May 7, 2013 Leave a comment
A Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Event
“Pub (pʌb) [noun] a public house or building with a bar and one or more public rooms licensed for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, often also providing light meals.
The pub use to be a place of solitude for men to drink and chat about the agony of life. This public house was welcome to all, but because of its charm (or shall we say, lack off) it became the perfect man cave. It was a mystical place where wives rarely stepped inside and men of all type drank beer and bonded. There was a sense of community with only two beers on tap. These days, the majority of pubs have transform from less grunge to more chic. The gastropub is not only equipped with an impressive kitchen team, but also carefully considered decor, layout and furniture to bring a modern and dazzling experience to its patrons. The Post Office Hotel is one such pub that is making its mark in Coburg. We decided to bring a few friends to try their Express Lunch.
The interior of The Post Office Hotel is simply stunning. The combination of the bare brick walls, industrial wires hanging from the vertical landscape and the ceiling providing ample natural light through its windows in the sky, bring a calm and sophisticated feel. With the high ceiling and seating opportunities, The Post Office Hotel caters for various occasions whilst still creating that wow moment.
Ordering an Express Lunch here can be tricky, as there is always a trade-off. Do I forgo the entree for dessert or do I have the entree instead? The dessert looked very promising and I decided on a main and dessert:
- Main – Broccoli risotto, thyme & fonlina
- Dessert - Bris de bourguignon, house made jam & Taylor made lavosh
As the usual way of business, entrees came out first with NR having the Roasted baby beets, shaved cauliflower, mustard cress and pine nuts. The beets had been roasted perfectly leaving a lovely, gentle taste on the palate. The pine nuts were a perfect addition to the salad. The interesting component here was the cauliflower, which NR thought was unnecessary and conversely, I really enjoyed. The subtle bitterness that cauliflower provided reduced the sweet taste of the beetroot.
My risotto came out and it didn’t look as appealing as Miss SLs main. On paper, risotto appears to be one of the easiest items to prepare and cook. Having failed on many occasions, I can confidently say it’s the final execution that makes this dish a winner or a loser. The risotto itself was prepared perfectly and was light and fluffy on the outside with a slight crunch on the inside. The broccoli sauce was nice and creamy and it brought the dish together. In terms of flavour, it was very subtle and possibly on the verge of boring. It unfortunately lacked that wow factor and the snow pea leaves thrown on the top didn’t help.
I love the idea of finish sitting with sugar, but decided that my dessert of choice on this occasion would be of the cheese kind.
The Bris de bourguignon was fantastic. It was a semi-soft cheese that melted in my mouth. I found it was perfect on its own, with the lavosh or when I tried it with the house made jam. The jam was of the right sweetness and texture to easy be scooped up without making a mess, leaving a pleasant aftertaste. It was the perfect dish that was shared by all and everyone agreed it was the perfect cheese dish to finish the sitting.
The Post Office Hotel Express Lunch certainly showed moments of greatness and demonstrated top potential in delivering high quality dishes. It’s always hard to gauge a restaurant from just six dishes, but I do feel that with time The Post Office Hotel will be a high achiever.
“This post is admittedly months behind schedule, with the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival winding up quite a while ago. Our Express Lunch at The Post Office Hotel, however, was far too good to skip in our review process.
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when me, Mr LB and co arrived at our destination in time for the late-brunch sitting at 1pm. I pulled up out the front and walked along Sydney road, immediately noticing some inviting, street-facing benches outside the venue. There are two entrances – one to the left (the proper entrance) and one to the right (the bar entrance). Typical me went to the wrong entrance first, eventually feeling my way to the correct one.
The design of the formal entrance to the dining area immediately allured me with its exposed bare bricks and hints of an exciting interior decor. Sure enough, once I stepped into the main space, the feeling of excitement increased as I was welcomed into the beautiful space of The Post Office Hotel.
Exposed walls and ceiling beams, spotlight lights over the kitchen and beautiful timber tables and chairs created a really spacious and open atmosphere that was both elegant and casual. The vibe from the venue instantly lifted my mood.
It was time to get munching though and I was careful to peruse the specially designed menu. As tempting as the entrees were, I opted for a main and dessert combination. Who could go passed Braised Victorian lamb shoulder with potatoes, olives and anchovy and an Orange and vanilla brûlée with amaretto biscuits?
Entrees came out first and I instead enjoyed my Stone Dweller Riesling. NR kindly let me sample her entree of Roasted baby beets, shaved cauliflower, mustard cress and pine nuts. The first thing I noticed about this dish was how beautifully aromatic it was. The scent of fresh beetroot mixed with balsamic vinegar mixed with pine nuts was simply delicious. Although the cauliflower was shaved, it actually had quite a strong presence in the overall dish. I thought it was beautifully executed, and NR felt that it was really fresh and well-balanced.
Next out was mains and my braised lamb looked really interesting. They were cut with a cookie cutter into a circular shape and served on a bed of olives mixed with anchovies and potato. As I sliced through the lamb it revealed itself tender, gently pulling away from the main body of meat. It was cooked simply and the combination of the meat with the perfectly cooked potatoes resulted in a homely, hearty meal.
Dessert was next was next and when my brûlée came out I couldn’t help but squeal in delight. The amaretto biscuits were simply beautifully crafted – crisp and crunchy, the flavour of amaretto and almond traveled all the way through this little delight.
My creme brûlée was deep and the top of it was perfectly seared, creating a caramel layer that made a clinking sound when I gently tapped it with a spoon. As I cracked through the layers, everyone at the table gasped in anticipation of first bites. My spoon went through the brûlée like it were made of silk, and it held its form beautifully – not too thick and not too runny. Hints of vanilla bean specked the brûlée, heightening my sense of anticipation. Everyone was holding their breath as I raised my spoon. The gentle yet immersed flavour of orange blossom immediately washed over my palate as shards of toffee gently disintegrated on my tongue. This was delicious and too good not to share. It was rich and creamy, yet the combination of the amaretto biscuits helped to harmonise the dish and protect the brûlée from becoming too much to handle. Everyone at the table enjoyed this dish.
The Post Office Hotel has a beautifully sophisticated yet down-played interior design. The service from the staff was excellent and the whole environment in general gave way to a relaxed, afternoon dining experience. I really enjoyed my experience here and am actively thinking about when I shall next return.”
Final thought: “Killer orange and vanilla brûlée“