The Press Club
72 Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Reservation via Open Table
So, I must admit that I wasn’t desperate to try The Press Club. After looking at some photos on the web, I wasn’t sure what to expect from ‘fine dining Greek cuisine’, I’d only experienced the home style, generous and delicious more casual Greek fare, and to be honest, my experience of Greek desserts have been a bit sickly sweet, and rice dessert doesn’t thrill me either.
Having said all this, I was very pleasantly surprised.
Along Flinders Street we walked passed The Press Club’s ‘experimental kitchen’ which is designed as a special experience with a private chef for a minimum of 8 guests and a maximum of 16 guest. The prices seem very reasonable – Weekday lunch is $95pp, 5 courses $125 pp. Dinner consists of 6 courses for $170pp or 8 courses for $195 pp. After walking past this, we then continued to walk and found the tucked away entrance, which opens to a curtained off little concave, where the Maitre D greets you and asks for your reservation. You then hand over your coats away from the cold of the Melbourne streets, and the curtain opens to reveals a small number of dimly lit private booths, which are quite cosy but well spaced. To my surprise there are only a very small number of tables.
On to the food. We ordered the 5 course degustation for $125pp. Very reasonable for the reputation The Press Club has. All degustations are chef’s choice each evening, you just let them know if you have any dietary requirements before hand.
So first off the rank came the appetizers, an array of little tasting bites. This alone was worth coming to The Press Club for.
- Interpretation of Chicken Soup
- Salt and Vinegar loukoumades with a (I think it was trout) dip with fish roe
- Jalapenos with hummus
The most impressive was their interpretation of chicken soup served in an eggshell cup. Wow. There was a clear consume jelly at the bottom, then a creamy flavourful creamier layer on top with crunchy bits of sage. Absolutely delightful on the tastebuds. We all scraped up every last drop. Second favourite was the salt and vinegar loukoumades with the salty (again I think it was trout) dip and fish roe. Very morish. The other three items were cooked very well too.
Now onto service. Great service. Interesting way to provide cutlery. They give you a ‘cutlery box’, and we’re told that they don’t want to dictate how diners enjoy their food, you are free to choose whatever cutlery you feel like using.
First degustation tasting dish was a lasagne interpretation. Instead of pasta, they used thin sheets of daikon, creamy bechamel, a mushroom sauce, and crispy mushrooms on the top. So delicious, I could eat this dish over and over again.
For the second dish, we were showed the technique of how eggplant was smoked in the olden days. The smoked eggplant was then the highlight in this dish, with wallaby tartare. Again so well cooked, another amazing dish.
The third dish was warm homemade bread with infused butter, served along-side octopus with lentils. Every element was lovely individually and then went so well together.
Prior to the fourth and last savoury dish, we were presented with a knife. Apparently the story is that George Calombaris was presented this knife by his friend as a present, and so he decided to purchase this for guests of his restaurant to demonstrate hospitality and friendship. Nice story. Obviously Greeks don’t have the same superstitions as Chinese. In Chinese culture, we never give knifes, scissors, or anything sharp, in Chinese culture it’s interpreted as severing ties and breaking a friendship. Not a great omen. So if you ever give a knife or pair of scissors, in Chinese custom we always ask the recipient to give us something in return, even it it’s a token $1 coin, so it’s not a ‘gift’ as such, it’s just a transaction. On to the food. The duck was absolutely perfectly cooked. There was a touch of citrus, the sauce was delicate and all paired well together on the plate.
The fifth and last dessert dish to the evening was the dessert. Little cakes which had an almond element to it, light delicious icecream with some other crunchy elements. Very good end to a great meal.
The Press Club chefs hard at work.
I was definitely impressed by the experience, and will be back.
Value for money: 8.5/10
Overall Score: 34.5/40