Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dining at Tobie Pottuck's The Kitchen Cat Melbourne

On my recent trip to Melbourne I dined at Tobie Pottuck's The Kitchen Cat. I was with family who had eaten there before and told me I would really enjoy it. So I figured, why not? From the entrance of the restaurant I was intrigued. If you have never been its in an alley way and the entrance is like something our of the 18th Century, you feel like you are being taken back in time. As I walked down  the stairs I was greeted by a window of curing meats, rather like a lolly shop window, but salty not sweet! I was told later by Tobie the meats are all handmade in the restaurant.  Its not totally appealing really, I didn't think wow, get me some of that meat!! None the less it was interesting and I peered through the glass to take a close look to see if they were real and curiously stare at them for no reason other than they were there, wondering why these ugly chunks of meat were made a feature. Then I turned right to this gorgeous and inviting atmosphere. A large marble bar table with walls of wine was at the front of the restaurant. I don't drink wine, but I like a child, I wanted to touch the boomerang marble bar table because it was so smooth and stare up at the colourful array of bottles, because they looked pretty! We were warmly greeted and shown to our tables. The waitstaff are all dressed in smart casual and it instantly put me at ease. I didn't have to act a certain way, I was dressed appropriately and now I couldn't wait to be seated and see what was on the menu.
The menu was full of different dishes, like fried pigs ears! What mind thinks of cutting up pigs ears, crumbing them and deep frying? All I could think of, "Don't dogs chew on pigs ears?" So naturally, we ordered them! You can't knock it till you try it right! We also ordered, the pork, grilled cheese, wild olives, and shin tortellini for our starters. The star of the starters had to be the shin tortellini.

The thinly sliced pork salad.

Grilled cheese

The tortellini with shin and in a burnt butter sauce

Wild Australian olives

And of course, the fried pigs ears with lemon! They look good and of course tasted good too!!
You will have to forgive me and I hope I don't offend Tobie, but I can't remember the actual names for all the dishes and the correct name for the cheeses too. The cheeses all have different names, but I am new to this review thing, and I hope to get better at making sure I have the correct names for the dishes! What really matters is how they taste and I have to tell you that the Tortellini was my favourite of the all the starters and I am still dreaming about eating it. The sauce was amazing and I love how the meat, tasted like real slow cooked meat and nothing else! I have had handmade tortellini before but this really was the best I have ever had and I was scooping up the sauce on my fork(tempted to ask for a spoon) until there was nothing left! I had to excuse myself though, as it wasn't actually my dish choice, but my sister-in-law didn't mind! It sounds like a lot of food, but it was sufficient for all 7 guests at our table and we couldn't wait for our mains. I ordered the white polenta with mushrooms and with an Italian cheese. Again, there is a name for it but I can't remember it, all you need to know was it was sensational! It looked a bit like brie without the white crust and  with a similar creamy texture but had a bite to it like parmesan but it was also a little bit sweet, if that makes sense! I loved it and slowly ate each bit savouring the flavours and aromas.
My hubby ordered the organic chicken which was stuffed with parsley and cheese. The chicken was juicy and cooked to perfection. The stuffing, was nice, but not as flavourful as I had hoped it would be. To go from white polenta, which is a bland dish to having so many wonderful flavours that made the dish amazing, I would have thought the same would be with the chicken. It was still lovely and enjoyable to eat.

The photos of the food ends here because my camera was running out of battery power and I was hoping to catch a pic with Tobie as he was present in the kitchen that evening. I have to mention one other dish though, my sister-in-law had the roast lamb, which had been cooking since 10am that morning and it was so divine. The meat melted in the mouth and the flavour rustic, but rich and .....yummy!!!  By the end of our main meals we were all full to our maximum capacities! I so badly wanted to choose something from the 'sweeties' menu but I knew there was no way I could fit it in, nor enjoy it. So we ended our dining experience there. I did manage to score a chat with Tobie. He is a lovely man. He was happy to chat and talk about what we thought of the meals and the dining experience. I told him that I loved the menu and the of course the tortellini which was the highlight and the cheese on the polenta! He explained how the staff makes a lot of the cured meats on site and some cheeses, although the cheese on my dish is imported from Italy as it is made and aged a specific way, hence the intense but sweet flavour. Now it made sense to me why the hanging meats are a feature as you enter the restaurant. To showcase what they make on site. Click!
My camera just had enough juice to take this pic and then it died! So it's a little blurry. Thanks goes to Tobie for being a great guy and chatting with me. He runs a great establishment. I would consider most of the dishes to have a rustic direction married well with contemporary flavours. I wish there was one here in Sydney, because I would be there every month! I have not had a dining experience before where I all can think about is the food and wanting to have those flavours again and again! The prices are very reasonable, mains averaged around $25-$30, so very affordable dinning. The menu does change, so you may not got what we had. When calling, ask if they are making the shin tortellini!!

Thanks Tobie:) Looking forward to the next time I go to Melbourne so I can eat there again or consider opening one here in Sydney, pretty please:)


The Kitchen Cat
115/117 Collins St
Melbourne VIC
1300 799 415

1 comment:

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