Posts Categorized: Smith St

The essence of Saint Crispin on Smith St

Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks

A fish dish was the essence of a rockpool. The pullet egg with truffles and mushrooms like a forest floor. It was the evening before opening at Saint Crispin. And the restaurant was already hitting its stride. Chefs Scott Pickett of The Estelle and Joe Grbac, formerly of The Press Club, were working with the kind of seasoned intensity you only find in the world’s best kitchens. Rewind 5 years. Smith Street was all but a culinary wasteland being colonised by The Panama Dining Room and Cavellero, both fresh and casual takes on drink and food. They were the precursors to Gorski & Jones, Hell of the North, Huxtable, Easy Tiger and the soon to come Lee Ho Fook. Back in 2008 Scott Pickett , fresh from The Square in London, was at The Point in Albert Park before leaving to open The Estelle in High St Northcote. What was Albert Park’s loss was a huge gain for Northcote. It’s with no joy I’ve followed the slide of the two businesses that broke ground in Smith St. The once shoulder-to-shoulder packed Panama has had its wings clipped by liquor licensing reducing its hours and patron numbers. Cavellero, despite a reasonably priced list of decent booze, slipped in the face of new competition, a food offering that required work and service that mostly was hipster. What St Crispin offers is a similar idea to The Estelle, high end food that isn’t easily defined by continent or style in a casual and reasonably priced space where two courses cost $50 and three $60 – for now at least. So back to the food, a pared back menu of 4 of each course and 3 sides. Pullet egg, mushrooms, parmesan, goats curd and black rice shaved with truffle was what evoked earthiness and forest floor (with $25 worth of truffle). King salmon, shaved calamari, oysters, squid ink and saffron was the essence of rockpool. Our mains were Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks; and Veal cheek, hand rolled macaroni, miso eggplant and almonds. Desserts: Chocolate, earl grey, milk and ginger; and, poached rhubarb, burnt custard and blood orange. The old Cavellero kitchen has been upgraded. The booths have been replaced by simple yet stylish banquets as remarkable comparison to the similar Gorski & Jones space next door but one. Like with The Estelle in Northcote, Saint Crispin is a huige… Read more »

The Huxtabogan: the end to Smith St cool?

There’s a new burger in town and it’s a contender to take Melbourne’s best burger crown from Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill. It’s from a joint called Huxtaburger, the choice of hangout for a new breed on Smith St, the Huxtabogan, and costs $10 to Perry’s $23. There’s a lot that’s good about the burger, each one named after a character in the The Cosby Show. My favourite is “The Bill” which at $10 is a patty of grass-fed Moondara wagyu with egg, pineapple and beetroot in a Breadtop bun, which if anything is its failing because each time I’ve eaten one the bottom is sodden and falling apart. But at $10, the burger punches with flavour and in my book is a match for the infamous Andrew’s burger in Albert Park. Match with crinkle cut chips and an ironically bad beer such as Fosters, bought in as a joke but sold out in the first week to the amazement of the owners, and you have a winner. Now those of you who follow me on Twitter will say I’m getting even creating the Huxtabogan character when, with their bar next door to the burger joint opening, I could have simple have referred to Huxta[insert name here]. The back story is that I live next door to Huxtaburger and 8.30am one Sunday morning I took their drilling and hammering into my wall and raised it an axe, which I ground away on Twitter. You see in the rush to open Huxtaburger before Christmas their builder, rather than take on extra staff, decided to build out of the legal building hours annoying all the residents in my flats. It would have ended there is Huxtable’s chef Daniel Wilson had told the builder to stop working out of hours. What I found out two nights later was that he had instructed the builder to keep on working out of hours. That led to me confronting the owners at Huxtable mid-service one Tuesday night. They wanted to talk about it. But there is nothing to negotiate when the law is being broken is there? My axe grinding aside, the burgers are among the best in Melbourne. But with $10 (and less) burgers comes a different crowd. They crowd the pavement and make it difficult to pass by and more often than stand in my doorway blocking the entrance, and thus the Huxtabogan was… Read more »