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

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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?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Metropolitan Hotel

36-42 Courtney St (Cnr Blackwood St)
North Melbourne

Have you ever had one of those moments, walking into a restaurant or hotel you’ve never been to before and felt like yelling out ‘Darling, I’m home!’ as you toss an imaginary brown leather satchel into the corner and recline onto a leather chaise lounge and tilt your hat over your eyes?

Well that’s how I felt when I walked into the Metropolitan Hotel for lunch the other day. Fan-friggin-tastic. Want to come in and take a look?

What can I say? Old stain glass windows. Traditional wooden bar. Beer. And what beer! Taps and taps of it. An old dining room, reminiscent of my Mum’s dining room, with old furniture, white table clothes and playing Nat King Cole over the audio system as we were seated.

But the pièce de résistance? What the restaurant specialises in. You know I am going to hell for this, and the planet getting burned to a cinder by our profligate farming practices, but I don’t care if this is what it means. You got it. Steaks!

Oh gosh, just even writing these words makes me come over all gushy and want to skive of down the pub… again.

OK, now I’d better just lower your expectations a little. It’s not perfect. The staff say things like ‘Have youse decided what to order yet?’ The antique chairs in the dining room are beginning to go in the bum a bit (like us all), and the tables are a little rocky. The floor creaks and there are fat blokes sitting around in suits.

But this place is about nostalgia. Pub nostalgia for an era that may never have existed but is even more glorious for that. You know, that kind of yellow light memory you have while you’re experiencing something? Golden and glowing and pure, because you realise you’re witnessing the end of days of something; a perfect pearl sitting in a glass of vinegar that Cleopatra holds while licking her lips. Something pure and refined, but kind of sad too. With beer on tap.

I’ve noticed recently that North Melbourne has a treasure trove of gourmet pubs. There’s the Royal Park hotel about two blocks from the Metropolitan (OK, a bit uni style, with hand crotched art on the walls and used brown couches – but carpet bagger steaks! – like the seventies never ended!), and I suspect dozens more venues hiding around the back streets. This may in fact be one of my new ventures, to go out and seek every back street North Melbourne gastro pub scenario. And then maybe I’ll turn my sites on Seddon.

I had the aged poterhouse with red wine jus and side orders of rosemary potatoes and a green salad, washed down with a very serviceable Heathcote Shiraz. There were five of us (rather than the four in my previous entry), we drank more, and it still came out to cost less than Shakahari… and animals gave their lives for our meals! (Bless them, they did not die in vain).

So obviously, you know I liked it. Stuff it, I loved it. Give me more please. This isn’t fine dining. Not in the strict sense. There are no velvet gloves emptying your pockets, and it’s a bit too earthy to be posh. But it’s my style. I guess I must be a fat gutted, middle aged bloke (on the inside, bursting to get out through the veneer of urbane and svelt intelligentsia) who really likes drinking beer, red wine and eating steaks in convivial surrounds. The verdict? A strong six and a half tentacles out of eight. Forza!


Anonymous said...

Actually had a good meal in Wangaratta Saturday night at Watermark – and good local and SA wines.
Xxx (also loving M Chef – loved last night in the Big Apple)

Have been making great mulled wine – mixture of two recipes on web – with red wine, sugar, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks, and one sliced orange. Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Oh God you’re good!

Laugh! My PF had a workout as I had to keep a tight grip on the situation so I could finish reading the entire thing.

We had our Christmas function at the Metropolitan....in the Bargain Basement downstairs. It was fucking awful and I had to eat gnocchi with diced vegetables (origin: a packet) and a smear of what I think was olive tapenade. Deb also had to sidestep a dead and rather squashed mouse on an inspection of the joint the week beforehand..a mouse smear…

Love to you and all the BV crew.

PS Life here is interminably dull (except for your emails) and there are too many knobs in the joint

Anonymous said...

And try the Crimean a block east of the Royal Park