Nautical at 3 Station Pier
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post
This is my second restaurant invite post. To be honest, I’m still figuring out this PR-company-slash-restaurant-invite thing. While part of me is childishly ‘thrilled’ about receiving invites, I’m starting to realise that sometimes writing up these posts may not be all that worth the free meal offered. I mean, blogging takes up a heckuva lot of my time, I spend at least 4-6 hours photo-editing and writing up a dinner post like this. So I think it’s only worth all the effort if I really wanted to to visit the place to begin with.
So why did I say ‘yes’ to Nautical? I think it was again how I was approached, and what was communicated to me by the person who contacted me. I was offered a three course meal for two with a bottle of wine, and they were happy to receive my published honest opinion no matter which direction it went. Also, Nautical is located within walkable distance from my home, right by the water. I thought it’d be good to explore more places near where I live
So here’s Port Melbourne, right at the end of the tram line, next to the ferry terminal that takes you to Tasmania. I think those beachfront apartments belong to Beacon Cove. 3 Station Pier is really close to where these apartments start happening. To me, I think this area has a bit of ugly and a bit of nice to it. The apartments are too new, unimaginative, devoid of character and its surroundings contrived. However, I love water, and I enjoy living close to water, that’s why I ultimately chose to live in Port Melbourne.
My partner in crime this time was Mr Frenchman. My thinking process involved figuring out who’d be able to drink a bottle of wine almost singlehandedly, since I’m such a lightweight. Fakegf’s idea of ‘sharing’ wine involves “I’ll jusssst have one sip… and the rest is yours!”, so she’s no good, lol. Since Mr Frenchman works in Port Melbourne and we’d often catch up for lunches and dinners around here, I thought it’s only quite fitting that we discover Nautical together. Also, I love how he tends to get really excited and animated about his food, I was confident he’d end up blurting many hilarious and quotable lines during the course of this meal.
I arrived a little earlier to take sunset snaps in and around the restaurant, and to spare Mr Frenchman the ordeal of waiting for me to take venue photos. He’s always one to tease and taunt me about my food photography, in that half-crude, half-affectionate French manner. But when I invited him to join me on this visit, oh how he started singing a different song… ha ha! He excitedly locked the date into his calendar within minutes!
Lounge section, and bar counter
Let me say that Nautical wasn’t that easy to locate… most of the signages says “No. 3 Station Pier” rather than “Nautical Restaurant”. Turns out the restaurant is but part of a bigger set-up called 3 Station Pier, which includes facilities for corporate functions, a cocktail lounge, and a daytime café called Blackbird.
When I eventually found Nautical, I was greeted by Eva, a tall smiling girl who knew about my impending visit. She took me on a short tour of the place before leaving me to take photos at leisure.
The restaurant wasn’t too busy that Tuesday evening. It had a semi-formal-yet-casual contemporary seaside restaurant feel. I liked the stretch of windows that opened out towards the water, dining there will be so peaceful on quiet nights. You can watch the sun set over Port Phillip Bay while you sip your wines (for me it’d be ciders) .
2007 Chateau de Cleary Muscadet (Loire Valley France) $31
I must say we chose a beautiful evening for that dinner. It was a 28ºC day in autumn… warm balmy sun, clear skies and a cool sea breeze. Mr Frenchman and I spoke in conspiratorial whispers wondering whether this free meal was really happening or if they’d forgot. But Eva came and sweetly told us we can order any bottle from the winelist and just pick any three courses from the menu. After some deliberation, we knew that our dish choices would ultimately involve mostly seafood. So Mr Frenchman selected a white wine that I couldn’t pronounce. He liked it.
But I have to quote my companion now. We sort of instinctively leant towards similar dishes from the menu to collectively share. But part of the menu included a seafood platter-like “Seafood Tower” for two, priced at $150. So without even breaking a grin, Mr Frenchman just said “so we will get the salmon and the garlic prawn for mains, and the seafood tower for dessert.”… lol!
Freshly Shucked Oysters $29.9 doz
Mr Frenchman really wanted oysters, it’s something he can’t resist. I’m glad he also likes having his oysters natural with just a squeeze of lemon. I had four and let him have the rest. I found them quite creamy and fresh. My companion, however, is more learned in this department and he told me that the oysters were “good considering it isn’t oyster season now anyway”.
