TOP 100 QUEST: SAINT CRISPIN, Melbourne
I’d wanted to eat here for quite some time as I’d heard good things about it. Joe Grbac is formerly of The Press Club (which I loved!) and Scott Pickett from Estelle Bar and Kitchen (also very enjoyable). Both of these chefs coincidentally worked at London’s two-hatted The Square, but not at the same time.
You walk into a cool vibe – a healthy level of chatter, clatter and cool music – it feels comfortable and casual. The menu offers a choice of two courses for $50, three for $65 and a couple of tasting menu options. Compared to some of the restaurants I’ve been to lately, these prices looked good! Given that I’d just finished a five course lunch four hours prior, the thought of two courses was all I could handle.
The menu is quite short with a choice of five entrees, five mains, three sides and four desserts. I went for the lighter sounding dishes – a first for me – the fish double. To start with, the Ocean trout, enoki, sesame, samphire and bottarga, and then the John Dory, mussels, saffron angel hair and summer vegetable minestrone. The trout had been torched and seared, topped with bonito flakes and served in umami broth. A good dish. However, it’s the John Dory I feel compelled to rave about! It was the second best cooked piece of fish I’ve ever had – only just narrowly beaten by a piece of barramundi I had at Felix in Sydney a while back that I just can’t forget about. The dory skin was sooooo crispy and the fish cooked to perfection. Great firm texture – I didn’t want it to end. The saffron pasta was thin, beautifully light and slippery, sitting in a tasty minestrone. Happy. To accompany the food, some Sinapius Home Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 from Tasmania. It was nice to have a wine from my home state.
My partner had the Kangaroo loin, mastic, native plum and wild rosella flower. Served cold, it was fresh and tasty – a combination of tartare and thin slices of lightly seared roo. And after the waiter had talked it up, he had to order the Wagyu short rib and cheek, broccoli and smoked oyster. There was an extra $25 charge for this, but it was worth it. The wagyu was sourced from the Strathbogie Ranges and was cooked until it was so soft and smooth you didn’t even need a knife. He scored it a ten out of ten! We also ordered the side of Chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, tahini and cumin. Nice flavours but we would have been happier with a bit more cauliflower.
‘Affordable great food’ would sum this place up for me. Excellent value for money, good service and a buzzy atmosphere – what more could you want?!