For a long time, the foodie scene in the Melbourne CBD has had this sort of Jekyll and Hyde persona, whereby restaurants in the buzzy Flinders Lane pocket (aka. the Jekylls) at the Parliament end get all the foot traffic, while those lesser known – but not less deserving – (aka. the Hydes) mingle at the Southern Cross Station end.
Well Holy anecdote Batman!, it looks like Archie Green has broken this silly spell, delivering to us food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from an insanely talented Chef (with mad flavour skills), and away from those ridiculous 2+ hour waits on the other end of town! (Did I really just write “mad flavour skills”? Why, yes I did.)
Now, if you want to find out more fancy pants details, like the fact the Chef worked under a Michelin-starred chef in London, or how cool the fit-out is, then by all means, read Archie Green’s “First Look” article by Broadsheet. But if you want to read the really important stuff, like what we had for dinner and what we thought of it, keep scrolling 🙂
A quick nod to the ever-smiling and helpful servers who ensured we never wanted for anything, nor had an empty glass. Speaking of, we both started off with a glass of Simpson Valley Sauv Blanc, which was nice and crisp but a little too ‘bitey’ for our liking. Not ones to be held down for too long, we moved onto Nunc’s Pino Gris which hit the spot: delicate and smooth.
Okay so our nibbles didn’t quite go the way we wanted as the Warmed Olives were more bitter than our palettes were used to. But that not being an actual creation from the Chef, we munched through as many as we could handle and then eagerly awaited our ‘small’ plates.
So Hubby Bear ordered two small plates, which he had all to himself, one being a near-perfectly round Smoked Pig’s Cheek Croquette. The croquette was cooked just right, crispy on the outside but still packed full of moist meat. The little squirt of squid ink mayo on top seasoned it just enough to allow all that porkiness to still shine through. (Porkiness, /pork-ee-ness/ adjective: an intense flavour of pork delivered in a manner which one does not expect)
With all due respect to my meat eating hubby, I must say, that no matter how much he Oooh’d and Aaaaah’d his flavour-packed, silky-smooth Whipped Ōra King Salmon, as he scooped it up with torn bits of saltbush fougasse – it would never stack up to what I ordered!
So what did I have? Well, well, let me tell you! The Chef at Archie Green knows how to make a long-term vegetarian like me drool because I ate the most intensely flavoured vegetarian entree I’ve had in ages (drum-roll please): The Pumpkin tartare with an unseen cured hens yolk mixed in there somewhere. How do I describe this little morsel of goodness? Where do I begin? The crunchy little lettuce cup was a fresh balance to that salty, tangy binding which held the ‘tartare’ of pumpkin somewhat together. First bite was amazing, second bite was better, third – it was all gone. Mental note to self: order at least 3 next time.
Our next, and larger, plate was the Pickled daikon with fingers of fresh radishes laying atop an Über (no, not that Uber) generous dollop of Shaw River buffalo curd. We took turns filling spoonfuls of that soft white curd mixed with the black lime pistachio dukkah, while crunching into the radishes like rabbits. The cooling effect and softer flavour mixtures of this dish was a great balance to the previous.
But subtlety is clearly not the rule in this restaurant because the next plate delivered another gob-smacking OMG from the both of us, I tear up just thinking about it. Honestly, when both a carnivore and herbivore don’t want to share the same dish, that’s saying something. I would like to personally Thank the Chef for making this Pea & quinoa ragout a vegetarian dish that doesn’t sit anywhere near the level of ‘standard’ expectation. Don’t let the dish’s name make you think it’s one of those tasteless, ‘pea and something’ bowls of mush that other chefs find good enough to serve vegetarians (note to those other chefs, if you’re reading: I mean really, we’re vegetarian, not devoid of taste buds, get with the program!). Sorry for the rant, back to my point. So, I’m not sure if it was the hens yolk again, or the garlic chips, or what they did with the peas or the quinoa – all I know is that Hubby Bear kept eyeing me for more bites, and I kept ignoring his gaze.
As if that last dish didn’t top off my night, my actual main meal was charred broccoli which mushed up the chunks of feta it sat upon as I cut them into pieces. Cooked al dente, the smokiness of the broccoli was enhanced by the porcini vinaigrette, and filled out with lentils. Civility makes me want to say that finishing this entire plate was a result of my upbringing, but honesty demands that I say: I was just being the vegetable version of Augustus Gloop.
Hubby Bear’s eyes widened with the delivery of his gorgeous white plate with a curve of smoked eggplant underneath a thick slice of roast pork. He just smiled with each crunch of the crackling. Treating his plate almost like the opening of a gift on Christmas morning, he cut, dipped into the eggplant, and tipped a bite-size portion of that salsa-like mixture of grapefruit and jalapeños onto his fork and proceeded to clean his plate systematically until it was all gone.
You don’t come this far in your dining adventure and not get desert. Well, at least that’s what I told Hubby Bear, who stared at my bottomless-pit of an appetite that night. (Note: I blame the Chef for this unusual behaviour) So we finished off with another amazing dish – can this night get much better? A lemongrass posset (and really, who knows what a posset is? I was just so confident in everything that came out of the kitchen by this point I was living on the edge when I ordered it!) that has all my favourite things: grilled peach, ginger granita, and lemon balm. Refreshing, cleansing, and probably the most perfect way to end an evening of over-eating!
As if we need to give you a recommendation by this point. Whether you frolic to this budding part of town to enjoy brekky, lunch or dinner, it’s time to get your taste buds to Archie Green. Vegetarians, pescatarians, meat-a-arians, come one, come all – finally a place that got the mixture right! 🙂
Value: N/A – we dined as guests at Archie Green.
Address: 10 Katherine Place, Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia
Tip! There is plenty of parking within an easy 90 second stroll, so don’t hesitate to gather up a heap of your friends and meet here for drinks then dinner.