The Graham – Port Melbourne

The Graham
Cnr Graham Street and Esplanade
Port Melbourne  VIC 
03 9676 2566
Open: Daily for Lunch 12 – 3pm;  Dinner 6 – 10pm

One night, wanting something a little bit different, my other half Andrew and I ventured down to Port Melbourne to dine at one of good friend iMac’s favourite watering holes.  I had been here many times for dinner, but this was Andrew’s first time – well overdue!

The Graham has a lovely ambience inside – there are two dining areas, one is the main dining area, and the other, where we were seated tonight – which is generally used for larger groups and functions.  Tonight it was set with a few smaller tables, so it was just us and some other smallish groups – which was very spacious and relaxing.

Bread and butter

The bread and butter was brought out to us even before we’d ordered which is unusual, but I didn’t mind it at all.  Especially since that bread was so amazingly beautiful – it was warm and had a fantastic sourdough tang. Gorgeous!

Tempura Prawns, Wasabi Mayo, Radish Salad & Shiso

I decided to start with the tempura prawns – these were beautiful.  The batter was thin, although not as crunchy as they could be due to the salad on top.  Nonetheless, they were still lovely and fresh and the flesh was perfectly cooked. The salad was fantastic and had a great balance and there was a creamy dressing to help bring everything together, with just a little bit of heat from the wasabi.

Pork Belly, Cauliflower Puree, Morcilla, Apple, Pedro Ximenez  Reduction

Oh my goodness – this dish was amazing. The cauliflower puree was smooth and creamy, and the morcilla sausage (or black pudding) was so amazingly flavoursome – it was a brilliant complement to the fattiness of the port.  Add to that the sweet acidity of the apple, and the sherry reduction and you have a complete meal!  Highly recommended!

Crisp Skin Snapper, Chilli Jam, Green Mango Tahi Salad, Sweet and Sour Dressing

Another great dish with a fantastic balance of flavours.  The snapper was cooked to perfection, and the salad was a riot of aromatics, and sweet and sour flavours that perfectly complemented the creamy flesh of the fish. The onion jam lent a real earthy heat that didn’t overwhelm the dish. An excellent study bringing together the best out of everything on the plate.

Chargrilled ‘1824’ Scotch Fillet, Cauliflower and Potato Gratin,
Broccolini, Onion Jam, Anchovy and Peppercorn Butter

The scotch fillet was the only cut of beef on the menu – and Andrew is usually an eye fillet man, but he decided to see how he’d go.  He found the meat to be tough in parts and a bit inconsistent in its texture.  He also thought the flavour was a bit pedestrian – but that may be because he ditched the anchovy butter which would have provided quite a bit of seasoning to the dish.  The cauliflower and potato gratin was lovely though.  He felt that for $40, it wasn’t really worth what we’d paid – especially when there are so many good steaks around Melbourne’s gastropubs!

When the waiter asked for feedback, we told him our thoughts about the steak and he explained that the chef knew that scotch wasn’t exactly the most tender cut of meat – but preferred to it over fillet because it was more forgiving when patrons asked for it to be cooked medium through to well done.  Personally, I don’t think it’s very respectful of chefs to dictate the way meat is meant to be cooked. Yes, I think they should recommend the way to prepare it that they think will bring out the best in the meat – but there are some people who just don’t like meat if it’s bloody at all.  If someone likes their meat well done, even if its the most delicate cut of the beast – it shouldn’t really be up for debate. So, while I personally understand, and like my meat to be on the rarer side – it’s not to everyone’s taste – and that’s OK!

Now, enough of my proselytising, and onto a sweeter note….

Lemon Pannacotta, Peach Jelly, Strawberry and Boysenberry Sorbet

This is absolutely one thing that I love and remember most about the Graham – their desserts are works of art, and truly sublime!  This pannacotta was no disappointment.  As you know, I’m not a fan of things that wobble – but a good pannacotta just melts in the mouth and doesn’t push back at all.  Even the peach jelly was more like a jam – so that passed the test.  The sorbet was amazing, and just burst with flavour in the mouth – although at times, that berry explosion may have overwhelmed the delicateness of the lemon pannacotta. The whole composition was scattered with pieces of meringue and just looked and tasted beautiful.

Overall, our dining experience at the Graham was really fabulous – with only a slight drawback in the scotch fillet. It is still a wonderful place to eat – and the food for the most part is a notch above the average gastropub, especially those desserts – the pastry chef should be proud. The other dish I’ve tried there which is truly amazing is the red curry of roasted duck – it’s so good, I think it’s agreed that it will never come off the menu.

If you haven’t tried the Graham before, be assured that it is a lovely, classy gastropub – great for a group celebration through to an intimate dinner for two.  No wonder iMac loves it!

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