Establish a relationship with land and sea at Dutchess
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival foodies regularley experience the dilemma of which events to attend. With finite time and limited room in the stomach, the choice is an important one. Needless to say, my predicament was resolved, and then some, when I attended Relationships with Land & Sea at Dutchess.
Though it would seem undignified for the Duke of Wellington to hoist his duchess wife upon his shoulders, I assure you here it is not the case. Profusely elegant, Dutchess Restaurant and Bar is nobly perched above Melbourne’s oldest pub, The Duke of Wellington, on Flinders Street.
Sipping a glass of 2014 Chalmers ‘Felicitas’ Sparkling Fiano upon arrival, I admired the sophisticated, cool vibe of the venue. Polished wood floors, feature lighting, curvy booths and a glass wall spilling in natural light effused an elegant charm that served as graceful preparation for the regal fare to follow.
With a focus on locally sourced produce, Head Chef Dylan Kemp (Royal Mail Hotel, The Point) treated us to four delectable courses using produce from Sher Wagyu, Ocean Made Seafood, Signature Oysters and Yarra Valley Farms. Each course was paired with Chalmers Wines, well-known in the wine scene for more than 20 years.
We were first delighted with a Portland squid sashimi. Beautiful white strands of squid were accentuated with pops of colourful heirloom vegetables, including unique cucamelon cucumbers (cucumbers that look like mini watermelons). A flavoursome miso poured over the top and paired with a 2015 Chalmers Vermentino, this was a grand start to the lunch.
The second course sparked my curiosity the minute it hit the table. I enthusiastically worked my way through the smoked marrow foam, carefully dusted with leek ash. My reward was to discover the jewels inside – oysters. Poached in Wagyu fat, which is as delicious as it sounds, and layered with bresaola and onions, the dish was a flavour sensation. Accompanied with a wonderfully deep orange 2016 Chalmers Rosato, the freshness of the seafood really shone through. I was now convinced that this was indeed a spread befitting even the most fastidious of duchesses.
Next in line was the roast porterhouse, slow roasted brisket, sous vide cheek pie, jus and artichoke, all paired with 2015 Chalmers Nero d’Avola. Though excited to try every morsel, I did not want to disturb the artistic culinary arrangement on my plate. The sous vide cheek pie may remind you of a four n’ twenty, but it hits you with ten times the flavour. Both the roast porterhouse and slow roasted brisket were perfectly cooked and oozed flavour, particularly when drizzled in the rich jus.
The grandeur of our repast ended on a high with a hazelnut mousse, Weiss chocolate and Feuillantine. Pour over as much warm Nutella butterscotch as you desire – in my case, the entire pitcher, and set your tastebuds into overdrive. Similar to a fancy Forrero Rocher, this dish deserves the crown. When partnered with a 2013 Chalmers Sagrantino Appasimento that boasts the richness of sultanas, the taste and texture has all the pageantry of a coronation.
If you didn’t get a chance to check out Dutchess during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, put this one on your list as one to try for delicious seafood, steaks and a few drinks. The menu is conveniently divided into raw dishes, small/large dishes, sides, small/medium/large grain and pasture-fed steaks, and of course, desserts and cheese. If you want the decision to be made for you, opt for the ‘Shut Up’ & Eat, which is a 3-course sharing style menu for $79 per person.
The drinks menu at Dutchess is equally impressive, with a range of unique cocktails, mocktails, beers, wines and spirits.
Dutchess is the ideal venue if you’re wanting to impress. With no ridiculously expensive price tag, experience aristocratic dining with beautifully presented dishes made with quality ingredients.
If you’re up for something a bit more casual, head downstairs to The Duke of Wellington for a range of satisfying breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Level 2, 146 Flinders Street, Melbourne
(03) 9810 0055