I'm always on the lookout for good food experiences in great spaces.... and this weekend in Melbourne I think I may have found the location that gets my vote for the 'best Chef's Table in the country'.
This is the private dining space at the Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda, Melbourne.
It's like a Caravaggio painting.
A long wooden table with red vinyl and chrome swivel chairs seating up to 16 people.... buttressed by the glass-fronted kitchen and a roaring open fireplace to the left of frame.
And suspended above it... a magnificent installation of hanging long red chillies, garlic bulbs and dried artichoke heads.
A food chandelier. Truly inspired.
And all behind this non-descript heritage facade on Inkerman St.
The Newmarket is the brainchild of the same group of food entrepreneurs who gave us Melbourne's Albert Park Hotel , the Middle Park Hotel and The Royal Saxon Hotel at Richmond.....
...and their architects Six Degrees.
The space is a mix of hip and retro...with these dramatic concrete arches, painted blue ceilings, skylights
...just made for gathering with friends.
A raunchy wallpaper frieze from the original building has been lovingly reproduced
va va voom....
Which brings us to the food.... a modern take on Cal-Tex (Californian Mexican)... rotisseried rare breed meats (goat, lamb, beef), wondrously soft tacos, salads and wood-fired flat breads to have individually or shared.
We start with the oysters. Squeaky fresh and filled with ozoney sea-water
Tom Thumbs and Rusty Wire
...and saucer-sized angassi's which were a meal in themselves
wood-fired cheese and tomato flat-bread
fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil leaf and pomegrante seed salad
And the dish to make men swoon....
beef rib-eye roast with jus, corn relish and corn puree.
Can Melbourne set the food bar any higher?
You just have to come here with a big party of friends.
This is a place where memories are made.