Note: this is a scheduled post while I’m away. Replies to comments/emails will be even slower than usual.
Alastair and I are currently romping around South America – if everything has gone to plan, today we will be on the final leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. Before we left, we had a celebratory-hooray-almost-on-holiday lunch with Maztech and Dazzle at Newmarket Hotel. What better way to celebrate our impending visit to Latin America than a Latin American inspired feast?
I’ve had lunch at Newmarket Hotel before, and the first time I visited, I wondered if the designers/architects just went crazy and threw in every design idea they could think of. However the design of the interior came about – I like it. The restaurant is split into several parts – there’s a section where diners are seated underneath hanging dried chillies, garlic and artichokes, a section in the middle alongside the bar that has tables located on top of a tartan carpet and underneath concrete arches, a more refined area at the front that’s a bit darker and moody (at least, during the day), and a really lovely looking courtyard on one side.
First up: drinks. Because you have no choice. We found it funny (weird) that when you’re first seated you are only given a drinks menu. Only after ordering drinks do you get upgraded to the food menu. What if we wanted to decide on a drink based on what we were eating?
Anyway, we played ball and ordered drinks first.
The boys decided straight away that they both wanted the burger, so Maz and I rolled our eyes at them and decided we would construct a lunch for the two of us to share. While we were deciding on the menu, we nibbled on tortilla chips and guacmole ($12).
Maz and I decided that we’d start with a couple of tacos – duck carnitas and soft shell crab.
The soft tacos with duck carnitas and spring slaw ($16) came out with the slaw on the taco, and the filling in a bowl.
We also had soft shell crab tacos, with guacamole, shaved fennel, spicy corn and tomatillo salsa ($17).
We only ordered one serve of the duck carnitas tacos, but got upsold to two serves of the soft shell crab ones (each serve comes with two small tacos). To be honest, we could’ve just split the soft shell crab tacos as well, considering how much food we had coming out.
But the tacos? They were small but they were GOOD. Both tacos had so much flavour, interesting fillings and a fresh and crunchy salad. Yes, working out at about $8 for one small taco, they are a bit expensive. But I would rather eat these than the cheaper, blander versions that’s sold in most other places in Melbourne.
We also shared a serve of the buffalo milk haloumi and pumpkin empanadas with olive caramel ($18). There were two to a serve and they were really good, with a light, crispy pastry.
As mentioned, the boys both had the dry aged Warialda Belted Galloway beef burger with jack cheese and seasonal pickles ($25), which comes with potatoes. Friends, this is a fantastic burger.
The thick meat pattie was cooked medium rare and had a great smokiness and depth of flavour inside a soft bun with fresh, crisp vegetables. I honestly had a bit of food envy. Over a burger! I know!
While the boys chowed down on their omfg amazing burger, Maz and I ordered two XL St Louis style pork ribs with Mr Wilson’s BBQ sauce and apple slaw ($16 each). We should’ve just ordered one, because there was quite a lot of meat on the ribs. While the meat could’ve been a bit more tender, the tangy spicy sauce was delicious.
We also had the pit BBQ wagyu brisket with heirloom carrots, horseradish, parsley and caper sauce ($29). No problems with tenderness here – it just fell apart with a slight prod. And as Maztech said, the horseradish was, “Bam in your mouth!”
And we thought we should probably get something that wasn’t meat, so we also had the quinoa, broad bean, pecorino and mint salad ($9). It was fine, but y’know. Quinoa doesn’t excite me.
My food hadn’t settled after eating, so I was totally up for dessert. Maztech and I split two. The first was the Mexican coffee and tequila flan with drunken cherries ($14). Whooza. The cherries were so drunk they were ready to climb on to the table and dance (what? you never did that?). As for the flan – lovely.
Our second dessert was the caramelised date and banana cake with peanut butter parfait ($14). The cake was excellent, and the parfait was creamy and smooth, with contrasting crunchy sugar pieces and a subtle peanut butter flavour. The cake also sat on top of a drizzle of salted caramel sauce, for even more of a sugar/salt hit.
The boys both had a coffee, and that was probably the only negative of the meal. Coffee wasn’t very good.
But apart from that, everything else was great. We ordered and ate quite a lot, so it wasn’t a cheap lunch, but it was definitely worth the money. The food was excellent.
By the way, Newmarket have lunch specials during the week where many tacos are $5. What a good opportunity to eat through their range of tacos… can you tell I’m pondering when I can spare a weekday lunch break?
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34 Inkerman Street
Phone: 03 9537 1777