Archive for October, 2009

The Gippsland Getaway

Posted in Food Reviews, Restaurants, Restaurants in Melbourne with tags , , , , on October 13, 2009 by thepseudoepicurean

The husband and I spent the weekend away up in the little town of Metung somewhere south-east of Gippsland. It was our little way of celebrating the 3-month mark of our marriage, though really, we would’ve come up with any other excuse just to slip out of town for a holiday.

We left the city on a Friday night, and after a hearty meal at the Skinny Dog Hotel, stopped over in Drouin for a night. Drouin is an extremely sleepy town approximately an hour and a half from Melbourne, but was nonetheless cosy and good enough to get us by the night before another long and arduous commute to our final destination.

Breakfast the next morning was an absolute disaster. Thinking that Warragul would be a great place to stop for breakfast, we had set our expectations extremely high only to be sorely disappointed with a big but mediocre breakfast. We ordered a big breakfast – bacon and poached eggs on toast, mushroom, spinach, grilled tomatoes and sausage – individually they were decent, but somehow the elements didn’t gel together quite well, and to top it off my chai latte was a failure too. The Jman and I concluded that the place simply lacked soul. Full but disappointed, we decided to soldier on to our lunch stop – Port Albert.

Port Albert was the complete opposite of Warragul. It’s a small sleepy boating town with nothing but a jetty, a restaurant called Wildfish and a fish-and-chips shop (also owned by the restaurant). The Jman found out during his research that they (i.e. Wildfish) had apparently won some pretty good awards for their fish-and-chips. And so it was a done deal. Walking into the restaurant, you wouldn’t think much of it. Sure it was modern and bright with its white walls and minimalistic décor, but it was also empty. The staff were professional but cold, lacking the friendly touch of a welcoming place.

We sat down, placed our orders – the Jman had the beer-battered local flathead fillets, while I ordered a local Gippsland grass-fed eye fillet. And then we waited…and waited…and waited. One would’ve thought that our meals would be out in a flash since we were the only customers there, but I suppose they’d have to wait for the oil to heat up since it didn’t seem like they had any visitors for the day thus far. When our food finally came, there’d been at least another 10 people who’d come into the restaurant now.

Anyhow, here’s the verdict: the fish and chips was truly THE BEST we’d ever tasted. Golden, crisp to the core, light and simply divine. It was like we’d died and gone to fish-and-chips heaven. There was none of that soggy, mushy “crust” business that most F&C shops dish up – this one was just incredible and unbelievably amazing. I’m really, really pleased to say that I’m pretty confident we’ve found the best fish & chips in Victoria, hands down. Every element of the dish was made to perfection – the fries remained golden and crisp throughout the meal, the salad was light and fresh, the only thing I didn’t try was the bearnaise sauce because I am not a fan of creamy sauces.

Beer-battered local flathead fillets

Beer-battered local flathead fillets

As for the steak – it tasted good. It was full-flavoured, robust and tasted like a pretty darn good piece of meat. It was however overcooked (it turned out more medium done than medium rare) and swimming in a pool of red wine jus which didn’t quite hit the spot for me. The mash was decent but not exciting, but if anything, the meat made up for everything else that the dish lacked.

Local Gippsland grass-fed eye fillet in red wine jus

Local Gippsland grass-fed eye fillet in red wine jus

I highly recommend a visit to Wildfish if you’re in the area, bearing in mind it isn’t exactly the closest to Melbourne, and is in fact a good 3 hour drive from the city. I can still remember how delightful it felt crunching my teeth through the crispy batter and into the silky flesh of the flathead. This would be one of my most memorable meals in a long time to come, though I suppose having very little expectations to start off with would’ve played a part in the overall experience of this restaurant.

Apart from the fact that the Gippsland region is a gorgeous place to begin with, the food is definitely another reason to return.

Next up…our meals in Metung where we visited the Metung Galley and Bancroft Bites.