I’m going to be taking a brief break from my Sydney food reviews and focus on Melbourne a bit this week – pubs, specifically. Probably because I’m looking forward to an epic parma date with some good friends of mine in a couple of days.
My parents are ridiculously fussy when it comes to food – the place can’t be too far, the cuisine can’t be too exotic, the serves can’t be too big OR too small – you get the general idea.
Instead of buying them unwanted gifts every Christmastime, I prefer to take them out for dinner, despite my knowing the above. It’s always horribly stressful, but I am stubborn and determined to find places they will like.
I’d heard fantastic things about The Station Hotel in Footscray from fellow EDS writer Ryan, and thought I might take the folks there to spoil them a bit. I’d drive so none of that parking palaver, they could drink etc. All they would have to do is be ready when asked!
So on a fateful Saturday evening, we all set off. I was keen for the parentals to enjoy and was actually pretty nervous.
Mum was none too keen on the menu initially, and flat-out refused to entertain the notion of having an entree, as did Dad. Our lovely waitress dutifully informed us of the specials, and upon her quite passionate recommendation, I chose an entree serve of the Balmain bugs. This special was also available on the evening as a main. My partner had the blue cheese and leek tart.
Bugs of the seafood variety look positively prehistoric, but I’d been eager to try them for years. The meat is not dissimilar to that of, say, prawns or lobster. For such frightening things, they were tender morsels indeed. They came with a rocket salad that I must confess was a little too salty for my liking and liberally splashed with olive oil. I rather love my vegies without salt (yes, scary, I know) so it might be worth pointing out that this could be a personal preference thing, rather than my faulting the kitchen.
I did get a taste of the cheese and leek tart which was just perfect – the filling melted in your mouth immediately and had just the right amount of pungent blue. A stealthy glance noted that the partner thought it fab too: every last crumb was devoured.
Then, to the mains. Partner and I shared the wagyu ‘rostbiff’, cooked medium-rare with bearnaise sauce.
Dad had the pork cutlets, and Mum had an entire flounder to herself – the fish of the day.
Ah sweet triumph. As soon as Mum tried her dish, she declared it to be good and even said so several times without being prompted. My heart was a good deal lighter knowing that she was really enjoying it! Dad, less fussy than Mum heartily tucked into his pork chops. Both parents offered me a taste of their mains. Mum’s fish was cooked perfectly and accompanied by a fragrant salad with parsley and basil which suited it wonderfully. It was a more subtle taste palate to what Dad had, with chilli – just enough for heat, and some good quality chorizo.
The wagyu rostbiff was such a treat, and though initially looked like too little for the two of us, was just right size-wise (cheers again Ryan for that tip!). I think I might have preferred my bearnaise on the side so I could dip cuts of meat into it as desired (the rostbiff was drowning in the sauce). The sides of salad and hand-cut chips were just amazing. All too often they are looked upon as secondary to the meat, but in this case, all three were equal players. I want to know how they get their damned chips so tasty!
The folks were right into the spirit of dining by this stage, and even consented to have afters. Mum chose a traditional bread and butter pudding and Dad took up the opportunity to get reacquainted with some good Bishop Cropwell Stilton. Mum laughed at my child-like glee as I cracked the burnt sugar on my crème brulee (I may have got a little excited, I confess) and the partner had chocolate cake. Pictured below is Dad’s cheese platter, and Mum’s pudding.
Despite the Station Hotel being so far from where I currently live, I’d be eager to make the trek out again to try more things on their menu. The dining room is stylish without being intimidating, and the service was spot-on: attentive, friendly, and genuinely interested in their patrons. It’s expensive for pub fare, but you aren’t paying for standard pub fare: this is impressive pub food worth shelling out for every so often. In fact, am planning to get my folks to take me there for my birthday dinner.