OK. I’ll be frank, I cannot (as much as I like to) find anything to bag Papa Goose in any way. Quite simply, it was just bloody great food; quality ingredients that are kept simple.
The website says “we use cooking techniques that allow the true flavours of that produce to remain the central focus of each dish” and I couldn’t agree with them more. I’m not going to find my dish of the year here, but I am already thinking about going back because I trust this place will again deliver a repeat outcome of me rolling out full and, umm… merry.
Our brief was to have a long, lazy afternoon consisting of good food, good wine and good company. We were not due to be anywhere later in the day, so there was no need to rush, nor did we want to be rushed. And we weren’t; that’s a big tick in my book. As for the service, I am going to borrow the words of another reviewer (thanks Glyn) who wrote: “Friendly and unfussy service from staff who know what they’re talking about, helping create an unpretentious atmosphere where the focus is on good food & wine”. I cannot sum it up any better than that. This is Papa Goose in a nutshell!
For starters, the oysters (on the day, Coffin Bay) were shucked to order and served natural… Four bucks a pop. Pure and simple. The char grilled baby squid with cauliflower, chickpea, lemon, yoghurt cheese and hazelnuts was fresh, vibrant and bursting with flavour. My choice of confit Huon ocean trout with king prawn, pea, tomato, dill was perfectly seasoned. Like the oysters, another great example of letting the produce speak for themselves.
A very good quality, fresh sourdough, was served in generously thick slices with with a wonderfully peppery olive oil.
Unfortunately (for us), no one at our table pushed the boundaries and went beyond steak for all our main course choices, so I can’t really report on any of the other dishes on offer. Hey, it was cold, wet and miserable outside and I believe we were all of the same mindset that a cure to the ominous weather was a big hunk of char grilled meat teamed with lashings of shiraz. Three of our table of went for the O’Connor pasture fed scotch fillet (300g, $44), served with a zesty watercress, red onion, parsley and tomato salad and a choice of either peppercorn, red wine or bordelaise sauce. It was bordelaise all the way for my fellow diners.
Me and another diner went for the grilled eye fillet ($44), served with caramelised shallots, spinach puree and ‘a’ sauce (I’m embarrassed to declare I cannot remember what it was, although it was delicious), only to be told that eye fillet was not available. However the chef could offer us a wagyu fillet (7 marble score) as an alternative, served with the same accompaniments for $55. I don’t know if our wonderful waiter could detect “suckers with a corporate account” that easily, or it was genuine. I didn’t care. You could have punched out all of my teeth and I still would have been able to enjoy this meltingly tender piece of meat, served exactly to order (rare). The icing on the cake was the offer of freshly grated horseradish. If you’ve only had the stuff in the jar before, I urge you to hunt some down at a decent greengrocer and try the difference. You won’t regret it and it makes me wonder why it’s not offered as a condiment in its raw state in many other places in Melbourne.
Sides dishes are definitely required and as a rule of thumb, one side was good for two-and-a-half people, so we ordered two servings each of the King Island sour cream mash potato ($7), cauliflower cheese ($8) and a salad of baby gem, iceberg, grapes and more of that wonderful grated horseradish ($7). The mash was the missing piece to our cure of battling though the miserable weather with meat and wine. The other side dishes largely hit the mark.
Chicks dig dessert. Chicks dig chocolate. Papa Goose knows this and has created what can be best described as the ‘leg opener’ of all desserts. Now you may think that this in poor taste, but I had to sit through watching two middle-aged women more or less recreate their own version of Meg Ryan’s scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’, whilst they devoured PG’s Eskimo’s pie, ‘hot chocolate’ ($17). It was sickening to watch. I was furious I didn’t order one for myself; vanilla ice cream with a hazelnut praline layer in between, sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits and topped with a crisp caramel tuille and for a bit of theatrics, a stream of hot chocolate sauce is drizzled at the table… Barry White, anyone?
The rest of us went of a less sexual option and shared a selection of cheeses ($22); a washed rind with fig relish, cheddar with pear & ginger chutney and a good old Irish Cashel Blue with leatherwood honey. Some house made flatbread accompanied the cheeses, as did some of those cardboardy shop-bought wafer crackers. Perhaps that’s what I’ll pick on. Maybe they were running low on house made flat bread.
To drink, Peroni is the only beer that features on tap, which was more than fine by me. A small selection of Australian and imported bottled beers and a couple of ciders are also available. As for wine, we stuck with the 2006 Westlake ‘Albert’s Block’ Shiraz from the Barossa ($65), which was around mid-price on an extensive wine list, although there are many reds and whites under the $50 mark. With desserts and cheese, I convinced the “I hate fortified wine” people on the table to trust me and we all happily polished off a 2004 Tscharke Lumberjack Touriga Nacional ($54). Converted.
So, back to our brief. Did we achieve a long, lazy afternoon consisting of good food, good wine and good company? Yes on all fronts. Go there… Now!
91-93 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9663 2800
Good For: Long, boozy lunches by day, romantic setting by night, great facilities upstairs for post-work drinks and nibbles
Not Good For: Anorgasmia due to desserts