MSG: The Melbourne Social Guide

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Fit for a King

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The Palace

505 City Rd
South Melbourne 3205

(03) 9699 6410

web

Hours: Mon-Sun Lunch 12pm-3pm
Dinner 6-10pm


The Palace is not the kind of place you stumble into… I often drive up and down Bay Street to go to Thomas Dux green grocers, and although I knew roughly where I should be expecting to find it, it still took me a couple of times driving past to spot the Palace.

Basically, it’s on City Road, South Melbourne just before it turns into Bay Street, Port Melbourne. Even though I’ve now been there twice, I still need to keep my eyes peeled for it so I don’t drive past it.

Drive towards the bay, look left, and it’s just after a petrol station, in a blue double story period building.

Inside, there is a pub with the standard bar, but behind it a small, but warm dining room with white linen table cloths. The first time I went, we were seated in the dining room, which was very comfortable. The second time, we were seated just outside the dining room which wasn’t as comfortable, sort of in a dark  space between the bar and the dining room.

The wine list is approachable and reasonably priced with some pretty good quality drops. There is a selection of around 8 entrees priced around the $20 mark, around 5 mains around the $35 mark, a choice of 5 steaks and three main dishes to share, with a few changing daily specials. The best way to the describe the cuisine would be Modern Australian I guess.. though it is heavily influenced by other cultures such as Italian, or Chinese. Though, I guess that probably is the meaning of Australian cuisine – dishes with inspiration from the best from other cultures to highlight great quality produce. We’re lucky to be Aussies.

Anyways, I digress.

The only entree I tried on the two separate visits I had was the steak tartare.

Steak tartare $20

I have this horrible habit of staring at other peoples dishes shamelessly. During my first visit to the Palace, I noticed that half the tables seemed to be ordering the tartare. Thus, I vowed to order it second time round, however, when I arrived I was devastated to see it was no longer on the menu. My pout turned into a massive grin when the waiter said that the kitchen could make the dish for us.

The steak tartare is chunky tender minced eye fillet mixed with herbs and topped by a quail yolk. This is mixed up, and eaten on mini toasts with your choice of the perfectly quinelled condiments which I believe are minced gherkins, white anchovies, capers, shallots and Dijon mustard. A small bottle of Tabasco accompanied so spice could be added if required. The steak was wondrously soft and the condiments went well to highlight the flavour of the meat.

I’m a big believer of variety is the spice of life, but after my first visit, I had to order the next dish a second time around.

The Chateaubriand.

chateaubriand - in all it's glory

chateaubriand - plated up

The photos really don’t do this dish justice. I fell in lust at first sight, and in love at first bite.

The Chateaubriand consists of 500g (yes, half a kilo, this is why it’s for 2) of tender steak, cooked to order served on top of a bed of brussel sprouts and pancetta lardons, crowned with onion rings and served with bordelaise sauce. Accompanying is potato mash and rocket and parmesan salad.

This dish is as close to perfect as I’ve come in a long time. The steak is wonderful. I’m not the type to order steak unless we’re at a steak restaurant, but i would say this is one of the best steaks I’ve had. Juicy, tender, the accompanying sauce wonderful. My dining companions all claimed they didn’t like brussel sprouts, but I argued that they just hadn’t had well cooked sprouts. A taste of these buttery, perfectly cooked sprouts quickly changed their minds (the fat pancetta lardons accompanying also may have helped sway them). The mash was perfectly smooth and simply divine. And onion rings. Really. Palace – you had me at onion rings. These certainly did not disappoint.

At $42 a head, an absolute bargain, especially considering the quality of the meat and the fact it comes with two sides. It reminds me of a similar dish of a hanger steak for two to share that the Station Hotel in Footscray do, but I prefer this one. Though the one at the Station Hotel is fricken amazing also.

Sadly, I must admit that I went to the Palace a few months ago and I can’t remember the exact components of the next couple of dishes we tried.

jewfish - served with a stew of mussels and prawns

The jewfish was well cooked, the seafood was quite fresh. The dish was good, but not exceptional. I did enjoy it though.

confit duck leg, served on a bed of lentils

I really liked this dish, I am a massive fan of duck though, but it was well cooked and the lentil stew was a great accompaniment.

Excuse the blurriness of the photos of the desserts, I was losing the steadiness of my hands as I increasingly consumed the wonderful wine (who can resist Bass Philip Pinot Noir?!?!)

hot chocolate fondant with cookies and cream - $17

Crème brûlée with almond biscotti - $15

eton mess

The desserts were nice but not amazing. The fondant was wonderfully chocolately, and seeing the chocolate ooze from the pudding is visually orgasmic. The brulee was well flavoured, and the eton mess was a compliment from the kitchen (which I suspect was because we spent a lot of money on wine).

The service was exceptional both times I went. Questions were answered thoughtfully and knowledgeably. I often put myself in the hands of the wait staff, and I hate nothing more than when asking for a recommendation, receiving a response like “I dunno… what do you like,” or worse yet “I don’t know, I haven’t tried them.” There was none of this here, the staff were happy to guide us in our decisions and were very attentive and friendly throughout.

The Age Good Food Guide rates it 14/20.

Jess’ Ratings

Taste: 9. I think the food is amazing. Each dish is full of well balanced flavours.

Value: 9. For the price you pay, you’ll be hard-pressed to find similar quality. Food is surprisingly well priced for the quality and quantity you get.

Service: 9. Hard to fault.

Atmosphere: 8. The dining room is wonderful. The side part next to the bar is a bit dingy.

Overall: 9. Love this lace. Can’t stop raving about how much I love it. Can’t wait to go back. Best of all, only a 5 minute bike ride from home.

Gastropubs. Win.

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Written by glutamatejess

December 8, 2010 at 12:56 am

One Response

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  1. I really enjoyed my meal at The Palace – great food at reasonable prices with possibly the best chocolate fondant in town!


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