Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Middle Park Hotel

102 Canterbury Rd
Middle Park VIC 3206
ph: 9690 1958

Hello mes amis! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve parlayed at ya, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the tedium of work and sorting through piles of filing and receipts.

“Don’t tell us about your humdrum existence, Christophe!” I hear you thinking. “What I want is some great food tips on eateries and other cake hole inspired topics.

Well you can relax. This is the first in a couple of entries, because now I’ve cleared a space on my desk I can now focus on everybody’s favourite topic: tuck!

OK; so recently I was puzzling over where (oh where???) could we book the staff from Blue Vapours (great guys, check them out) to go out for their annual corporate planning day lunch? To date we’d done Pearl, Ezard (basement of the Adelphi), and Madame Sousous (Brunswick St). How could we top them?

The gauntlet was thoroughly thrown down, and all eyes turned to moiself, the food guru. Could he do it again? And how much was he prepared to spend?

I tried hard and did my research, but seemingly to little avail. The winner of the Age Good Food Guide best restaurant 2010, the chef of the year award 2011 (Ben Shewry), and only Melbourne restaurant to get in the San Pelligrino international food guide (who even knew they had one? I wonder what Bislerri thinks?) – Attica – didn’t take bookings for lunch.

And call me crazy, but I kind of baulk at the very idea of Vue de Monde with it’s exorbitant price tag. Can it really be justified? Rockpool? Maze? But do I want to hang out at Crown, or make that wrinkle headed prune Gordon Ramsay any richer?

I started trawling guides and haunting the back streets of the CBD, the date drawing ever closer and my alarm bells ringing. Where would I book? Two and three hat restaurants looked like they were offering sculptural artworks in church where you pay a premium to be intimidated, steak houses just looked too awful. And then I found it. The Middle Park Hotel.

At this point in my review I have to declare my hand. My cousin Chris McKenzie (known as CJ to staff) is/was (?) the bar manager there. I was blowing the top off a couple of frothies with him, pretending to be Billy Brownless, when he said -
“Don’t go to any of those fancy pants places. Come here! We’ve got a top chef and I swear we’re about to get a hat. It’s really good.”

Well we did, and it was.

The first thing you need to know about the menu is that it’s all about the meat. And old world meat at that. The menu is littered with items like scotch eggs, ham hocks, black pudding and duck liver parfait (OK, vegetarians are now doing 360’s in their graves, but I’m salivating). Patrons? They were predominantly flush faced men over sixty with a predilection for fine meats and red wine. It was like hitting the jack-pot of a Chinese restaurant in Melbourne filled with Chinese diners. We’d clearly landed at a gastro-pub Mecca; heart attack ground zero.

Steaks? Oh yeah, you know it. I had the top of the line and have to say I probably would have been happier down a rung or two; it was a super aged hung steak with marrow and parsley. A bit too old world for my chops; I’m not a huge marrow man – though I did have flashes in my mind of M eating a marrow bone at his club with a long silver spoon. Still, delicious, and everyone was nodding their heads around the table.

Oysters? Four types – but don’t bother shopping around, take it from the horse’s mouth: the Tasmanian were plumpest, cleanest of palate and nicest of colour.

Wine? The restaurant had a French sommelier (wine waiter) and an impressive wine list; pages and pages. Thank heavens we were able to take direction.

Now I haven’t been paid a cracker for this review, but it really was worth a look; up there with the Station Hotel in Footscray. I give it seven tentacles out of eight.

If you go, say hi to CJ for me!! To find out more, visit:



Unknown said...

Middle Park Hotel. Sounds wonderful - a true carnivore carnival. Thanks Kit