Weeping isn’t something that comes naturally to me in public. Usually, I do it somewhere dark and private where I’m watching Love Actually, probably the bit with the Portuguese girl or the kids in the airport.
But on Saturday night tears rolled from my eyes eating the offal salad at The Middle Park Hotel (opposite tram stop 130 on Canterbury Rd). It could have something to do with my existential crisis or the over consumption of alcohol, although in fact I’d only had only a couple of Trummer Pils, a Lillet Blanc and a martini at Cutler & Co earlier – and a few wines.
But I attribute it to this dish cooked by the big man in the kitchen himself Paul Wilson on my second visit to the hotel (paid for by myself)
I’m always tempted by a prawn cocktail and was tempted by the posh one on the menu. But I asked chef for advice and he said go the salad.
Pink kidney’s, crumbed sweetbreads and a single piece of black pudding surround a salad topped with bacon (I think). The dish is cut with a decent amount of chilli and the remoulade is packed full of garlic.
It’s brilliant, old fashioned cooking with fat helping deliver the packed-in flavour using old fashioned techniques. It was rich enough for me to have to order Bircher Muesli for breakfast the next day, which to be quite frank I’m a bit embarrassed about (as well as being caught weeping during Love Actually).
Some five years back this was a showcase microbrewery for Fosters with the stainless steel devices being the centre piece of the hotel. That is now all gone and drinkers are left with an impressive 70 metre island bar in a room cleverly panelled in cheap cuts of wood.
The dining room is more refined than the bar with a central chandelier of stag horns.
And meat is the predominant theme with the trend leading item being an outrageous 1kg steak. It’s massive and designed for two. But at $68, I saw a table find it adequate for four, especially when you’ll be wanting to be ordering sides of bone marrow and thrice cooked chips, modelled loosely on the Heston Blumenthal technique from his show In Search of Perfection.
My first lunch here was a PR freebie. We ate scotch eggs, crisp fried pork cracking, pork ribs with cracking. Lamb. And Hallibut, brought over frozen from Europe and one of two fish concessions on the menu (and frankly at odds with the heritage local sourcing of most other products).
I stuffed down my heritage vegetables and multi-coloured heritage carrots to the point that I peed red later that night. I though that it may have been caused by the aforementioned existential crisis in which I may have picked up a minor venereal disease (perhaps a junior one that would respond to topical treatment I hoped). Luckily it was just the curse of beetroot.
Bread and butter pudding.
Soon it was time for bread and butter pudding, trifle (I ordered a whole one for myself) and a salted caramel dessert that was a bit off putting as it looked like chicken liver pate.
I should point out all this eating (and drinking) was carried out in controlled conditions and a medical team was on standby at all times..
We survived. And I may sneak back to finish myself off.