After you climb a flight of stairs once you find the entrance which is a virtually unmarked door next to the European, you will receive a friendly greeting and be quizzed as to whether you simply want a drink or a long and lavish indulgence. Being rather hungry, we opted for the latter and were shown to what could be arguably the best seat in the house in the corner near the window. From here you have glimpses outside but can also keep an eye on the comings and goings of the restaurant but also Siglo Bar which is located yet another flight of stairs up.
Commencing proceedings with a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvee ($25) we decided to start with Pâté de Foie Gras, pear chutney and toasted brioche ($26) because I always find it such a stand-out dish downstairs at the European. Joselito Jamon Iberico ($40) and Escargot ($12) along with a bottle of Domaine Leroy Maison Bourgogne Rouge 1999 ($105) was selected to match these appetisers. Domain Leroy is a wine producer in Burgundy with properties in several Grand cru vineyards of Cote d'Or and is known for biodynamic farming. Everything matched well and I could go on for hours about how much I enjoyed the pâté and the jamon iberico, as I always devour these staple items when I find them, but the stand-out for me were the snails. I was impressed that they were already de-shelled and when matched with the wine were simply amazing.
As they were offering an interpretation of tacos on their "finger food" menu, I had to give them a try. Chickpea battered soft shell crab tacos with smoked mango and pickled cucumber ($14.50) was a bold combination and the mango certainly highlighted the taste of the soft shell crab, which was also a generous portion. I liked how the soft shell tacos were served with a clip keeping the elements secure whilst they were delivered. The roasted pumpkin and padron pepper tacos with goats curd ($10) may be appreciated more by a vegetarian and after my recent trip to Trippy Taco, I really fundamentally believe that a taco should have some sort of meat in it to be considered a taco. This dish could have been served more as a "tostada" in salad form at least for me to get around the psychological roadblock I had with it.
More jamon iberico ($40) was ordered to compensate for the vegetable tacos along with son-in-law eggs, which are soft boiled and fried with Asian herbs and chilli caramel ($12) and a Reuben - a corned beef sandwich with sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and Russian dressing ($16.50) was matched with a bottle of 2004 La Rioja Alta Vina Arana ($105) which although the server was recommending against, I ordered anyway. I should have heeded his advice. Although I love Tempranillo, and this wine is an 80% Tempranillo blend, it didn't match the best with the Reuben and eggs and I should have instead ordered a pinot. I often just find myself falling into the Tempranillo trap because I enjoy it so much. It is never a value for money wine to purchase in Australia though which is sad.
After spending over three hours of eating and drinking at the Supper Club, I had the opportunity to chat with Simon, the very affable server and sommelier. He shared a great amount of knowledge and led me down the original path of choosing the Domaine Leroy which was amazing choice and matched perfectly for the first round of food that we devoured. Despite not following his advice and ordering the Tempranillo to follow up his choice, he remained cheerful, if not amused by us throughout the night providing excellent service and good insight into the menu and all things epicurean.
When it was still legal to smoke cigars in places like the Melbourne Supper Club many years ago, I recall having quite a few late nights relaxed on one of their many lounges puffing away and even enjoying birthday celebrations there one year. Although that bygone and cheery era has sadly passed us, the lounges remain and this place continues to trade and serve their full menu into the early hours of the morning. Just knowing that Escargot it available, I do forecast spending some early mornings here after making my rounds in the boozers in the area in the short term.
The Melbourne Supper Club
Link to review
Level 1/161 Spring St Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 6300
no web site
My Rating: 14.75/20
Value For Money: 3.75/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, 90% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like The Melbourne Supper Club.