But one thing I would’ve appreciated knowing was where the oysters came from. Tasmania? Sydney? These days, many of us diners really like knowing where our food comes from!
Half rock lobster cooked with Nautical’s mornay sauce, citrus wild rocket $34.9
This rock lobster entrée was really really delicious because of the moreish mornay sauce over it. There wasn’t enough of it between the two of us and we were fighting over the tiny morsels of sweet flesh that clung to its shell. I’ll have to say, though, that the half rock lobster here was on the small side for its advertised price.
Dusk quickly settled over Port Melbourne while Mr Frenchman and I chatted about work, our mothers, and where we intend to head towards in life next. It was such a beautiful night. There were only about 6-7 tables of diners and all of us were having a quiet, almost-romantic, kind of evening by the sea. I did ask Eva whether the restaurant was much busier on weekends and she said yes. So I’m not sure how it’d be like here on Friday and Saturday nights, probably rowdier.
Crystal Bay garlic prawns pan fried in Champagne creme reduction, jasmine rice timbale, red pepper, snap pea stir-fry $35.9
We were less enthusiastic about this main course dish. Despite its menu description, the Champagne creme reduction ended up having the fragrance and taste of a Thai-style curry to the both of us. It tasted coconutty and, I believe, slightly spicy. It reached a point where I wanted the sauce to be spicier! Along with the soft jasmine rice, I really thought I was eating a somewhat Westernised Thai prawn curry dish. Also, we could not really detect much garlic presence in the prawns.
Crisp skin Tasmanian salmon, red pepper and sugar snap risotto, harissa salsa, caper berry aioli $32.9
I’m not too familiar with risottos and would usually think of them as creamy-soggy fried rice… eek! So I’m glad I had an European’s thoughts about this dish here. I was still fiddling with my camera when Mr Frenchman started going on one of his trembly “ooo… ooooh… oooooh!!” foodie hysterics. Turns out, he absolutely loved the risotto, saying it was amazing!
Actually, the salmon wasn’t too shabby either, with a delightfully crispy skin. I personally found the risotto on the rich side, but it also had light zesty flavours mixed nicely into it. Good portion size too, this dish helped fill us up for this meal.
Vanilla bean panna cotta $12
Caramelised lemon tart $12
What was striking when the panna cotta arrived was how soft and wobbly it was on the plate, which nudged my companion into commenting how “it looks like boobs!”. *koff*… you’ll have to forgive him, he’s had more than a bottle of wine by this point.
But I didn’t have to hear any more hilarious anecdotes from him for a little while, because he next went silent… and then beatific sounds started emanating from across the table: “mmm…. mmmm…. mmmmmm!!!”. It was the raspberry sorbet this time… I saw Mr Frenchman’s face all scrunched up in ecstasy, with tears in his eyes. “Oh… oooh…. bee-u-tee-foool!!” so he told me.
Ahh… with all these quotable quotes from Mr Frenchman, I literally don’t even have to write my own thoughts about any of the dishes! But we both really liked the panna cotta dessert overall, and found the lemon tart just o-kay.
So this closes my second restaurant invite meal. Having Mr Frenchman as my companion was a great choice, it was a truly fun and animated night dining with him at this relaxing spot by the sea. Mr Frenchman told me he might come back here again on a warm day… like after a “shit day at work”, he can chill out here, have a good dinner, and speak French with Eva.
In fact, Mr Frenchman enjoyed his meal here so much that he left a very generous tip behind. It then occurred to me that while I’m doing my part by writing this post up for the restaurant, Eva and the other tall, dignified-looking boy who served us were the unsung heroes of the night. They took care of us very well. So Mr Frenchman’s gesture here was very touching. And I think they deserved it.
I’m glad my companion enjoyed this meal. Personally, I think some of the dishes here can lean towards the pricey side. And from the dishes we sampled, the garlic prawns did not match its menu description. The menu is wide, full of variety, and interesting enough. But I somehow think that while the dishes are quite good, they do not hold a distinct ‘voice’ that compels me to remember a restaurant. Maybe stream-lining the menu a little bit, and focussing on a few themes behind its dishes may help. Still, I enjoyed Nautical’s location and its peaceful and breezy ambience by the sea, and am thankful that I’ve been asked to share what I think about this restaurant.