Long table lunches are a beautiful thing. All the more so when it is set up in a dramatic, graffiti lined laneway, tables are adorned with colourful orchids, the menu is a shared affair and the sun is shining. Ok potentially it could be argued that the sun was shining a little too much on this particular Saturday when the temperature gauge cracked through 39, but sun is always going to be better than rain and an abundance of sunshine is becoming quite synonymous with the Beaufort Street Festival. So the scene was set!
Slightly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the festival, diners can sit back, relax, eat and drink before they take part in the madness of the street.
This lunch was held by Beaufort St resident St Michael 6003. This beautiful restaurant is a joint venture between the talented teams from Red Cabbage and Petite Mort and offers a small plates menu. I first visited in August 2014 and seriously loved it their creativity. I returned in January 2015, when I got to pick a venue for a work dinner. It is really fun when I get to pick, means I only have myself to blame if I am disappointed and I knew I wouldn’t have been on that occasion.
Now for this lunch I had seen the menu beforehand and I was pretty excited to see how it translated as the St Michaels’ teams favoured minimal descriptions of their dishes and just direct mentions of key ingredients, so that mystery surrounded what would actually appear.
Red Roast Chicken, Cucumber + Coriander
Honey Glazed Pork Belly, Cabbage, Mustard + Fried Yolks
Ocean Trout, Charred Cos, Buttermilk + Crackling
Chocolate, Toast + Doughnuts
Along with delicious food and the glass of fizz in hand (always a great way to kick off the festivities) a big plus about long table lunches is that you are bound to meet some lovely people, fellow foodies, and it makes for fun and lively conversation and a generally wonderful day out.
The assembled crowd was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the food. We began with freshly baked bread accompanied by their signature Vegemite whipped butter and the classic combination of olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Still slightly warm from the oven and it was one of those occasions when as much as you wanted to polish off an entire life you had to try to exercise some restraint, but it definitely wasn’t easy!
It was then time for the first official course, Red Roast Chicken, Cucumber + Coriander. Now let me tell you about this chicken. It was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I’m not sure what sort of magical techniques they had utilised in the kitchen, potentially a deep fryer was involved, but it was perfectly crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside and just so darn tasty! And they were such generous pieces too. If St Michaels ever want to set up a side business I think they should seriously consider selling buckets of this chicken because it would race out the door. The accompanying salad too was zesty and refreshing. It was such a solid first course and if the Vegemite butter and freshly sliced bread hadn’t done it already, then this special chooken had well and truly kick started our taste buds into action! We merrily chatted away and looked forward to seeing what was next.
I’ll admit this course was different to what I had expected, but a healthy dash of surprise is also somewhat synonymous with St Michael so I was pleased they had delivered on this front too. I had expected the pork belly you commonly see around the traps, with a decent layer of meat, decadent rendered fat and a crunchy crackly top. This appeared to me an entirely creative spin on ham and eggs. Honey Glazed Pork Belly, Cabbage, Mustard + Fried Yolks. The pork had been sliced into strips and had a rich flavour, slightly smoked and that paired perfectly with the tang of the pickled cabbage and the slight crunch coming from those crispy, crumbed egg yolks. I had tried these in another life with one of my first introductions to Chef Scott’s culinary talents at a Largesse Dinner and getting to revisit them was a delight. Whilst I do love a soft yolk, having them this way was equally as impressive. I can only imagine it would be fiddly business and I felt a wave of gratitude at the efforts involved to adorn this dish with those numerous golden spheres. Bravo to the kitchen on another delicious course – flavours, mystery, crispy yolks, it had it all!
Fair to say that by this point that the ravenous appetite that we had all arrived with had been slightly dented after the finger licken chicken and that mountain of perfect pork, but the ocean trout looked beautiful! Ocean Trout, Charred Cos, Buttermilk + Crackling. With the skin crisped into dramatic shards, a drizzle of buttermilk dressing and charred cos it was too pretty not to try! We would just have to find room. The trout had been cooked perfectly and flaked off into indulgently tender pieces. I would never have thought to roast lettuce, but it worked a treat with the fish, kept the whole dish quite light.
There was a brief interlude at this point as we readied ourself for dessert. And wowsers did we need readying! Chocolate, Toast + Doughnuts.
While the decadent chocolate creation that we each received would likely had sated our sweet tooth, why stop there when you had your choice of three different filled donuts! I mean come on! Who can say no to that! Delivered all lined up in wooden boxes and looking divine, their numbers soon dwindled because it’s a fact that no one can resist a donut.
It was an epic lunch, so very memorable with the abundance of delicious and creative food, wonderful Rockcliffe Wines and the chance to chat with some lovely people. My thanks to the St Michael’s team for putting on some an incredible event and for the invitation they extended to me.
If you haven’t visited St Michael 6003 before then definitely keep in in mind for a special night out in the future. It is a great spot and with a creative menu highly focused on seasonal and local ingredients, the small plates they are serving up do truly shine.