2/157 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda VIC 3182
+61 3 9525 4488
One of my favourite things to do when writing a blog is coming up with a catchy title. Most of the time, I look to song lyrics, movies, TV shows and books for inspiration. Occasionally, I steal lines from friends and tweak them accordingly. The latter option is usually less funny, though, because of the inside joke element. Prior to the write-up of this post, Dave said to me, “I bet your title for your post on Golden Fields will have ‘Golden’ in it… like, ‘I’ve Got a Golden Ticket’ or something.” Well, he was half-right. I was going to use the word ‘golden’ because it was easier, but not the title he suggested. But because I’m difficult and because I occasionally like to piss Dave off (though I can bet my share portfolio that he’ll probably just read this and laugh), I ended up using the word ‘fields’ in my title instead.
Another favourite thing I like to do is take a rare day off work and find a restaurant or a café for a spot of solo dining. Back in the days, I used to feel like an utter loser when I requested a table for one but these days? Meh, who gives a damn?! On the day in question, I decided to visit Golden Fields in St Kilda, yet another Andrew McConnell restaurant. It seems like breakfast hot spot Cumulus Inc wasn’t enough and neither was grungy, brooding and fantastically sexy Cutler & Co so he HAD to open up another restaurant in St Kilda, this time drawing inspiration from various Asian cuisines hence the somewhat ‘fobby’ name. Golden Fields was a place that had been on my ‘To Dine’ list for a very long time. In fact, I was meant to go there for dinner with friends a few months ago but unfortunately, I ended up missing it. Apparently, Shane Warne and Liz Hurley happened to be dining there on said night too which, depending on how you look at it, may or may not have been a good thing for me. But anyway, I finally made it to Fitzroy Street one sunny Tuesday afternoon last month after I had completed all my errands. Better late than never, I reckon.
Prior to my visit, Dave had warned me that the place was difficult to find in broad daylight as the signage isn’t clear. ‘Pfft,’ I thought, dismissing him. ‘I’m awesomely good at directions and rarely do I ever get lost!’ I shouldn’t have spoken too soon though for it took me ages to find the restaurant. First, I relied on google to hit me up with the street address, and it told me to go to ‘157 Fitzroy Street.’ 157 Fitzroy Street was, in fact, the Medina Hotel and its street number was clearly marked on the building. I saw a row of restaurants right next to it, but none that distinctively said ‘Golden Fields.’ I walked around for a bit, and ended up in various locations included a carpark and Fitzrovia before ringing the restaurant up, asking for directions. It turns out that Golden Fields was, in fact, one of the restaurants next to Medina, but it didn’t have actual signage. Yes, the name of the restaurant was written on the glass door but it wasn’t very clear and it was also written in a small font. Them = helpful; me = idiot.
Thankfully, that was the only downer to what was one of the best lunches I’ve had in a VERY long time. It was such a lovely day so I decided to sit on my lonesome on one of the tables outside. The waitress explained that dishes were either small or large, but all were designed to share (ain’t they all these days?) but the kitchen was happy to do half-portion servings with the cold small dishes and the salads so I could sample a variety of different things. That sounded fantastic to me so I chose a handful of dishes that sounded pretty good. Moments later, the waitress returned with a complimentary bowl of soy roasted pumpkin seeds. They were sweet and salty at the same time, with a slightly sticky coating. Must. Source. Recipe.
My first dish was the kingfish, salmon roe, scud chilli, ginger, lime (normally $12, half portion $6). I thought the dish was very Nobu-esque in terms of flavour. I liked how each little piece of kingfish was packed with so much flavour from the dressing, yet the lime did not overpower the fish which is a mistake that a lot of restaurants make. The salty salmon roe cut through the acidity of the lime, while the scud chillies were hotter than I thought which made me think that the dish could have gone without them. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic dish.
I also liked the tuna, French breakfast radish, sea lettuce, avocado (normally $14, half portion $7). A more subdued dish than the first one, I loved the lovely meddling of textures between the super-fresh raw tuna and the creamy avocado puree blobs, with the slightly tangy apple matchsticks cutting through both elements. Beautiful.
I had been looking forward to this dish the most: The New England lobster roll ($15). A dish that’s been lauded by bloggers, food critics and philistines all over, I was expecting great things despite Dave telling me that he didn’t find it remarkable. I wish I could have agreed with everyone else who’s had this dish and received multiple foodgasms but sadly, I had to agree with Dave. The hot buttered bun containing a juicy piece of cold poached crayfish, sprigs of watercress and Kewpie mayo was much smaller than I thought – probably the size of a mini Breadtop roll. The bread, which was sweet all over and lightly toasted, tasted Breadtop-like too. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice roll and the flavours worked well together (you really can’t go wrong with Kewpie) but think about it: in order to get yourself full, you’d need about four of these which works out to be a $60 lunch. No thanks.
I thought the shredded chicken salad was better value for money (normally $15, half portion $8). Tender pieces of cold poached chicken sat on top of a plateau of house-made cold rice noodles with sesame paste and Sichuan chilli oil. At the waiter’s instruction, I mixed all the ingredients together until the chicken pieces and noodles were evenly covered. Each resulting mouthful was a lovely blend of nutty goodness accentuated by a kick of chilli, with shredded cucumbers and sprigs of coriander providing visual relief. It was delicious. I guess my only complaint would be that the ‘house-made cold rice noodles’ looked and tasted more like flavourless blocks of jelly, than actual noodles. I would have preferred flat strands of proper rice noodles, house-made or otherwise or even better, soba noodles for more cohesion.
I ordered this salad on the waitress’ recommendation. When she pointed the heirloom tomato salad to me (normally $12, half portion $6), I inwardly groaned and thought to myself, ‘Great, this doesn’t sound very exciting.’ Again, I spoke too soon for this salad was up there with the best I’ve had in Melbourne. It was ridiculously simple, really – chuck in some heirloom tomatoes, drizzle them with a tangy tamarind dressing and garnish with crispy shallots. It doesn’t sound very exciting but you know what, it tasted AMAZING. It goes to show that the simplest of dishes can dazzle tastebuds if you use the finest and freshest ingredients. And the tomatoes! Oh man, they were sweeter than a Picnic bar and much, much better for you, too.
I was satisfied after all those dishes but I still had a little bit of room for dessert. After ordering the peanut butter parfait ($10), I moved to a table by the shade as the afternoon sun was starting to make my pale Asian skin prickle. It was funny how I finished a relatively light lunch with a sugar-heavy dessert but hey, how can ANYONE resist peanut butter desserts?! ESPECIALLY ones that look as cute as this oh-so-Andrew-McConnell-y peanut butter parfait drizzled with salted caramel and soft chocolate. Sinfully delicious and only a fraction as rich as a crazy Hamptons housewife, it was a fabulous dessert.
I can certainly why Dave goes on about this place. Initially, I thought he was just a crazy kid harbouring a secret man-crush on Andrew McConnell but damn, Golden Fields exceeded my already high expectations. The service was fantastic, and the food even more so. Okay, maybe not in the case of the lobster rolls which I thought was overpriced for what they were but everything else, wow. I am DEFINITELY going back, perhaps to try some of their larger dishes with a couple of mates. And I’m going to convince them that yes, you can make sex buddies with a humble tomato salad.