The Town Mouse
Fakegf (The Hangry Bitch) and I caught up with Ashley (I’m So Hungree) here on a Sunday night a few weeks ago. While I’m a lot less active in the blogging (and Instagram) scene this year, the unusual dishes at this restaurant caught my eye when I was browsing my social media stream.
The Town Mouse is a handsome bar bistro that took over what used to be Nic Poelart’s Embrasse in Carlton. The previously formal French restaurant atmosphere gave way to a pulsing, gleamy art deco-inspired casual space with wood tables, high stools and a central bar.
Sourdough bread with seaweed butter
Goat’s cheese profiterole, caraway, thyme & our honey / 3ea
We selected our wines from the “thirsty’ menu, then chose a selection of share plates from the ‘hungry’ menu. I have to admit I was quite tickled by the adorable (150ml) mouse imprints on our wineglasses.
The menu is interesting with quite a bit of fusion and risk-taking going on. Yuzu, kimchi and wasabi can sit astraddle with caraway, parmesan and tarragon on the same page. Even the sourdough bread came with a twist. It was served with seaweed butter, which tasted like it had hints of matcha green tea.
We started off with a rather dessert-like entrée of goat’s cheese profiteroles with honey and spice. Fakegf loved it.
Venison tartare, pickled radish, nashi pear, ginger & wasabi / 15
Next was a dish I really liked. Cubed raw venison is marinated with gentle Japanese flavours reminiscent of ponzu sauce, and lifted with a pinch a wasabi.
Lamb belly, dried carrots, artichokes, goat’s milk, pistachio & orange blossom / 23
We ordered a series of share plates as ‘mains’. First up, we had these tasty squares of lamb belly, a departure from the ubiquitous pork belly in Melbourne restaurants.
Of course, lamb doesn’t have the same crisp crackling like pork skin has. It was pretty good nevertheless, I actually liked the gentle lamby flavour along with the thin-skinned crackling and unctuous belly fat. And the floral hint of orange blossoms in the green emulsion made the dish quite unusual.
Kipflers cooked in toasted hay, buttermilk, crisp sage & almond brown butter / 12
Potatoes cooked in hay, we definitely were curious about that!
True enough, the kipflers held the rustic aroma of warm hay and it made me think we were eating in a barn. Tangy buttermilk helped lift the richness from the browned butter with almonds.
Blackened pork jowl, smoked carrot kimchi, cos, green apple & peanuts / 23
Our next dish of crisp pork jowl was again a delight to eat.
The jowl was rendered very nicely but still retained its smooth ‘cheeky’ flavour which tasted almost milky to me. Slivers of green apple balanced the dish nicely. Ashley prefers the taste of pork jowl to pork belly, and here, I can understand why.
Slow roast red cabbage, prune, parmesan & red apple / 14
Our final savoury dish turned out to be both Fakegf’s and Ashley’s dish of the night.
Slow-cooked red cabbage cradled rich pockets of parmesan cheese and red fruit. The girls went stir crazy with this dish, while it reminded me of a lovingly cooked wintry casserole. Rich and sweet… very warming and comforting.
Now it’s time for dessert!
Chocolate tart, thai flavours / 15
Ashley had a chocolate tart that came with a twist. It was paired with Thai flavours that was not unlike a spicy pineapple salad!
Warm rooibos braised quince, walnut, verbena, coffee & white ale ice cream / 14
My dessert was okay. Truth be told, I was more interested in what the girls ordered, but did not want to double-up. I didn’t mind the braised quince, but the white ale ice cream tasted a little odd to me.
Lemon and yuzu curd, white chocolate, burnt coconut, spiced rum & coconut sorbet / 14
Fakegf of course had the lemon curd, but this one also had yuzu in it. I liked this dessert the most out of the three.
Photogenic Ashley, in her element
2013 seems to be a year of eating out less. Priorities have changed, my posts are less frequent and I’ve even grown a bit bored with brunching… *GASP*! But I’m glad there are still places in Melbourne that keeps me interested and on my toes as a foodie.
The three of us had a lovely meal at The Town Mouse, and I went *squeee* for a bit when I saw that the bill came with a glow-in-the-dark business card. I’m keen on returning to try out more dishes from the menu.
Read here for Ashley’s and Fakegf’s take: