34 Franklin Street
P 9663 6855
Inspired by a recent article appearing in Weekend Agenda, coupled with the fact it is a mere 400 metres from our apartment, we decided to give Captain Melville a try on one sunny, balmy Spring evening. The Agenda piece reported that the “oldest public house” in Melbourne, formerly known as Miss Libertine has been revamped – and I can confirm that it’s a great improvement. Given it used to be a bit of a crusty, bohemian, and noisy hangout – there has been a major transformation, and the refurbishment has been done with class and finesse! I was very pleasantly impressed by the fit out – which is characterised by quirky signature touches, beautiful floral arrangements, gorgeous timber seating, and an airy atrium feel.
The menu has been put together by head chef Shayne McCallum – who has a great pedigree with stints at iconic restaurants such as Blakes, The Botanical, The Kingston Hotel and The Graham amongst others. He is on a personal mission to bring restaurant quality food to the pub scene and methinks he is well on his way….
The menu is pretty compelling. First of all there’s a range of single bites – which you can order in multiples or combinations. The selections are so funky and gorgeous, that it would be easy to just sit there and keep ordering. This is followed by a range of entrées to share – including salt and pepper squid, olives and charcuterie. However, there’s also a couple of more innovative dishes such as quinoa salad and a version of tuna tartare.
The mains are evocative of pub classics – but they’re tricked up significantly. For example, bangers and mash appear as Wurook Merino, black pepper and fennel sausages served with potato salad; while the chook for the chicken parmigiana hails from Bannockburn free range farms and is served with a homemade coleslaw and hand cut chips. And if that wasn’t enough – then there’s the grill section – with a stellar array of quality cuts all served with hand cut chips, salad and your choice of condiments.
Seared scallop, celeriac puree, jamon
We decided to start with a selection of the single dishes… the first being a beautifully seared, plump scallop served atop a creamy celeriac veloute and crowned with a tangle of salty, flavourful jamon. This was a stunning dish and it would be easy to just order ½ dozen of these and kick back. Delicious!
Crumbed zucchini flower, ricotta, peas, lemon, mint
Hooray!! It’s zucchini flower season again – and these beauties were crisp and crunchy, and filled with a delicate mixture of ricotta, peas, lemon and mint. It was sitting on a roasted capsicum puree which complemented the crunchy creaminess well (although I have to confess – this tasting was coming hot on the heels of Taste of Melbourne, and the Aylesbury zucchini flower with rooftop honey is still singing on my palate!!).
Mini bratwurst dog, sauerkraut, German mustard
There’s a little touch of dude food in the menu as well…. This was a delicious mini dog – beautifully juicy, served in a soft bun and topped with tomato sauce and mustard it had a great balance of flavours.
Western Plains pork belly, warm bun, baby cos, crackle
This dish. Must Never. Come off. The menu!!! Sorry… I think I’m talking with my mouth full! I predict that this pork belly bun will become something of a signature craze here at Captain Melville. It was, quite simply – insanely awesome!! Soft seeded bun, juicy and generous slices of pork belly, beautifully foiled by the crunchy goodness of baby cos which has been well seasoned with a delicate mayonnaise – all topped off by a crunchy piece of pork crackling. Just go now – and get yourself a pile of these. It almost renders the rest of the menu a moot point!! They’re that good!
250g Hopkins River grass fed eye fillet
For mains we both felt like a nice piece of steak and ordered the eye fillet. While we suspect that they might have mixed up our medium and medium rare order – there was not a lot to fault with this dish. The crust of the steak was particularly noteworthy. Well seasoned, the steak had been seared and chargrilled to perfection so that the crust acted as a flavourful barrier protecting the juicy and tender flesh beneath. Andrew’s steak was a very generous serve, probably the joys of being the end of the fillet. However, because of it’s size it wasn’t cooked all that consistently, and the centre was quite rare. It was at this point we were a little unsure if they may have inadvertently switched our steaks – but we happily swapped and finished what was left, replete and happy. It’s for this reason that Andrew, my barometer of all things steaky, couldn’t put the steak up there in his top 5 – but he did say they’re hovering just outside it. Given it’s early days… and in the interests of research – we will monitor the situation and report back!!
The steak comes with some hand cut chips which are fantastically crunchy, and a really lovely, fresh and simple salad. The condiments range from garlic butter, to madeira jus, as well as a range of mustards. However, I couldn’t go past my favourite – horseradish cream!! So good!!
On top of all this good food, they have a great range of wines available – including some good quality staples by the glass. Not to mention a number of hoppy options for our beer lovers. Service was great – with the staff clearly keen to make an impression and get the establishment off to a great re-start!
Personally, I am ecstatic that Captain Melville has opened up around the corner. While on the night we went – one week into opening – it was a bit quiet, I reckon it’s a winner. I see us becoming regulars – and even though I’m a little shy of generating too much positive publicity (just in case we can’t squeeze in the door for all the happy punters!!!) – I’m happy to share news about its amazing menu and service because it deserves to thrive!! Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.