300 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC 3066
03 9489 4609
This year’s paw prints into Melbourne’s fine dining scene has gone much tamer for me… no more T-Rex stomp marks into posh, big-name places! It is partly because I’m trying to save money for travel, and partly also because my eating habits are quite dependent on having friends ask me out to places (where I’d normally automatically say ‘yes!’) and this year, I’m not being asked out as much. Yes… I’m a strange cookie.
But there’s one person whom I can depend on asking me out to eat, and that’s Fakegf. We’re flying to Sydney for a weekend next month just for food! Even now that she’s seeing The Angmoh, we still explore new places regularly, and it has reached the point where the three of us can eat out together like chums. On this front, I’m glad that The Angmoh isn’t the jealous type. On the contrary, he recently treated Fakegf and myself (ie. the food obsessed Singaporeans) to a meal at Scott Pickett’s newest venture – Saint Crispin.
Scott Pickett’s previous venture was with The Estelle Bar & Kitchen in Northcote, which met with a lot of approval amongst foodies. Fakegf is a big fan of his style of food, so we swooped in for a reservation once we got wind of Saint Crispin’s opening. The restaurant took over where Cavallero used to sit in Collingwood… Smith St (and Gertrude St) is really flourishing with edgy and chic eating places these days… I ought to explore this area more.
We dined here on the night of the Gillard vs Rudd stand-off. I don’t know about you… but I think it isn’t great for Australia’s stability having members within the leading political party ousting each other off their seats. But that’s as far as I’d comment, cos to be honest… I am not the savviest person when it comes to politics.
The interior’s typically ‘Collingwood’ fashionable… with gutted interiors, distressed brick walls, wood floors and tables, high ceilings, a long bar, an open kitchen and a casual table setting. In terms of booking, you’ve got the choice of a 6.30pm seating and an 8.30pm seating.
The menu’s crisply etched onto a white card and it’s divided traditionally into entrees, mains and dessert. Two courses is priced at $50, three courses at $60, and the seven course tasting menu for $120. It’s considerably more upmarket price-wise compared with The Estelle’s $90 seven course tasting menu. We’re rather tight on our wallets this year, so we opted for three courses at $60.
Potato crisps, bois boudran, chopped shallots, vinegar salt
Before entrees arrived, these came as a little ‘snack from the kitchen’. As fancy as it sounded, it basically tasted like vinegared potato crisps with dabs of ketchup. Sorry my dears… no glorifying of things in this blog.
Grimaud duck, heirloom beets, foie gras parfait and cumquat
Pullet egg, mushrooms, parmesan, goats curd and black rice
But on to the gorgeous food. Just to give you an idea, whenever each course arrived, we ate into our dishes with excitement and in silence.
The Angmoh’s duck entree tasted rich and succulent while Fakegf’s pullet egg dish had an earthiness that was warm and comforting. (NB: I’m lifting the thoughts directly from Fakegf’s corresponding post here). But yes… my taste of Fakegf’s egg dish made me envious… it was beautiful indeed!
Wagyu bresaola, quail egg, scorched cauliflower and hay ash
My entree was equally good. Thin discs of cured bresaola hid a secret mound of tartare and pickled cauliflower, and the dish was dusted with hay ash. I’m at loss with elaborating it any further.
Bread, lescure butter, onion & creme fraiche spread
Being newly opened, I think the floor staff were still getting their footing and they forgot to serve bread after we’d ordered. When our entrees were cleared, I asked our waiter about it and he apologetically rectified things. The breads came with fine French Lescure butter and an aromatic onion spread.
Jerusalem artichoke, parsnip, sunflower seeds and tuscan black cabbage
On to the mains… Fakegf once again chose a wonderful vegetarian dish. Creamy and warming with a bold, verdant presence of deeply green cavolo nero. She described it as an ‘opulent winter dish’.
Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks
The Angmoh and myself went with lamb… blushingly pink with a sous vide-like tenderness. It came with air-filled ‘pillows’ of crisp potato, a glorious piece of slippery jack mushroom, and its jus intermingled with a herbaceous floor of nettle purée. Such a beautifully balanced dish.
Strathdon blue, Ross-shire Scotland, crackers and fruit bread
As lavish dining goes, the portions can be smallish. Thankfully, The Angmoh’s dessert of cheese, crackers and fruit bread helped fill that gap. The Strathdon blue had a gorgeous depth in flavour, I stole more than just a bit.
Poached rhubarb, burnt custard and blood orange
Fakegf was blown away by the caramel custard in her dessert, and that’s a big thing for her because she normally isn’t a fan of custards. It’s nice seeing her so happy.
Chocolate, earl grey, milk and ginger
I had a lovely dessert featuring rich chocolate mousse with earl grey ice cream and gingerbread creme. I’m not normally a fan of earl grey tea, but that earl grey ice cream was something else altogether… so good!
Petit fours came encased in a medieval book, wherein lay pieces of sweet apple jelly with sour apple coating.
Not many chefs in Melbourne gets me excited. Off the top of my head, I tend to enjoy food from Matt Wilkinson (of Pope Joan), Nic Poelart (of Brooks Bar) and Scott Pickett. And we follow them like groupies from venture to venture.
While I miss the more affordable prices at The Estelle, where one could go for the tasting menu without your wallet disintegrating, our meal at Saint Crispin still hit many high notes with well thought-out and beautifully balanced dishes that’s so typical of Scott’s style.
Read Fakegf’s version of events here!