If I lived in Melbourne I think I might just make The Palace Hotel my local. Not least of the reasons would be that it would house my regular local dining spot: The Palace by Luke Mangan. As a Sydney girl, with his Glass restaurant one of my favourite haunts, I decided on a recent day trip to try out Luke’s Melbourne dining establishment. It was a business lunch. My guest Michael was impressed. But, I could just as easily see myself with a bunch of friends eating there in any season and on any day or night of the week.
I had checked out the menu online before arrival. It read well, well-suited for pub dining, though a bit more classy than your typical local, lots of choices of steaks, and a mix of Aussie flair with European classicism and Asian influence. Luke Mangan is a lad, and a Melbourne born lad at that, so on his return home with this restaurant, I particularly enjoyed that he threw a bit of Aussie flavour into the mix on the menu. We chose …
Celeriac and Truffle soup, prawn ceviche, quail egg, Avruga caviar
St Helens Pacific oysters, Blue Swimmer crab, Asian herbs
Tuna carpaccio, ginger eschallot dressing, goats feta, rocket
Crab omelette, Asian salad, miso mustard broth
Filet Mignon, carrot puree, baby corn and corgette, mushrooms, onion jam Bearnaise
and by the glass we enjoyed …
2010 Tothra Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough NZ
2005 Carlei ‘Green Vineyard’ Shiraz, Heathcote VIC
I waxed lyrical about the Amuse Bouche and could have broken into the Sound of Music’s “These are a few of my favourite things”. In case you didn’t know it, I’m an egg girl. Talk about subtlety and wow factor rolled up into one. The feathery celeriac cream protected hidden treasures. You can read the menu, but now that I’ve reminded you that I’m an egg girl, can you guess what unexpected treasure delighted me most? There was a beautiful cooked whole little quail egg in the creamy soup. As I broke into it, the yolk spilled into the soup, into my mouth and created a dream. A 5 star dish.
My guest, a business guest is usually most formal. But, he jumped up and down, and nearly literally, with what he called the tastes of the sea. That mix of oysters and crab and herbs, well, it really worked, and was oh so fresh in the mouth. A lovely, just lovely starter.
I am also a ginger girl! I delight in ginger of all forms. And, I delighted in this. The ginger was fresh mild and engaging. It was just at the fore and the other flavours supported it. Light, fresh, and summery, and a great lunchtime choice.
While Luke Mangan wasn’t in Melbourne at the time to cook my omelette, MJ did a stirling job. An omelette is not an easy thing. This was just right. Light, fluffy, moist and just a little bit wet still in the centre. My guest Michael was taken with this too. He and I loved the broth. This is now my special 2 city dish, as it’s also a signature at Glass.
Then it was onto the steak. Cooked just the way I like it with a nod to BBQ in the sides and a clever onion jam bearnaise atop. I didn’t quite finish it. I was full as a goog and quite aware that I also had a dinner to go to that night. Even the puffy white pavlovas I’d been watching depart the kitchen all service couldn’t, try as they might, tempt me to take another bite. All the more reason that “I’ll be back”.
Special thanks to Christian and his team on the floor and MJ and his team in the kitchen. I think you’re doing a terrific job.
The Palace by Luke Mangan
505 City Rd
South Melbourne VIC 3205
+61 3 9699 6410