View The McConnell trail in a larger map It’s no secret I hate progressive dinners. Although all to often post dinner I find myself and a few pals progressive drinking. But my regular trips from Collingwood to St Kilda and back has taken me on the newly trodden McConnell trail, taking on the new eateries from brother Andrew, Matt and cousin Jason. It makes me wonder if there are possible anymore culinary wunderkinds to come out of this family’s kitchens? You can travel this trail in either direction. Devoties from the north of the Yarra start at Andrew’s Golden fields on Fitzroy Street St Kilda. But equally you could start at his latest Fitzroy outpost The Builders Arms on Gertrude Street and work your way back towards the beach. Matt McConnell reckons the best place to start is St Kilda “because you wouldn’t want to finish up there”. It’s all depends on which side of the north south divide you stand upon. You could travel the trail in one night and stumble home or take your time over days or weeks. All I can recommend, unless you are drinking mineral water, is to take the tram and leave the car keys or the bicycle at home. Builders Arms Hotel 211 Gertrude Street Fitzroy +61 3 9419 0818 Once a grungy pub with a dark garden dominated by a huge tree the Builders Arms Hotel been given the stark white treatment from the front bar through to the stylish white and just opened dining room, Moon Under Water. Personally, I like the revamped garden best with a huge BBQ spit roasting chickens and quail. The large central tree and the roof have gone, but the remaining stumps from the trusses and the pruned bougainvillier gave us a hacianda type vibe as we sipped our $5.50 pots of beer and $16 pinot gris and I tweeted the $6 Rusty Wire oyster. A week later I returned to half a dozen oysters, including Rusty Wires now at $5 each, and some others costing $4 each. A plate of bread later and a half glass each of “entry level chablis” while we waited for the star of the night’s drinking to chill and arrive, we were onto our starters. The smoked swordfish, capers, dill and apple is great value at $14 and a welcome change to the many cliched variations of kingfish ceviche that are… Read more »
I had to think long and hard about attending this dinner. But the fooderati came and ate. $275 for a Thai meal. That’s 13 courses cooked by David Thompson and pretty much unlimited booze. I’ve never spent so much on what is a function meal but I’m glad I did sitting on the corner of the bar seeing David sweating over the woks and pestle and mortar rejecting dishes that weren’t good enough. Usually when you stuff 150 or so people in to a restaurant for a guest chef experience it isn’t quite up to what you’d expect. Here it was totally amazing with, for my western palate, a perfect balance of flavours (although some people were blown away by the chilli). I made me think of critic Stephen Downes review years ago where he gave David Thompson 20/20 for the perfect meal. It was one of the best meals I’ve eaten for years and I seem to have lost my critical facility. Sadly it will be a long time until David will be back in Melbourne. But you can always try Nahm in Bangkok.