11 Jan Roxborough, St Kilda
Acland Street has received a new Mediterranean eatery, courtesy of owners Paul Jewson and Marco Pugnaloni. They’re the duo responsible for St Kilda favourite Fitzrovia, just further north of here. The menu at Roxborough has been dreamt up by Head Chef Christian Byrne, and it caters for both ‘by-the-course’, and share style dining.
The interior design and furnishings of Roxborough are clean and bright, purposely chosen to stay in line with the 1930s building that houses it. Counter seats and high tables are set closer to the bar, and more traditional seating makes up the rest of the space. It feels light and airy inside; the sort of place you’d pop into for a casual, relaxed meal.
Our tasting of the dinner menu begins with Bruny Island oysters, dressed simply with a zingy and refreshing green apple granita (which had sadly melted by the time the photo was taken). Some may be pleased to hear that Fitzrovia’s polenta chips made the move to Roxborough. The famous chips are garnished with truffled parsley and parmesan. Each crispy bite is deliciously cheesy, peppery and salty. Consuming these was no chore at all.
A terrine of both rabbit and chicken is teamed up with slivers of pickled plums and thinly sliced sourdough crisps. It’s full of pistachios too, and is quite herbal in taste. The flavours of the leaner proteins, which are quite light on salt, are jazzed up by the tanginess of the plums.
The Heirloom Zucchinis are a crowd favourite that pleased both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The vegetable had been pickled, shaved into ribbons and grilled, then tossed with grilled squash, pea salsa, mint, pistachio and ricotta salata. Given that the menu is seasonal, the dish has seen a recent change from fava beans to peas. Not that I mind. Together with the mint, the peas lend the dish an extra bit of freshness that I enjoy. It’s nicely seasoned too, with the ricotta salata adding a touch of saltiness. The ingredients are all prepped fresh to order, and it’s something you can really taste; definitely an effort that is well rewarded.
A taste of both land and sea is had in the Pippies and Clams with Smoked Pork Hock. The pork has a subtle smoked flavour, and it’s not so salty that it overwhelms the seafood. Just as well, because the clams and pippies are nice and plump. There’s plenty of liquid to soak up with the toasted bread too.
Roxborough’s version of Vitello Tonnato involves veal fillet poached in milk for four hours using a sous vide technique. It’s resulted in meat with quite a firm and dense, but smooth texture. It comes with a tuna ‘tartare’ and rye pangritata crumb. Dobs of horseradish mayo give some interest to the very subtle flavours of the dish.
The table is then graced by portions of La Porchetta. Crispy-skinned, rolled pork belly is perched on top of braised chicory and a slurry of black lentils. Salsa verde adds a splash of colour, and pizzazz on the tongue. Unfortunately the pork is a bit inconsistent today. One piece is dry, another is succulent. What both have in common, however, is glorious, puffy crackling that is not left to waste, even though we are nearly full to the point of bursting.
The highlight for me is the Potato Gnocchi with zucchini, asparagus, peas, stinging nettle pesto, pine nuts and goats curd. Potatoes are sourced from Dobson’s Potatoes in Acheron, Victoria, before being transformed into gnocchi in-house. The goats curd is not sharp or gamey, and its smoother flavour complements the other ingredients well. The stinging nettle, which has been cooked so that it no longer stings, is soft, and provides a lovely contrast to the crispy pan-fried gnocchi and the crunch of pine nuts, peas and asparagus.
Our night ends with the Yoghurt Panna Cotta. It’s not been placed in a mould, but rather comes set in the dish itself. The wider surface area of the creamy dessert acts as a canvas for the pieces of honeycomb, segments of roasted yellow peach, and torn candied rosemary. The panna cotta is thick, firm, and smooth, and its tanginess is brightened up by strand-like lemon zest.
Roxborough made such an impression that I’m still dreaming of those polenta chips and the gnocchi. Brunch and lunch have started recently, making Roxborough a stand out, all-day dining destination that should be warmly welcomed on Acland Street.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Roxborough as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and are based on my experience at the time
88 Acland St
St Kilda, VIC, 3182
(03) 9537 3819