533 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North VIC
(03) 9481 1177
My weekends are always jammed packed with things that need to be done – running around doing errands, weekly shopping, housework or catching up with family and friends. My weekdays however, are very routine – go to work, come home, have a simple dinner and then chillax. Have I got it round the wrong way? Should I be chillaxing on the weekends instead?
This weekend in Melbourne is Labour Day long weekend and all I want to do is (try to) sleep in and do nothing, but instead I’ve got a list of activities planned. Not that I’m really complaining because most of them are fun activities, but I think it’s a note to self that I’ve got to plan a weekend where I have nothing planned!
Last week we went to our first Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) Restaurant Express lunch for the year, and this weekend, we went to our second. I’ve got two more MFWF Restaurant Express lunches booked so keep an eye out for those posts too. The MFWF Restaurant Express lunches are $35 for two courses, plus a glass of wine and tea and coffee at a selection of well known restaurants around Melbourne and country Victoria.
Matteo’s is another restaurant we have been meaning to go to for some time, but never got around to until now. Matteo’s is located on Brunswick Street, but on the north side of Alexandra Parade. It received two hats in the 2012 Age Good Food Guide and has been “hatted” since 1996. The website calls the food contemporary Australian, but there is definitely an Asian fusion element to some of their dishes.
Even though it was lunch time and there was light streaming through the large windows at the front of the restaurant, it still felt quite dark, due to the dark colours of the floor and walls. The restaurant exuded an old world charm with the elegant fit out.
The MFWF Restaurant Express menu at Matteo’s had a choice of 4 entrees, 4 mains and dessert of cheese. There were also 3 sides available for $7 each. You can add on an extra course for $15.
We started off with a glass of wine each, one red and one white.
Red wine, white wine
We decided to split the entrees and the mains 50/50 this time. Sometimes we do that when we both really like both dishes. Other times we will just try some of each other’s dish and swap back!
The first entrée we chose was the tartare of Hiramasa kingfish, Yellowfin tuna and Atlantic salmon. It came presented in three small rounds, with each fish coming with a different dressing. The fish was very fresh and I liked the three different flavours of the fish and the dressings.
Tartare of Hiramasa kingfish, Yellowfin tuna & Atlantic salmon
The second entrée was a deep fried and tempura battered baby squid filled with red rice and shrimp, topped with a crunchy heirloom carrot salad and accompanied with a sea urchin butter sauce and a pea puree. All the flavours worked well together and the baby squid was tender.
Deep fried baby squid filled with red rice & shrimp, heirloom carrot salad, sea urchin butter sauce
It was a difficult choice for the main because we were deciding between three equally yummy sounding dishes. In the end we decided to forgo the karaage Japanese lemon fried chicken and go for the slow braised lamb shoulder and the fish of the day.
The fish of the day was a trumpeter fish fillet, pan fried and served with a rice paper roll. The fish had quite a firm, flaky texture and the rice paper roll was an interesting accompaniment.
Today’s fish – trumpeter
The slow braised lamb shoulder had a delicious, sticky glaze and was very tender. It was sitting on top of crushed peas and was served together with a miso glazed eggplant with a spicy lamb mince topping and a small turnip fondant. The lamb mince was lacking in flavour but everything else on the plate made up for it.
Slow braised lamb shoulder, nasu dengaku miso glazed eggplant with spicy lamb mince, Tokyo turnip fondant, citrus pepper sauce
You could choose a dessert platter or cheese for the final course. We chose dessert to share, which was an extra $15 as we already had our two courses. There were three miniature desserts that arrived on a plate: a berry tartlet with white chocolate mousse, a warm dark chocolate fondant pudding and a pistachio nougat and candied fruit parfait. Surprisingly the parfait was the sweetest thing on the plate. The chocolate fondant was perfectly gooey in the centre, but a touch too bitter for my liking. I enjoyed the berry tartlet with the white chocolate mousse the most.
La Dolce Vita – Warm, dark chocolate fondant pudding; Berry tartlet with white chocolate mousse; Chilled pistachio nougat & candied fruit parfait
We finished off with a hot chocolate for me and a flat white for hubby.
Flat white in foreground, hot chocolate in background
Overall: The $35 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Restaurant Express lunch at Matteo’s was fantastic value, considering the mains at Matteo’s are normally in the $40 plus region. Yes, the serves are smaller, but I was very impressed at how interesting the dishes were and how many elements were on the plate for a 90 minute express lunch. There were no stand out dishes because everything was very good!
Over & Out, April xx