickpeas. I thought it was quite nice but a bit ordinary. The tofu was cut into small cubes changing it character so that it was fairly hard. I much prefer the silky smoothness of tofu but in this case you could not really identify this as tofu and its alter ego did not commend itself to me.
TeWestern Plains pork belly, pearl barley, braised red cabbage and grain mustard sauce $26.50, is a great dish.

From the crisp crackling to the contrasting cabbage and the rich and meltingly tender pork belly it could not have been better, If the jus soaking the pearl barley had been less salty the dish would have been perfect for me.

We finished our dinner with a pleasant dessert.

We found this a better than average inner suburban restaurant with a good selection of dishes and a good wine list.
Score: 14.25/20


Paul said...

They do a good breakfast there as well.

Ange said...

Have been meaning to try this too, the pork dish sounds like something I'd love & the vegetarian dish also looks a winner. Nice to meet you Satday night - Bye Age

Elliot said...

Hi Paul I rarely eat breakfast but who knows - one day.
Hi Ange
Good to meet you too. I'll go to St.J again it was very good and they have a good variety of dishes.
I entered your camera competition!

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