Our mate Lindsey is an epic foodie and had mentioned that he really liked Ron O’Bryan’s food when he was head chef at Church St Enoteca. I’d never eaten there but when we found out that Ron would be cheffing at a place called NorthSouth*, an expedition was proposed (though he wasn’t in on the night we dined). I was going to joke about what an inconvenience crossing the river is but who am I kidding: living in suburbia is inconvenient.
Incidentally, I was always rather fond of the insinuation that Wordsworth liked and romanticised suburbia because it afforded him the pleasure of playing with himself whilst locked up in his shed, free from interruption. True story.
Sorry about the rad but inappropriate literary trivia. Can’t help it.
NorthSouth is located in South Yarra. Whilst driving past it the other day, I noticed that they also have their Twitter username proudly emblazoned upon their window. Yea!
To start with, the six of us shared saffron and fontina arancini and the selection of artisan cured meats and salumi with hand-rolled grissini. Yea for cornichons and mustard on the latter!
After an attentive staff member came out to ask if there were any dietary issues they needed to note, these beauties appeared in front of us – pea soup. Hit the spot given we were dining on a dreary, rainy day.
Alissa gave me much food envy by ordering the crisp fried zucchini flowers filled with marinated feta, tomato ragout, lemon mayo which looked just perfect. The batter looks like a mere hint!
To follow, she went with a special on the night of roasted king brown mushroom, new season asparagus, woodside goats curd and aged balsamic.
By stark contrast, Colin beefed it up and began with a beef tartare with harissa aioli and handcut chips – one of the prettiest dishes out of the ones we chose. He seemed fairly enthusiastic for its taste too.
As if that wasn’t enough…he went for the classic steak for his main too.
Given that I had a lot of the cured meat at the beginning and considered that a starter, I chose the humble spaghetti carbonara. It’s a bit of a comfort dish. This rendition had a beautiful poached egg in the middle. Overall, it was a touch too salty for me but in fairness, I don’t tend to like a lot of salt in things so that aside, I’d still recommend it.
Suz also chose a pasta main – the penne with broccolini, chilli, lemon, anchovies and pangrattato. The wise lass (ie. not fat bastard like the rest of us, hehehe) chose not to order an entree.
Both Lindsey and Tristan got the special braised rabbit leg and spring vegetables risotto offered which didn’t quite live up to expectations. The general consensus seemed to be that it has a little too much liquid – perhaps it was more ragout-like?
While Tristan had grazed on arancini as an entree, Lindsey got the semolina dusted calamari, endive, fennel, almond & parsley salad which he seemed chuffed about.
All of us had dessert. It’s interesting to note that while the desserts offered seemed very typical, they all had special twists to make them memorable. For example, there was a pear frangipane tart with creme anglaise – scented with star anise.
Then the good old vanilla bean-flecked pannacotta – with grated Granny Smith apple, and apple and cinnamon granita.
Lastly, a creme brulee – of raspberry and white chocolate. Should have got a shot of this in medias res, come to think of it!
NorthSouth offers some good staple dishes (this is snobbily based on the assumption you live in Melbourne and are all cosmopolitan-like…) and does them well, largely with a touch of finesse. The service is excellent it feels equally at home as a place to have a casual coffee or have a special meal with fussy Asian parents (I have mine in mind!). The menu changes with the seasons so there may very well be completely different offerings to what we ate on this occasion.
However, it is their breakfasts that are currently the buzz: recently they even had a breakfast degustation. Once I work out my ratshit sleeping pattern, I can’t wait to return and sample said wonderful breakfasts some of which is detailed in Claire’s appetite-whetting blog post!
NB. Ron is no longer at NorthSouth, so we all missed him, dagnabbit