Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fine Dining Review: The Press Club (Melbourne, Australia)

The Press Club (no stars)

This is the flagship restaurant of Melbourne celebrity chef George Calombaris. Due to the popularity of Masterchef, Calombaris (Masterchef judge) has flooded the media.....too bad his food doesn't match his hype and reputation. Whether his recent media frenzy distractions and empire expansion have compromised the quality of The Press Club is unclear but definitely not enough to warrant a 2nd visit.....both Ducasse and Robuchon have managed to gather so many Michelin stars without compromising reputation and quality.

We opted for the degustation menu. Bread was served with kalamata and wild olives in a wonderful olive oil and black salt. The 1st two courses were so badly planned that they arrived around the same time....before I even had a bite at my first course! Yes, this is the norm at my local Chinese restaurant but not at this "2 hat" restaurant.

2 courses served concurrently
Unfortunately, there were no "wow" moments throughout and the was more molecular gastronomy gimmickry than true application of technique.

The deep fried quail was one of the highlights but that too was foiled by presence of a quail bone in the dish (yes, the dish was meant to be presented de-boned). 

The bangalow pork dish was, unfortunately, boring and disjointed....the pork crackling not overwhelmingly crackly and the "Aussie" spin in the form of a pork Chiko Roll completely made no sense in terms of flavour and textural integration with the rest of the dish.

Bangalow pork
The signature slow cooked lamb (cooked over 16 hours) was flavoursome.....more like nana's except a lot more $$$.

Signature slow-cooked lamb
Desert was ambitious but with too much molecular gimmickry.....Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of molecular gastronomy, having thoroughly enjoyed eating through Spain, but only when applied appropriately.

The service was good but not great, and accompanied by an interesting wine list. The sommelier, talented as he may be, unfortunately assumed that I was not worthy enough to know much about his rarer wine varietals and spent minimal effort explaining his matching or even the actual varietal offered.....That is not until I identified his choice of Marsanne, did he decide to take us more seriously! This is quite unacceptable for a supposedly top restaurant.

Desert - chocolate mousse, bits and soil with sprinkles of nuts

I really wanted to like The Press was a good experience but nothing memorable and a fairly dear one. Nevertheless, the place is crowded, and everyone seemed happy and satisfied.......

Fine Dining Rating: 14/20

By Gastronomic G.

Rating explained:
Scores 18 to 20 = *** (3 stars) = World class and close to perfection
Scores 16 to <18 = ** (2 stars) = An exceptional and special dining experience
Scores 15 to <16 = * (1 star) = Very good to great dining experience
Scores 13 to <15 = Good but not memorable
Scores 10 to <13 = Acceptable
Scores <10 = Are you sure you want to eat here?


  1. Hmm...disappointing, George. Nothing to write home about!

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