Provincial Hotel: Porkfest

Posted on | May 8, 2011 | 14 Comments

Pork is very common in Chinese cooking. And when my mum cooks, she puts pork in almost everything. When she’s cooking a vegetable dish she will normally add strips of pork, even when she’s already serving a couple of meat dishes. When making Chinese soups, she normally adds pork meat or bones. It would be pretty hard to be a non pork eater (or a vegetarian!) in her house.

I, however, very, very rarely cook pork. It’s not that I don’t like it – I just don’t like to cook it! So when I see an offer for a pork dinner, I’m all over it like a donkey on a waffle.

Kimberly organised a mini porkfest dinner recently at the Provincial Hotel with some fellow twitterers/bloggers – for $50 we had three courses of pork followed by dessert. The Provincial Hotel surprises me. I’d never eaten there before, despite walking past a thousand times (Alastair and I lived in Fitzroy years ago). It’s the large, beige-yellow building with a terrible case of peeling paint, on the corner of Brunswick Street and Johnston Street. Inside the building is a pub, but also a rather good restaurant.

Before we got stuck into the piggy goodness, there was bread and oil. I don’t know what they do to their bread at the Provincial Hotel, but it was oily and moreish. It was so hard not to fill up on bread!

First we had mustard stuffed and fried pig tails, with house made black pudding, carrot puree and crushed peas.

Inside the crunchy croquette was the meat from the pig tails. Mhmm deep fried, porky goodness – hard to go wrong.

The second course of parsley crumbed pork loin, apple puree, salt baked beetroot salad and cider sauce was gorgeous, and my favourite of the night. Underneath the two pieces of meat were thin slices of salty beetroot (I know it looks a bit like sauce in the photo).

I set aside my piece of crackling from the pork belly to eat until last, and had to guard it zealously from people trying to steal it. It was perfect – a crunchy, salty pork chip!

After a wee break, we received the last porky porkness, being wood roasted pork shoulder, with olive crushed potato, pickled pear and rocket salad and salsa verde. The shoulder had been braised for 18 hours (from memory) and it was a bit dry, but the salsa verde helped to give it a lift. I also really liked the pickled pear with the pork – I never would have thought of that combination but it was great, a bit of fruity sourness to go with the meat.

Sadly my stomach was reaching it’s limit by this stage, so I just couldn’t eat the potato. Not enough room! There was room for that piece of crackling on top of the pork shoulder though. Oh yeah.

We finished with a superbly bittersweet chocolate tart, with pistachio salt caramel and vanilla ice cream. The chocolate tart was very, very rich and I loved the dollop of salted pistachio caramel. I wish there had been more ice cream to offset the richness of the tart… not that it stopped me eating the entire thing, when I thought there was no way I could finish it. So rich but so good!

Like my mum, Chef Paul Cooper seems to know his pork. I don’t know why I always thought the Provincial Hotel was just a dodgy pub, but I’m glad that I now know the truth – that inside there’s a good restaurant that serves tasty, reasonably priced food. I’ll certainly be back again!

For more on the Provincial Hotel, see these blogs:

  • Melbourne Bits and Pieces
  • Tune into Radio Carly
  • Addictive & Consuming
  • Melb Hot or Not
  • The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua
  • Half-Eaten
  • Food Fable
  • Words and Flavours
  • [googleMap name="The Provincial Hotel" width="600" height="300" directions_to="false"]299 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia[/googleMap]

    The Provincial Hotel
    299 Brunswick Street
    Fitzroy
    Phone: 03 9810 0042
    Web: provincialhotel.com.au


    The Provincial Hotel / Cafe Provincial on Urbanspoon

    Comments

    14 Responses to “Provincial Hotel: Porkfest”

    1. Thanh
      May 9th, 2011 @ 11:49 am

      Sorry, my childish nature means I must *laff* at the “After a wee break, we received the last porky porkness…” I know you mean a “short break” but it can be read both ways. I think for me, a wee break was actually what I did haha.

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      Hah!! Yes I did mean “short”… Trust you to think of the other meaning ;)

      [Reply]

    2. Hannah
      May 9th, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

      Oh BFF, I would’ve had to shake my head at you forlornly had you said you didn’t finish the dessert. No pork goodness, no matter how porky or good, should interfere with dessert. Thank heavens you did the right thing.

      P.S. We ate tons of pork in my house growing up too, though that was due less to Chineseness than to Mum’s beef allergies and the expensiveness of lamb…
      Hannah recently posted..Freemantle Chocolate 58 Dark Chocolate Bar

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      Phew! So relieved I didn’t disappoint you!

      [Reply]

    3. Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday)
      May 9th, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

      Pork is so in right now. Whoever did Australian Pork PR is a genius.
      Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) recently posted..Food- Love &amp Tokyo Part II

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      Haha, yeah that pork is so hot right now. :p

      [Reply]

    4. yasmeen (wandering spice)
      May 10th, 2011 @ 11:03 am

      ohhhhh that porky goodness. i rarely, if ever, cook with pork at home, so like you, i indulge in it when i’m out. that shoulder looks obscenely good.

      i’ve also passed the Provincial a number of times but haven’t eaten there. after this post i can guarantee it won’t be long.

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      It’s definitely worth a visit! The food is good :)

      [Reply]

    5. msihua
      May 10th, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

      I’m so glad that you didn’t name names when it came to pork crackling stealer… tsk tsk.. I wonder who that could have been.. *look over there!*
      msihua recently posted..Food Hacks- 30 Second Chocolate Cake Recipe

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      Hehee, well I was being discreet and trying to protect your identify. Too bad someone else let the cat out of the bag!

      [Reply]

    6. Susan
      May 13th, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

      I love a good pork fest! It can be quite rich though…
      Susan recently posted..Two different Celebrity Chef meals

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      Yes, it was quite a rich, heavy meal :D Thank goodness I don’t eat like that every day!

      [Reply]

    7. penny aka jeroxie
      May 13th, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

      Bummer to miss out but at least I got to try the first course.
      To more pork and crackling.
      penny aka jeroxie recently posted..Momofuku Ko- New York City

      [Reply]

      Agnes Reply:

      I’ve no doubt there will be another one :D

      [Reply]

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