Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fitzrovia


Fitzrovia
155 Fitzroy St
St Kilda, VIC 3182
Ph: (03) 9537 0001
Website

I was recently invited along to try out the dinner menu at Fitzrovia, in Saint Kilda.  Having enjoyed chef Paul Jewson's previous venture, Outpost, as well as his cooking at events, I was keen to see what his own restaurant would be like.

Located on a relatively quiet stretch of Fitzroy street, Fitzrovia seems to be open pretty much constantly - serving breakfast and coffeelunchafternoon nibblesdinner, and cocktails!


The space has a very homey, low-key feel which I love.  At street level is the bar and some seating, and going further into the restaurant you'll see that the dining space is separated into distinct rooms, having kept the structure from the building's previous incarnation as a house.  My favourite feature is, unsurprisingly, the big open kitchen.

Before we started eating, Paul invited us into the kitchen so we could watch the following nectarine clafoutis tart being made.  Mmm... check out all that gorgeous ripe fruit!
Clafoutis nectarine tart in progress
For blogging purposes, Paul kindly arranged to bring out a selection of items from the menu, doing some in slightly smaller portions than normal so that we could try a larger range of different dishes.

First up, an amuse bouche of lime-marinated watermelon with goats curd and chard cress.  With the lime and watermelon flavours, this almost tasted like a cocktail - a refreshing little mouthful to begin proceedings.

Amuse Bouche: Lime-marinated watermelon with goats curd and chard cress
The first two dishes (brought out together) were Morton Bay bugs and a brawn terrine.
Roast Morton Bay bug tails with a cherry tomato gazpacho and shaved basil - $23.00


As always, I was eating with a non-seafood eater, which meant that I got to have this first dish all to myself!  Muahaha!  Morton Bay bugs aren't the type of thing I'd think to order myself, but I'm so glad I got to try them - they were fantastic!  The bugs were incredibly fresh, and a light prod with a fork removed the tender flesh from the shell.  Combined with the gazpacho and a salad of tomatoes, red onion and cucumber, this was a wonderful dish.

Fergus' brawn terrine with crispy pig's ear salad - $18.00
I enjoy all sorts of terrines, pâtés and rillettes, and this was a great version, with the crunchy croutons and crisp pig's ear strips providing a pleasing textural contrast.

Roasted shallot tart tatin with burrata and pea shoot salad - $16.00 
I thought the presentation of shallot tart tatin was really cute! With whole shallots nestled into the puff pastry, I was afraid it would be a bit strong, but the flavour was mellow and sweet.

Next came two pasta dishes.  (N.B. these were prepared in a smaller portion than usual for tasting purposes).
Spanner crab and homemade ricotta ravioli with salmon caviar, samphire, truss tomato and Prosecco
(N.B. this was a small portion designed for tasting; this dish is usually served in larger portions and priced at $24 for entree or $35 for main) 
I'd had my eye on the spanner crab ravioli when I saw it on the menu, and was super-happy when it was brought out.  I loved the silky pasta, and the mild, delicate flavours of the tomatoes and samphire.  I'll definitely be ordering this the next time I visit!

Egg pappardelle with wood roast field mushrooms, truffle oil and guanciale
(N.B. this was a small portion designed for tasting; this dish is usually served in larger portions and priced at $24 for entree or $35 for main) 
Whilst there were some great elements in the mushroom pasta, the flavours were very intense, so much so that the overall effect was too heavy for my liking.  It's lucky that we got this in a small portion - due to its richness, I would struggle to eat this as a main, or even an entree-sized dish, and would have hated to see any mushrooms, truffle oil or guanciale go to waste!

Cummin roast zucchini, butternut squash, fennel & Mossvale briq with ancient grain tabouleh, spiced pumpkin seeds and chipotle labna - $27.00
And now, the vegetarian option.  There was so much going on in this dish - in a good way!  The taboulleh had a mixture of crunch from seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and poppy), freekah and almonds; with bursts of sweetness from pomegranate, dates, sultanas and dried apricot; and the freshness of mint and coriander leaves.  The log in the centre comprised softly roasted pumpkin, wrapped in roast slices of zucchini and wafer-thin, crisp briq pastry.  The spiced pumpkin seed mixture placed on top provided a combo of crunch and an earthy spiciness that wouldn't be out of place as a fab bar snack.  And (finally!) all the elements were tied together with a nice heat from the chipotle labna that was zigzagged across the plate.  Phew!

I'm not vegetarian (clearly!), but I think it's great that so much thought and effort has gone into creating an exciting vegetable dish that is satisfyingly substantial, but not in the least bit stodgy.

Chef Paul wanted us to try his beef cheek, braised overnight in Red Hill Scotch ale, but with all that food before we sadly had to wave the white flag and move on to dessert.  (Next time, next time!)

Of course, we had to order that nectarine clafoutis tart.  I'm sure that sharing one slice would have been just perfect as a dessert, but I couldn't go past "Adam's ballistic baked cheesecake" when I saw it on the menu, so we asked if we could have a teensy-tiny slice of each one.

Adam's ballistic baked cheesecake
(N.B. this is a small portion for tasting; the cheesecake is usually served in a larger portion and priced at $10.50)
The name doesn't lie; this was a serious cheesecake.  Very rich, very dense, and with no added fruit or other flavourings to distract from the cake itself, this is a cheesecake for true cheesecake lovers.

Yarra Valley nectarine clafoutis tart
(N.B. This was a small portion for tasting; the tart is usually served in a larger portion and priced at $10.50)
The clafoutis tart was, as expected, fabulous.  I don't think you can go wrong with an abundance of fresh fruit, especially when combined with warm custard and pastry.

I loved Paul's approach of carefully crafted yet simple dishes, served generously and in a pleasant atmosphere.  His particular strength, however, appears to be with seafood, and I'd absolutely recommend any of his seafood dishes!  A big thanks to Paul Jewson for a lovely dinner and for guiding us through the menu!

Fitzrovia on Urbanspoon

Sarah and Sandra dined as guests of Fitzrovia.

4 comments:

Celeste @ Berrytravels said...

Everything sounds lovely. *sighhhs*

Sarah said...

It was really good, I was so impressed! I want to go back to try their coffee and breakfasts. :)

xox Sarah

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that's samphire? Looks like snow pea sprouts to me...

Sarah said...

Anonymous - the green leaves are snow pea sprouts, the pieces of samphire are the dark green strips underneath.