18 Ways You Can Eat Dinner at Cecil Street, South Melbourne Market
Despite having moved from South Melbourne to Spotswood (westside!), South Melbourne Market remains to be my weekly stomping ground for their $1 oyster shots, dirt cheap cheese varieties, fresh Turkish bread, tennis ball sized dim sim’s and of course, pet supplies.
One thing I haven’t done though is have dinner at any of the restaurants. I mean, I’d usually grab a quick paella at Simply Spanish or a gozleme at Koy but not an actual proper sit down dinner because honestly, I never knew they were even open after market hours. Well, that was all about about to change, here comes the lowdown. I counted 18 food items not including drinks that I ate in one night thus leading to the title of this post.
My biggest problem is menu procrastination. I’m not as bad as some of my friends but when it comes to a new place, I can end up doing an analysis on the menu with my mind doing the wanders visually assuming everything. So, when I was invited to a progressive dinner at the five restaurants along Cecil Street being Linx BBQ and Yum Cha, Simply Spanish, Koy, Italian Brasserie and Claypots Evening Star – I didn’t need my medication. Joining me in action was fellow #teambling member, Penny and along the food trail, we caught up with the lovely Pat.
Fresh gozleme at Koy
The strip of eateries along the precinct are marketed as having a hawkers style/street food atmosphere and that night, it certainly felt that way as the vast number of patrons wondered up and down the deliciously smokey strip sampling fresh chorizo, roast duck, paella and juicy prawns. There were also plenty of outdoor heaters, so once you’re in the main area with all the live music, it’s actually quite cosy indeed.
Speaking of music, I think that the live acts made a real difference by cranking up the vibe by singing tunes relative to the origins of each restaurant, reminding me of the QueenVictoria Night Market. I can imagine this place really kicking it off during the summer months as there is also have a rooftop cinema nestled on car park area.
These guys rocked!
Here comes the food
We all met at the LG Kitchen to sample Linx BBQ and Yum Cha from Peking Duck (which is marinated overnight) and pork buns to other steamed yum cha varieties. I arrived abit late, so I didn’t get to try everything.
Next pit stop was Simply Spanish. I’d already smelt the whiffs of seafood in the paella coating the air before we even got close enough to see it. There were some tasty offerings such as the deep fried and incredibly well seasoned prawns- don’t you love it when you can just eat the whole thing tail and all. I love my fried baits and hold a no wastage policy when it comes to deep fried seafood.
Gimme Gimme..gimme gimme..MORE!
Now what’s a Spanish restaurant without their house chorizo? I loved this probably due to the fat content resulting in an uber juicy delight to eat plus it wasn’t overly spicy making this extremely moreish. Below is a preview of what was to come.
I’m a abit of a fan of the Paella at Simply Spanish. I’m found eating here most weeks, with a ground full of shopping bags and Cookie the beagle on my side watching me as I devour a plate of this well seasoned paella- think generously sized seafood like the mussels minus the chewiness, perfectly cooked rice that isn’t shoveled around too much, fresh peas and a hearty base. The seafood comes direct from South Melbourne Seafood who specialise in sustainable fisheries, a trend now feeding into the community with higher end restaurants like The Atlantic now following suit.
The majority of the evening was actually spent at the adorable Koy- a Turkish mezze bar with a street-made gozleme stall to boot. The buttery glazed Gozleme was named after the word ‘goz’ which means eye in Turkish because as you cook it, tiny brown spots start to appear that resemble a multitude of eyes.
It was definitely buzzing inside with some terrific entertainment like traditional dances and some of our favourite edible highlights beaming out of the kitchen so we stayed put.
Koy, run by Alan Aksoyoglu and Robert Ricks, actually means ‘village’ in Turkish.
Sitting right near the kitchen was a smart move as we anticipated every Turkish delight that was plated up, eagerly watching like a pack of hungry wolves. The bread, even on its own was beautifully dense but surprisingly light and teamed up with the various dips just blew us away with their intense combination of flavours. Our taste buds felt like they were smacked around by Manny Pacquiao! Plus knowing that it was all made in-house made it even better homeboy!
I can attest to the fact that Koy’s gozleme alone is worth the trip down to the markets. Go for either the mince or the spinach and cheese.
The Suçuk (grilled meatballs) went quick and with that amount of juiciness and flavour, it was expected.
Food just kept rolling out!
Inside Koy, there are plenty of communal tables perfect for large groups and a bar taking up residence in the center of the room stocked up with an abundance of wines and some imported beers. TIP: grab the corner table next to the kitchen to build up your appetite!
Moving right along, we ended up in Italy, stuffing our faces at Italian Brasserie with the charasmatic and chirpy Chef Oliver Buenaventura heading up the kitchen. With a focus on family style Italian food with a homestyle flair – which was evident in the red and white checkered decor- we were served with some entree items and dessert. The food took a while to come out so we didn’t end up trying much of the menu. First up was the chilli mussels that wasn’t fiery at all but tasty nonetheless.
The bruschetta was fared much better dotted with some ripined tomatoes. On the sweeter side of things, we finished off with tiramasu.
Last but not least we found ourselves at a swanky bar and restaurant Claypots Evening Star, owned by Renan Goksin who also runs the iconic Claypots in St Kilda. The main difference between the two is that Claypots Evening Star ooffers more of a casual dining experience where you get to pick out your seafood items from the bar, the food is then cooked teppanyaki-style rather than baked and there is an eat whilst you stand atmosphere. There are a few stools inside and out, communal tables and the main bar to eat off. I thought the comcept was great. There are of of course the usual quirks that reflect Goskin’s eccentric personality like a furry white cat doll that looked to be the lucky charm, several stools covered in barramundi skins and street signs that pay homage to the St Kilda outlet.
The place wasn’t fully ready that night so no food was on offer (*sad face*) but Renan showed us around the kitchen with all the burners turned on for full viewing (plus heating that cold night!) and gave us an insight into what exciting things he has planned. I can’t wait to try the Crab with tamarind. Live music was another highlight here with a trio belting out some upbeat tunes. I can see myself here with a beer in one hand and a crayfish on the other. Of course, all the produce is sourced directly from the market. How handy!
I’ve never experienced a progressive dinner before so I was thoroughly impressed by the variety and indeed, the quality of morsels on offer. If marketed right, Cecil Street can become the next mecca for street style food in Melbourne. I have high hopes for the precinct being so close to the CBD and despite now living in the west, I will surely come back for Claypots Evening Star. In fact, a few of us bloggers are organising a get together soon to get our hands on some seafood! YUUUUURM!
Myself, Renan Goksin and Penny…a little tipsy by the end of the night.
South Melbourne Market
Address: Cecil Street Street, South Melbourne 3205
When: Open for lunch Wednesday – Sunday and dinner Wednesday to Saturday
Melway: Map 1C Ref E11
Food Rehab attended courtesy of South Melbourne Market and Little Big Marketing.
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