Friday, September 2, 2011

Carlton Wine Room - (Melbourne)

  Around the corner from Brunetti’s and opposite DOC Pizza,  this pretty recently opened Wine Room surprisingly serves food that are of very high quality,  but at only a fraction of the price of what many mainstream restaurants charge outside.  Most Main Courses start in the low 20’s and cap off at $30,  which makes it nearly 30-40% cheaper to eat.   Yet the end results will surprise the customers, with the amount of heart they put into the individual dishes.   They are definitely onto a winner here,  as the food quality is easily higher than some other Hatted or Michelin rated restaurants internationally.  And all this from a Wine Bar !




Hepburn Natural Sparkling Mineral Water -
Same as what I had at Birdman Eating,
love the slight fizz



A Loire Valley Sauvignon -
A clean crisp Sauv with hints of passionfruit in the nose



Bread with a local Olive Oil -




Salt Cod Croquettes, Apple & Celeriac Remoulade -
Well seasoned and just salty enough from the herbed cod and potato filling,  with a slight mustardy Celeriac Remoulade and apple bits to go with it all.  ~   8/10




Porchetta di Testa (Pig’s Head), Smoked Grapes, Horseradish & Cashews -
This was a sensational dish. The Pig head’s meat is made into a rolled porchetta then sliced up, served cold.  The smoked grapes and horseradish were a very good pairing with the meat, which had a really great porky flavour and crunchy cartilage bits ~  10/10




Smoked Eel & Pancetta Croquettes with Swede Puree -
Filled with small bits of fairly smoky eel and ham,  this worked a bit different from the above Cod croquette we had on another day !  ~  9/10



Cured Kingfish, White Almond, Chorizo with Radish -
A beautifully plated dish,  whilst the taste was good the texture of the fish was a little too ‘dense’ after curing. Could have been better if less cured ~  6/10



Mixed Tomato Salad, Puff Brown Rice, Burrata Cheese, Olive Oil Jam, Toasted Almond -
This had some interesting tomatoes (photos doesn’t show them up, my apologies),  and the olive oil jam with a bit of a honeyed base worked so well with the tomatoes and the decently creamy and tasty Burrata.  The puff brown rice added a toasty note to it.  A sensational, mixed tomatoes and burrata salad especially that addictive sauce ~   10/10



Chicken Liver Parfait, Brioche, Thyme & Apple Relish -
This liver parfait was beautiful to eat.  It was creamy and really fragrant,  probably from some muscat or sauternes or cognac influence (though it tasted even more complex, can’t work it out!) and just a hint of thyme.   Greatly executed and one of the best I’ve tried ~  10/10



Crisp School Prawns,  Lemon and Chili Aioli -
This was crispy and prawny, simple but fried well.  ~  9/10


Sardus Pater Carignano DOC Is Solus (Sardinia, Italy) -
Carries a slightly sea saltiness in the Carignano wine,  I thought this might work with some of the savoury dishes. 



Braised Duck Cannelloni, Sauteed Mushrooms with Vanilla Salsify – $23
A nice gamey wintery dish, done fairly well.  Duck meat had a deep braising liquid flavour but there wasn’t much of the vanilla salsify.   ~  8/10


Quail,  Beetroot, Olive and Truffle with Consommé -
This was a beautifully done dish,  both in terms of execution, flavour and also presentation.  The olive tapenade and the truffled puree really worked with the well cooked quail,  all of this balanced with the concentrated consomme stock and the beetroot underneath.  From just a low priced wine room,  their quail gave me more surprises than Michelin Michelin 2 Star - Robuchon L’Atelier’s famous La Caille au foie gras.   ~   9/10



Roasted Lamb Rump, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Walnut, Sprouts -
This was really great with a nice charred flavour and lamb’s unique gamey taste. Served with some eggplant puree and toasted vegetables and a dukkah like spicing.  Very well balanced dish and execution was spot on.   ~   9/10



Dessert Wine of Bella Ridge Estate -  a 2006 late harvest Viognier
We wanted something not too sticky,  and was recommended this lighter option.  But it wasn’t very fragrant for a sweet wine and for a Viognier too!    There are better late harvest sweets out there…


Spiced Bavarois, Rhubarb and Anzac Biscuit -
For only $7 this is a very good dessert and very well presented,  and much more complex than the description says!  The rhubarb spiced bavarois came with a brulee crust,  and the spiced ice cream on anzac biscuit soil worked really well.  


Chocolate Delice,  Kumquat, Hazelnut and Lemon Curd -
Another well presented dessert with a lot of delicate touches,  such as the cointreau soaked kumquat and the tangy lemon curd, which worked well with the chocolate delice cake.  ~  8/10


Orange Polenta Cake, Fizzy Grapes, Caramelised White Chocolate Ice-Cream -
The orange polenta cake was nicely flavoured and fluffy,  the carbonated fizzy grapes were fun to eat with this.   And a caramelised white chocolate ice cream!  The amount of work and ingredients put into these desserts are surely worth more than $7, right?   ~  7/10


Pear Tart,  Frangipane, Toasted Oat Ice Cream -
The highlight of this dessert to me is the toasted oat ice cream, which is again beautifully plated.  The Pear tart was a litte less convincing though, would have liked it more caramelised or cooked.  ~  6.5/10


The cozy room upstairs,  on another visit -
This Wine Bar is surely outperforming its category.
The prices are reasonable and half ‘tasting’ portions can be ordered,
and a lot of the dishes were carefully constructed yet expertly cooked.
Highly recommendable,  and get there before everyone else finds out !

Price: AUD $40-50 per person,  before wine
Food:  ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours -
Tue – Fri   5pm – 11pm
Sat-Sun    12pm – 11pm

Address: 172-174 Faraday Street, Carlton 3053, Melbourne, Australia
Ph: (03) 9347 2626

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