Melbourne Restaurant Reviews: The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

Aspro Ble

389 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 9602 4444

One of these days, I’m going to sail around the Greek Islands armed with a fistful of Australian dollars and lap in the sun, the sights and the food. But for now, I will have to settle with dining at Aspro Ble in the heart of Melbourne, the city with the largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece. Located in Lonsdale Street, but away from the Greek Precinct, Aspro Ble has been making more of a dent in Melbourne’s foodie circle than the Greece economy has in recent years. Its location on tacky Hardware Lane did initially prevent me from visiting but curiosity got the better of me.

Dave and I popped in for a post-work dinner last week after ditching last minute plans to have dumplings at Shanghai Street. Sucked in by Winston’s Instagram photos and vivid descriptions of slow-roasted lamb, I knew I had to visit. We didn’t have a booking but at 5:30pm, we had no problems in securing a table in the diminutive dining room.

wp1

Dave grabbed a bottle of Greek beer (it was either Alpha or Mythos, I really couldn’t remember) while I ordered a nice glass of Shiraz. For some reason, I was expecting a few Greek varieties to appear on the menu so I was surprised to see that all the wines were local. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.

We took quite some time in deciding what to order, partly because we just kept chit-chatting about stuff and partly because we didn’t quite know what to order despite being armed with recommendations from Winston. The waitress said that two little dishes and two larger ones would fill us up but we decided to be rebels by ordering two little dishes, one large one and a side salad. Ooh!

wp2

Aspro Ble uses Kefalograviera cheese for its saganaki fig and cherry conserve dish ($13). For Dave and I, this dish was dejavu for we enjoyed saganaki being served with figs at Hellenic Republic ages ago. We both thought that the cherries added a lovely dimension to the fig conserve, but we were disappointed to find that the cheese was not gooey – it stayed rock hard when we cut into it. No fun.

wp3

The calamari and prawn dumplings in a creamy caper and dill sauce ($16) don’t sound like a typical Greek tavern dish but I’d be happy to see these in more Greek restaurants if they tasted as good as these. The best way to describe them would be a soft filling of calamari and prawn encased in fried sheets made with what tasted and felt like wanton skins. I’d say they were more like raviolo rather than dumplings too (but then again, aren’t ravioli considered dumplings?). Anyway.

wp4

They were beautiful. Like a bronze Adonis walking on the beaches of Mykonos. The fillings were tasty enough but the sauce really made the dish sparkle. The dish was rich and tasty, with flecks of capers and chilli accentuating each morsel. And at $4 a piece, I reckon they were a bargain.

wp5

Although people say good things about the butterflied oregano, garlic and lemon chargrilled chicken, we decided that we couldn’t not order a lamb dish at a Greek restaurant. Thus, we had our eyes set on the slow-roasted lamb with a garlic yoghurt dressing ($24). Our lamb had been slow-roasted for five hours and as a result, the meat was beautifully tender and buttery. It was accompanied by a yoghurt dressing (which was pretty much a lighter form of tzatziki), a little jug of tarragon gravy which was flavoured with pan drippings and a small slice of lemon.

wp6

The lamb was beautiful and deceptively filling. If I was to be picky, I would have preferred a little bit more tarragon gravy but that was it. Unfortunately, we didn’t finish all of the lamb but it was only because we chit-chatted too much during the dinner and so the rest of the lamb ended up really cold and hard – our fault.

wp7

Dave doesn’t normally make friends with salad, but I convinced him to share a Greek village salad ($9) to balance everything out. It did its job.

We were pretty full after that and we were glad that we didn’t order two large dishes as per the waitress’ recommendation (see, they’re not always right!). Having said that, we weren’t going to leave without ordering dessert.

wp8

We shared a plate of loukomades (Greek donuts) with honey and walnuts ($12). They also came with lumps of double-strained Greek yoghurt and raspberry coulis, ingredients that weren’t mentioned on the menu. The donuts were crispy on the outside and soft, chewy and dense in the inside. We thought they were better than the ones that George’s Hellenic empire churn out, which I thought was the benchmark when it came to Greek donuts (not that I know a lot about Greek food in the first place!). And even though these donuts tipped us over the edge, we did not regret ordering them. They proved to be the perfect finish to what had been a great dinner.

