Thursday, July 08, 2010
Palace Hotel (South Melbourne) 07/2010
Palace is a name that invites entertaining superlatives headlines relating to royalty and things regal.Fit for a king and so on. Well you'll just have to go and see. The home of Luke Mangan's latest venture this refurbished gastropub serves "modern urban Australian food, whatever that means. The hotel is a peculiar curved shape with frontages on both City Rd and Pickles St. One passes the bar to enter the restaurant which was close to full on the Wednesday night we attended. The place was buzzing with diners in active, though bearably noisy, conversation. It occupies an odd shaped room, suitably decorated with several prints from Blackman's Alice in Wonderland series, depicting himself and his wife. Around two long wall there is soft cushioned seating facing bare wooden tables set with good cutlery and white linen napkins. In all a very good atmosphere. The waitress who served us was extremely well informed about the menu and the specials, of which there were quite a few.
Sandra started with a half a dozen oysters Kilpatrick ($20) followed by mushroom soup which was rich and creamy with lots of button mushrooms. The taste was unusually strong and I felt it might have been augmented with porchini powder. It was a very good soup. I had the crab omelette ($21)
which looked great topped with a mini Asian salad and miso mustard broth (are those enoki mushrooms really Asian?) but it was thoroughly over cooked making it a bit leathery. The crab flavour was quite fine but distinct and and I'd have it again. I had a second entree off the specials list. This was an salmon filled angelotti
with grilled prawns, tomato and asparagus. An outstanding bisque with superb prawn flavour arrived at the table after I'd eaten half the angelotti which only made it so much better. Passing my hand over a candle to pick up the sauce boat I promptly spilt half of it on the table. The staff cleaned the whole mess up very graciously. I had another excellent main course, a huge serve of fillet
on a truffle mash with cavallo nero. This was everything you would want from a fillet, extremely tender with gentle flavour. I don't think it is usual to get quite as big a serve as I had. Perhaps it was their last piece. Sandra had the duck a la orange. This lovely breast and leg were a bit light on orange
but we're extremely tender. It also came with a pleasant shiraz merlot blend glass of wine. To finish we had the dessert platter for two. Strawberries and cream, a rich hot chocolate fondant, a chocolate covered ice cream and an extremely fine creme brulle with almond biscotti. A very good meal and better than the average restaurant by far. A tribute to both Luke Mangan and his chef, who likes to be known as MJ.
One thing really annoyed me. I bought Mangans latest book, cover price US$35 for a rather extravagant $59 only to find it on sale for $45 at his RAW dinner with Guy Grossi at the Regent two days later! We hope to have more to say about that event very soon.