I have to admit I had my reservations about dining at the Dutchess Restaurant: I’m not usually a fan of pimped up restaurants over pubs. But I am always open to being convinced wrong. And on this occasion, fortunately, I was.
The Manhattan-inspired venue couldn’t be more different than its lower neighbour -The Duke of Wellington, Melbourne’s oldest pub. Upon entering the Flinders Street lobby we were quickly ushered upstairs to the Dutchess via the lift. With a distinct New York vibe, the restaurant is stylish and sexy – full of plush wrap around leather booths and sleek dining tables illuminated by candle light. A DJ pumps music well into the evening, which gives the restaurant a semi clubby vibe. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, retreat to the terrace on a summer’s evening, and be swooned by jaw dropping views over the city.
Created by Melbourne chef Justine Wise (ex The Point and The Press Club), the Dutchess food menu has a great range of small and large plates based on bold international flavours and quality local produce. There’s a raw menu showcasing some of Australia’s best local produce including freshly shucked oysters, spicy beer tartare and ocean trout. Dry aged steaks are another highlight including the melt in your mouth style Chateaubriand, pasture fed Tasmanian Vintage, or the epic 1.1kg meaty slab of Tomahawk. If you’re feeling indecisive try their “shut up and eat” menu priced at $79 per person for four courses. The drinks list is equally impressive, with a carefully curated wine list and sumptuous cocktails.
Starting with a bowl of truffle infused popcorn to kickstart our palates, we progressed to a plate of natural oysters teamed with fermenented chilli and a refreshing lime granita, which cooled the back of the throat after the slight chilli kick.
Next a picture perfect plate of seared petuna ocean trout. The rosy pink flesh was only slightly seared to take advantage of its silky delicate texture. Pickled celery and heirloom carrots gave the dish a nice burst of fresh summery flavours, while the prawn crackers topped with salmon caviar gave it an interesting textural contrast.
On the smaller plates menu, a mac and cheese is given a contemporary makeover by the addition of generous chunks of King crab. Served in a copper pot, the dish has all the gooey, creamy and messy necessities of this classic dish; the golden layer on top maintains a devilishly good crispness and goldness, perfect for sinking into the gooey goodness within.
It would be a sin not to try the fried chicken bits at the Dutchess Restaurant. Beautifully golden morsels were cooked to perfection, smothered in a a slightly spicy cajun dipping sauce. Trust me they are worth getting your hands dirty for.
For something a little lighter, we tried the asparagus teamed with quail egg, candied walnuts and Hollandaise. Unfortunately I had to miss the walnuts due to a walnut allergy but it was delicious even without.
For mains, the flat iron pasture fed steak was paired with a selection of two sauces (bearnaise and pepper gravy), the thick slices revealing a succulent pink flesh within; while the baby snapper was served on a bed of mussels, clams and spring vegetables. A crystal clear bath of crustacean consomme was packed full of depth and flavour.
A 2/146 Flinders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T (03) 9810 0055
I was invited as a guest of the Dutchess. All of my views are honest and my own.