The service was great the whole way through, even after it started to get packed at 7pm. And the damage was only miniscule, only $40 or so per head.

Aspro Ble on Urbanspoon

16 Comments on Aspro Ble

  1. Daisy@Nevertoosweet
    December 1, 2012 at 20:10 (2 years ago)

    YAY :) you blogged about Aspro Ble!!! WOO HOO :) I was there last night and REALLY enjoyed it!!! Such great dishes and and VALUE FOR MONEY hehe it was so cheap! We got heaps of dishes too and only spent $35 per head hehe ~ And I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I really really really LIKED the lamb :) and I don’t usually eat at all LOL so it was good :)

    The dumplings was also a favourite :) we’ll go again and we’ll have the chicken hehe it was good so I think you’ll like it ~

    I didn’t get any desserts this time :( FAIL lol will have to go back and try these donuts and the BAKLAVA! Great review as always dearie! xox

    Reply
  2. Choc Chip Uru
    December 1, 2012 at 20:37 (2 years ago)

    If you and Daisy recommend it then I MUST go :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Reply
  3. Martypantz
    December 1, 2012 at 20:39 (2 years ago)

    I will refuse to eat the calamari and prawn dumplings purely because you likened it to eating a pair of some bronzed Greek adonis’ balls.

    Reply
  4. theragingcook
    December 2, 2012 at 02:58 (2 years ago)

    mmmmmmm greek food… need something chargrilled te next time We visit them :D

    Reply
  5. Parsley Sage
    December 2, 2012 at 05:15 (2 years ago)

    Oh wow! I was all about those dumplings til I saw that lamb :) Holy deliciousness!

    Reply
  6. ChopinandMysaucepan
    December 2, 2012 at 06:59 (2 years ago)

    Dear Libishski,

    That bronze Adonis is certainly oozing with his seductiveness. I totally agree that I would have ordered the slow-cooked lamb too at a Greek restaurant, looks delicious.

    Reply
  7. hotlyspiced
    December 2, 2012 at 07:13 (2 years ago)

    I just love Greek food. What a great place to go and I think it seems very good value for money. All the food looks very appetising and inviting xx

    Reply
  8. Hannah
    December 2, 2012 at 09:54 (2 years ago)

    What on earth is the point of fried cheese if it isn’t gooey?! That is sadness right there.

    Reply
  9. Mr C @ The Food Diary
    December 2, 2012 at 13:20 (2 years ago)

    Haha would be awesome if the restaurant was named Sacre Ble! The calamari and prawn dumplings look deliciously creamy :)

    Reply
  10. yummychunklet
    December 2, 2012 at 14:21 (2 years ago)

    Everything looks beautiful and delicious.

    Reply
  11. kellysiew
    December 3, 2012 at 18:15 (2 years ago)

    Eyeing those dumplings (ravioli) and the lamb. Yum yum! Have heard good things about this place. Must make a point to visit next time!

    Reply
  12. msihua (@msihua)
    December 3, 2012 at 20:38 (2 years ago)

    I love love love saganaki! Mmm melty melty happiness!

    Reply
  13. Catherine
    December 3, 2012 at 22:07 (2 years ago)

    I’ve been meaning to come here for ages.. the food looks amazing!

    Reply
  14. Ming @ sweetandsourfork
    December 8, 2012 at 19:37 (2 years ago)

    I love aspro ble, though it’s a shame to see the prices going higher and higher thanks to its popularity – when I visited just over a year ago, the lamb was only $18! Glad to see it’s still as delicious as ever though

    Reply

Leave a reply