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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Duchess of Spotswood

Submitted by Adrian on March 16, 2012 – 10:23 am27 Comments

As the title of this post implies, Duchess of Spotswood have officially launched their dinner service with a killer menu to boot. I’ve been an avid diner in Melbourne’s west for over 15 years from Footscray to St Albans ever since I was in high school but despite having a diverse collection of notable eateries, I’ve been waiting for the day when a restaurant/cafe of this caliber would open for dinner within walking distance of my industrial domain in Spotswood. There are pretty much no restaurants open for dinner near my place!  So on opening night, we were there like white on rice.

I’ve lost count at the amount of times I’ve been back for brekkie since my first visit back in 2010 when they were in their first couple of months of trading labeling my newly found cafe as the area’s Concrete Rose. Coincidentally, we and a few other diners were joking around with the lovely Bobby Green (Co-owner) about perhaps putting up a chalkboard with a tally showing which local has dined at Duchess the most. It’s been hard to keep away this summer since the debut of their sun filled courtyard! You see, whilst the place attracts a hoard of customers who live on the other side of the Westgate Bridge, it still remains to be very much part of the local community and the great thing is, owners Andrew Gale and Bobby Green along with their dedicated team never takes that for granted – instilling that sense of community into their good old fashioned, genuine customer service, knowing many of their diners on a first name basis whilst thanking them for their support.

bonito fish

Having driven past the place numerous times on the way home from work, where Gale and his team are usually found conducting kitchen experiments after business hours, I can attest to the fact that the hard work they had put into developing their new menu has undoubtedly paid off. One just has to peek at the marvelous dishes featured in this post to see their efforts come to life. They have  clearly, bridged the gap between being a cafe and restaurant. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before on the blog, they were already serving up restaurant quality dishes from the beginning so it was only a matter time and some liquor licensing hurdles later that they would inevitably start dinner trading.

inside duchess of spotswood

dinner at duschess of spotswood

On offer was a three course set menu at $55 and boy, was it worth it.

Entree

Caution: Though tempting, do not fill up on the bread! Their house butter makes resistance even more futile…

sourdough at duchess of spotswoodbutter duchess of spotswood

Gimme gimme

True to Duchess form, the dinner menu, like their breakfasts, is consistently English at heart. From a smoked eel in a ham hock broth, slow cooked egg with streaky bacon and gentlemen’s relish to our first choice – Bonito which was presented immaculately amongst an array of pickled cardamom vegetable bling. The flesh, cooked perfectly – soft to medium without drying it out. The pickled veg also helped to offset the natural intensity of the fish. I know first hand what it tastes like eaten raw as Sashimi (cubed) during a holiday in Kyoto, Japan- let’;s just say it’s better when cooked. There is also a similar Filipino dish I grew up with where we would soak the Bonito in vinegar, garlic and serve with soy sauce and kumquat juice which is why I thought adding the pickled veg was a well executed touch.

bonito entree at duchess of spotswood

Next up, Roasted chestnuts with Jerusalem artichokes, goat curd and wild mushrooms. Everything about this dish (sourced locally) speaks volumes from but really what gave me Dr Dre Beats were the chestnuts. It brought an element of warmth to the dish and conjured feelings of comfort as I recalled those dreaded winter months stuffing my face silly with roasted chestnuts. Also mopping up the tangy goat curd with the juicy mushrooms and spreading the rest onto the fresh sourdough was just

second entree at duchess of spotswoodRoasted chestnuts with Jerusalem artichokes at duchess of spotswood

Main

Eating out out with a fellow carnivore has its pros and cons. Cons being that we both wanted the steak despite me insisting that we divide and conquer. Sigh…As predicted, we ended getting the Rump cap (200g) with hot pot potatoes and bone marrow. The potatoes are thinly sliced and cooked in veal stock along with the onion. The bone marrow encased then fried up making it an easy target for eating whole. It also made it easy to find. I mention this because there have been times when the bone marrow has gone MIA other establishments because it has either slid underneath the steak or whatever it is served with. No joke. The rump cap (known to be the best part of the rump) was cooked to our liking (medium rare) and was tender with a good amount of fat and judging from our clean plates looking as if Cookie the beagle was with us and licked it clean, it was a champion. Champion!

Rump cap at Duchess of Spotswood

bone marrow at duchess of spotswood

Peekaboo!

The liquids

ginger beer

Ginger beer with lime

Even the drinks were prepared with high level of attention to detail and care and doesn’t leave the counter until absolutely perfect.

duchess of spotswood wine

Don’t sweat the sweet stuff

Dessert was an easy choice for me. If there’s something along the lines of creme brulee, I’m there like white on rice. The Cambridge Burnt Pudding was revolutionary. I say this because there was a wee bit of a REMIX! Duchess decided to bring in some savoury to the table by blanching some bay leaves in hot water to remove the bitterness then adding a smidge of that into the brulee. Did it work? Was it just sensational? Well, my sexy readers, it was freakin sensational. For those who often say they don’t have room for dessert, make room for this one. Because of the essence of bay leaves (which was not at all overpowering), it was light on the tongue, not overly sweet or rich.

cambridge pudding at duchess of spotswood

Brioche Doughnut with fig jam and honeycomb. Gaaawd. How good was that fig jam all piping hot. I may have been losing the plot a little as I started to spread some of the jam onto the remaining bread then combing it my Cambridge pudding which went surprisingly well mind you. And in the spirit of the hilariously funny Miranda, it was SUCH FUN! I blame Sarah Cooks for my addiction to the show.

desserts at duchess of spotswood

Finally, I now have somewhere to go locally without having to worry about whether I’ll be fine to drive home as a result of too much wine. Yes…that is very important!

In addition to the killer food and its art-worthy presentation, it’s important to note that all this comes out of a kitchen that’s likely smaller than Imelda Marcos’ shoe closet. Considering it was opening night, overall, it all seemed to go quite seamlessly, faultless even. The front of house were terrific even taking the time to go through different flavour combinations and how certain dishes were prepared.

Duchess of Spotswood for dinner? Do it.

The 411

87 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood, 3015

Phone (03) 9391 6016

Web: http://www.duchessofspotswood.com.au Dinner service starts at 6pm

Update: I went back again and of course, the food was just as amazing. Check out the posts from my fellow dinners Msihua and Agnes

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Keep eating,

Adrian

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