Food and Drink

   

The Town Mouse

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A lot has been written about Mexican and American BBQ being that latest crazes to hit our fair city, but I reckon the contributions of Kiwi’s in Melbourne’s kitchens hints at an even bigger Antipodean trend (case for the prosecution: Huxtable, Small Victories, Piqueos, Rockwell & Sons.)

The latest is The Town Mouse, which opened last week in-the-spot-formally-known-as Embrasse. Owner Christian McCabe, who formerly ran Wellington’s Matterhorn (NZ Restaurant of the Year 2008) and Honky Tonks, has made the new place a family affair with sister Amber McCabe (previously Longrain) and her husband Jay Comeskey (previously St Ali) at the helm.

Inside the guts of the old Embrasse have been re-imaged by Allistair Cox. There are high timber tables, sleek black tiled walls and a feel (complimented by the menu typography) not unlike Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But with better food.

That food is courtesy of head chef Dave Verheul (Matterhorn), who has constructed a seasonal menu that’s sophisticated without being fussy. As is the way these days, the emphasis is on share plates.

We started with goat’s cheese profiterole, caraway, thyme & our honey ($3). The honey comes courtesy of the bees that live on the rooftop thanks to Melbourne City Rooftop Honey and nicely compliments the cheese. Less successful was the under-seasoned crab and gurnard terrine with salted lemon curd, nori, pea leaves and crab essence ($20).

Things picked up with the venison tartare, pickled radish, nashi pear, ginger & wasabi ($15). It was described by my dining mate as the best she’d ever had. The deer is flown in from NZ with mini croutons and radish added a satisfying crunch. I love venison in all its forms, and the gamey notes lends itself amicably to the tartare technique.

However my pick of the lot was the beef cheek, whipped white soy cream, black garlic, parsnip & yuzu ($26). Verheul soaks the cheek in a salt solution for hours then braises it with soy and liquorice root before coating it in potato starch. The result: an impressive hunk of beef with a crisp interior that falls apart at the first pass of the fork. It was supurb.

It’s worth mentioning that vegetarians are well catered for here with five considered mains that are significantly more that side dishes. The slow roast red cabbage, prune, parmesan & red apple ($14) and fried fresh corn polenta, pine, lime & pecorino ($11) looked worthy of further investigation.

For a sit down sort of fancy meal or a nibble with some wine, The Town Mouse is well worth it.

THE TOWN MOUSE
312 Drummond Street Carlton
9347 3312
Wed – Sun midday till late
thetownmouse.com.au


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