The reason I haven’t eaten at many of Melbourne’s newest, hippest restaurants isn’t because I shy away from hype. It’s because of that damned no booking trend. I’m not a no booking person. I like knowing that I can book a table and be seated at a certain time. So lining up for a table just isn’t me.
That’s the reason it’s taken me so long to get to the Duchess of Spotswood. I’ve heard SO many good things about it, but I’ve also heard how busy it is in the weekend. And we all know what busy means – having to wait for a table.
The other week Alastair and I both had a Monday off work, so I figured it was finally time to check out Duchess. And it was the perfect time – because it was a weekday, we walked in and got a table straight away – hoorah.
Located in the small suburb of Spotswood (natch), the Duchess of Spotwood is housed in an ex-butcher shop. The fit out is low key but effortlessly cool – white painted walls, timber floors, and a crystal chandelier hanging from a lovely ceiling rose. Cuisine wise, Duchess serves good coffee and English inspired food, with the breakfast menu containing a bit of fun and whimsy in the names of the dishes, such as: Earl of Sandwich, Duchess of Pork, Prince of Wales, King’s Woodcock and Breakfast of Champignons.
We arrived just before the breakfast cut off, so we were able to order from the breakfast menu. Alastair chose the Prince of Wales ($19.50) – house smoked salmon with horseradish yoghurt, poached eggs and grilled potato bread. He told me as he was eating, “This is yum!” so it received a big thumbs up from him.
My brunch dish was the King’s Woodcock ($16.50) – scrambled eggs with green tomato chutney and pork, fennel and chilli sausages. The eggs were really good – the creaminess offset by the vinegary chutney and slightly spicy sausages. Such a satisfying dish.
Oh yes, and the coffee was good too.
Now you may have heard that Duchess of Spotwood have now opened for dinner during the week. Alastair and I were so impressed by our brunch that we were really keen to try out their dinner offering. So we returned last weekend with Adrian, Chris, Hazzie and Gazman.
Dinner is $55 for three courses, with there being several options for each course on the menu. For entrée, Alastair chose the slow cooked egg with streaky bacon and gentleman’s relish (teehee). His egg was thick and gooey, and the bacon – whoa the bacon. The bacon was wafer thin and super crispy. We had a giggle about the gentleman’s relish (I know, very immature), but it turns out that it’s an actual thing – a type of anchovy paste that’s made with anchovies, butter, herbs and spices.
My entrée was the roasted chestnuts with Congo potatoes, goat curd and pine mushrooms. The chestnuts and potatoes were sitting on top of a fried onion sauce that had been cooked down without butter or water, and the dish was garnished with puff pastry walnut crackers – crunchy and buttery.
I didn’t take a photo of everyone’s food, but I did lean over and take a shot of Hazzie’s entrée, which was the mushroom broth with shaved vegetables and smoked eel.
For mains, Alastair had the 200g rump cap with hot pot potatoes and bone marrow. He’s had some BAD steaks in restaurants lately, but I think the steak at Duchess has turned the tide. This was magnificent – I mean, just LOOK at it. Also see the green tube – that was the bone marrow that had been covered in parsley and then fried into a crisp tube filled with the fatty, gelatinous marrow.
The steak was served with a roasted onion and potatoes that must’ve been hiding themselves under the meat.
Hazzie and I both had the pork dish which is definitely geared towards pork lovers. On the plate we had a slice of pork belly (hiding in the back behind the rest of the meat), a very tender and flavoursome pork cheek, a slice of trotter terrine, and a dark and spicy round of black pudding. There was also a small amount of soft semolina and apple puree.
I made some rough notes into my phone during the meal, and I have to laugh at what I wrote for this dish: tender tender meat very delicious.
Indeed. (Also, past self – not very helpful!)
I was so full after eating all that tender tender very delicious meat, but there was still dessert to come. Alastair had the brioche doughnut which were filled with fig jam, rolled in sugar and served with honeycomb. Fried dough covered in sugar – how can you go wrong?
Gazman decided to have the Cambridge burnt pudding, which looked like a nice creme brulee.
The rest of us chose the chocolate cake with puffed grains – a dark chocolate mousse topped with an even darker thick glaze. It came with puffed grains and a thin slice of spice bread.
The cake was good but it was incredibly rich and sweet. We all struggled to even eat half.
Despite the fact that we were all defeated by the chocolate cake, dinner was awesome – the food was so very good. The non-glutton inside me wishes that there was an option to only eat two courses because I was absolutely stuffed after eating three (I’m sure there’s reasons why it’s a fixed price menu – maybe it wouldn’t be financially viable otherwise). However, the gluttonous side of me is already pondering when I can visit next… I have a feeling it won’t be too far away.
Lots of people have blogged about Duchess of Spotswood. If you want more to whet your appetite, check out a couple of recent posts on dinner – one by my homie Adrian and another at Footscray food blog.
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Duchess of Spotswood
87 Hudsons Road
Phone (03) 9391 6016