Monday, 9 April 2012

Town Hall Hotel - Melbourne - 166 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

This is one of the most atmospheric pubs in Melbourne. The maroon walls, fireplaces adorned with decanters and dark wooden tables give this place a mixed feeling of a pub with a dining room.

But you won't be finding any parma on the menu, this is Italian all the way.

Reading the menu, I could not control myself, I wanted to try everything.

The menu is split between small dishes, medium dishes (mainly pastas and risottos) and main dishes.

We shared a bit of each.

From the small menu we tried prawns wrapped in zucchini, prosciutto with a lemon mash. The flavours were great but it could have done with a bit more prosciutto and a bit less egg - but I woofed it down in any case.

From the medium menu (although it was a special), we tried the pine mushroom pappardelle pasta. Pine mushrooms remind me of my youth when only Greeks and Italians knew of them and collected them from any local (or not so local) forrest around in the suburbs. We used to fry them with butter and then later add a squidge of lemon. Eventually the rest of Australia clued on and they now cost around $17 per kilo. I liked it better when the world was more naive about food.

All pasta here is made on the premises and ours was cooked perfectly al dente. There were many others to choose from like gnocchi with aged balsamic, tortelloni of veal and truffle and many other greats. And they are all around the $20-$25 mark - it is impossible to find interesting yet simple pastas around Melbourne for that price.

Also from the medium menu we ate the quail with grapes, chorizo and green chilli. It was flavoursome although I could have done without the chorizo.

From the main menu we shared the peppered duck breast and confit leg with a sweet potato mash and lime jus. The leg is definitely the best so we graciously shared that and the breast. This is a solid dish and the pepper and lime cut through the richness of the meat and the sauce.

For dessert we tried the chocolate and hazelnut semifreddo. I hate to sound like my mum, but it just wasn't as good as the one I make at home. The hazelnut flavour tasted a bit fake and the chocolate tasted like a second grade milk chocolate rather than a top quality dark chocolate.

I will keep coming back here and will try more of the small and medium plates.

Good wine too and excellent service.

Cost is around $60.

Town Hall Hotel on Urbanspoon


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