What a lovely surprise I got when my boyfriend surprised me with a visit to The Press Club for our one-year anniversary!
On a Sunday night we made our way, a little early, to the city. We arrived at Little Press, the bar and small food restaurant next door and had a few drinks while we waited for our reservation.
The time came and we were escorted through the large wooden doors into the buzzing dining room. From the quiet surroundings we had come from it was a contrast! The room, smaller than expected from the outside was full to the brim! Tables of chatting, happy people were being served by expert staff while some lucky dinners sat at the chef table located just off the kitchen. From what I could see, and have heard from friends, the chefs table here allows you to watch the action take place, talk to the chefs and eat samples of different tastes of the day.
The cool leather welcomed us as our waitress (who may be my favourite wait person ever) seated us in our corner booth. There was something about the atmosphere that made you feel part of the ever-welcoming abundant Greek family table. I felt, throughout the night, along with the buzzing guests to the wonderful wait staff that I was being let into a family for the evening. Familiar goodbyes from patrons to chefs made this feeling stronger.
Now…to the food!
As we sipped our Champagne and looked over the menu, two different types of bread rolls, olives, olive oil and flavoured salt appeared to wet the appetite. One of the rolls exploded with an intense aniseed flavour, while the other had more seeds packed into it than I had ever seen! We were already excited for the flavours to come.
As the menu is mostly written in Greek, you have to go on the main ingredient, or get detailed descriptions from your waitress (I went with option two). We both decided to order the “Mushroom” for entrée.
This was not only a meal but it was an experience. Arriving in a round clear glass it looked more like a trifle than a mushroom dish. There were mushrooms, served with a bread sponge like base topped with feta cream and mushroom crumbs. It was one of the most flavoursome and delicious things I have ever eaten. With the mushrooms appearing in many forms and ways it was packed with that earthy flavour and richness. The only fault I would find with this meal is I found myself feeling fuller than I would have liked after an entrée.
For main, we again ordered the same, and went with the Bass Grouper. It was served with braised fennel, black garlic, prosciutto, spring onion, garlic chips and a herb and cheese creation. This creation was herbs and parmesan pressed into little green squares of intense flavour. The fish was cooked to perfection and the accompaniments were perfectly paired.
In an inability to choose we ordered three sides to share: the hand cut chips, the broccolini and the pumpkin with seeds and grains. The hands cut chips, served in a tiny wire deep fryer, were large, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. In a beautiful additional touch, they were accompanied with a straw, blocked at the bottom that was filled with herbed salt. The broccolini were served with a creamy sauce and sultanas, a great contrast of fresh, creamy and sweet. Finally the pumpkin and seeds was crunchy and sweet and probably outshone by the other two.
Dessert and surprises…
It was now that I was feeling beyond full! I however saw this as a rare opportunity so pushed through to dessert. I asked our waitress if we would be able to push dessert back a while to give us time to recover and she happily obliged. Before she left we ordered two of the ‘Chocolate’ dishes and two glasses of the Pedro Ximenez. To this she responded “Oh that’s a good choice, that’s something I would do!”…Are you starting to realize now why I loved her so much!?
As we waited we realized that there had been a blank envelope on our table the whole night we had somehow neglected to see…out of curiosity I opened it. To my surprise and of course delight it was a card, which read: “Happy Birthday Amy, love from George and the Press Club crew”. I was a little confused as to the reason seeing as it was our anniversary dinner, my boyfriend informed me that he had mentioned in passing my birthday being very close to our anniversary when making the reservation. If that isn’t detailed service I don’t know what is!!
When our dessert arrived, I was again blown away as I was presented with a plate that read… “Happy Birthday Amy”. I felt very special!
I was blown away again seconds later when I tasted the Chocolate creation in front of me! It was earl grey infused chocolate mousse served in a brandy snap type tube. This was accompanied by a chocolate and almond ‘crumb’ which I swear I will dream about! It was like chocolate biscuits melded into almond flavours. It had the texture of sand and tasted like heaven! To top off the meal, served on this delicious sand was little pieces of pear jelly, marinated pears and spoons of caramel sauce. Yep…CARAMEL SAUCE! Seriously what more can one plate offer you. Well…beautiful purple edible flowers. 10/10!
I walked away feeling extremely full and happy…almost like the feeling when you leave a big family dinner! The experience was wonderful. The team at The Press Club manage to marry abundance, a feeling of warmth and fine dining in the one experience. George Calombaris and his team have done an amazing job.
I would go again in a heartbeat, and suggest you do too!
For more information:
The Press Club
72 Flinders Street, Melbourne
(03) 9677 9677