142 Greville Street
Prahran VIC 3181
+61 3 9521 3155
As the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival drew to a halt yesterday, so did my brain which had been switched onto glutinous party mode for the last few months of (a pitiful summer). But as winter and uni assignments draw nearer, so does the quest for the perfect set of abs and thighs and so off with the pints of beer and packets of fish and chips, and in with the occasional glass of red wine, hearty soups and lots and lots of organic vegies.* But not before indulging in one last hurrah, another express lunch as part of the MFWF. Keeping with our promise to stick to restaurants that were not located in the CBD, Shirley and I decided to go to FOG, a restaurant that marries mod-Oz cuisine with South-West American, Asian and Spanish flavours. Big Love style, yeah! I chose this joint because 1) it was a restaurant that I had been wanting to try for ages and 2) I had also wanted to make a Radiohead reference on this blog and now I have. Wooo!
Sitting amongst the trendy boutiques, cafes and record stores of Greville Street, FOG has been home to many brunchers for the last five or so years. Its central location makes it the perfect spot to grab a plate of eggs and a coffee with the ladies after a crazy night at Revolver Upstairs, or a glass of beer (or three) after a crazy night at Revolver Upstairs.
It was also the perfect spot for a $35 two-course express lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Shirley and I did not actually go to Revolver Upstairs the night before but given how groggy I felt that morning and given my disheveled attire, I may as well have been. Not to worry, for the lovely staff at FOG do not discriminate those who are uncool as us (well, more me than Shirley). The lovely waitress gave us the option of sitting out in the courtyard or instead. While the courtyard would have been a fantastic spot to take photos, fears of our skins turning leathery brown meant that an inside table was chosen even if it meant crappy photos.
Included in the express lunch was a glass of wine. While Shirley swapped hers for a glass of freshly-juiced OJ, I chose a glass of Dominique Portet Sauvignon Blanc 2009. It was spicier and creamier than a lot of Sauv Blancs I’ve had of late but then again, if you’re getting a Sauv Blanc from the Yarra Valley, the chances of you getting a piss-weak drop that could pass off as cat urine (c.f. most varities of Sauv Blanc from a certain country) is very slim.
Freshly baked bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Good enough for me but Shirley did not believe, for one minute, that it was a viable substitute for butter so she asked if we could have some butter as well. And we were graced by a small saucer with a motherload of butter in it… (photo not taken).
Shirley’s entree: Spicy fried calamari chile da arbol hot sauce, fire roasted peppers, chorizo and garlic aioli. Chefs Jeremy and Christopher Sutphin’s Albuquerque upbringings were showcased in a dish that was as saucy and fiery as Bionic Christina Aguillera (minus the try-hardiness). The sauce was hot enough to give many a Sichuan restaurant a run for their money, yet not hot enough to take attention away from the tender calamari pieces which were gently battered and fried. A creamy garlic aioli was there to cool the burning embers that remained on your tongue once the last bit of sausage disappeared from the plate.
My entree: Thai-style seared rare beef salad with green papaya, lime, Thai basil, capsicum and crispy shallots. Deviating from America and into Asian territory, this dish was an exquisite study of flavours and colours. The silky soft ribbons of beef were dressed in a tangy lime dressing that was so sublime that it made me feel like summer was never going to end (not that it really began for us Melburnians anyway…). Sliced red capsicums provided some crunch and vitamins while Mr green papaya was virtually non-existent.
Shirley’s main: grilled Angus rump (250g), pomme frites, rocket and demi glace. By this stage, Shirley of the iron stomach was surprisingly full. She only got to eat her
chips pomme frites – which were beautifully soft potatoes concealed as crunchy batons – and a bit of her steak which she declared as ‘just okay.’ Same thing went for her rocket salad. While I didn’t get to taste any of the steak, it did look boring (but then again, what steak looks OMGFRIGGIN’AMAZING?!). Clearly this was a dish that failed to make it past customs on the way to Asia via America.
My main: chicken quesadillas served with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo (salsa). I’ve never really had good Tex-Mex before which, of course, begs the question: What IS good Tex-Mex? These quesadillas, that’s what! I received four generous pieces of soft tortilla that enveloped cheese and bits of chicken breast amongst other things. Oh, and three fresh dips (listed above) that made all the difference.
Okay, so it looked dry (and it was) but you know what, it didn’t matter. It tasted FANTASTIC. It wasn’t sauce nor salt-heavy like the ones that Taco Bill et al dish out to me, and you could actually taste the individual flavours of the peppers, onions and chillies that went in the filling as opposed to just ‘hot.’ The quesadillas were tasty, yet looked like they would be not at all hard to make – why must you get it WRONG, Taco Bill?
We didn’t bother with dessert but stayed for tea and coffee. Shirley had a pot of green tea (nothing special) while I had a latte which wasn’t the best I’ve had (slightly watery, a weak flavour) but whatever, it was included in the express lunch so no complaints from me.
Even though I no speak Americano, I still enjoyed my time at FOG and could definitely see myself coming back for lunch or dinner, regardless of whether I’ve had a big night.
*Okay, I lie. I’m still going to be eating all sorts of fatty, buttery and not-good-for-you-y goodness – after all, this IS a food blog… but I am keeping my promise of eating more healthily this winter. I swear.