I’ll be the first one to admit that, unless I’m headed to bargain heaven Daiso to pick up some weird Japanese matcha snack, I’m literally the last person on earth that would admit to setting foot inside Melbourne QV in search of food and drink. However, after hearing news of the latest menu at Meat Fish Wine—the upper-floor restaurant that boasts one of the best wine lists in Australia—my interest was piqued and my diary was out, ready to lock in an evening getting acquainted with their mouth-watering new offerings.
Meat Fish Wine’s latest menu revamp is largely the working of Head Chef Darren Mercaldi. Having worked with a variety of Melbourne’s most delicious kitchens (you can read about them here), Mercaldi’s been shaking up dishes on a monthly basis, thanks to the restaurant’s test kitchen series, which runs on the first Wednesday of each month. The resulting discoveries have made their way onto Meat Fish Wine’s main menu, meaning you’ll be swapping vanilla ice cream for smoked milk gelato, and eating freeze-dried mandarin slices like candies.
The first thing that hit me was the architecture of the venue itself: If you’re a nut for a gorgeous interior that feels more New York or Tokyo than, well….than like a shopping precinct in Straya, Meat Fish Wine’s gold leaf archway that leads you into the venue’s subdued bar area is a dream come true. The walkway leaves all notions of the Woolies beneath the space firmly at the door and had me feeling like I was stepping into a swanky gem in Midtown Manhattan—complete with infinity pool-esque water feature in the central dining area. So far, so good.
Thankfully, Meat Fish Wine celebrates all three of its namesakes in equal measure. The wine list and restaurant manager Giuliano Chiappa’s knowledge about each drop is worth going for in itself. With a sizable cellar that’s stocked full of European and local wines which are, quite frankly, toe-curlingly good, this is one venue where it’s definitely best to let the team choose your tipples and worry about the price tags later.
As for the menu, Australian ingredients take pride of place, with kangaroo, saltbush lamb, Rangers Valley wagyu covering the meat base, and Tasmanian salmon, locally sourced trumpeter, and melt-in-your-mouth squid representing ocean fare. The highlight of the bunch has to be the eye fillet, served in a traditional fashion with broccolini and a lemongrass jus, second to the kangaroo loin, served with quince and parsnips—both treats that are worth spending your red meat allowance on.
One piece of advice: It’s worth leaving some space for dessert here, especially if you’re planning on pairing it with a dessert wine or port (Pedro Ximinez is 100% my guilty pleasure). The deconstructed lamington is full of textures that will have your mind boggling, and that mandarin sweet treat is perfect for those who are keen on keeping things light.
But really, what makes this venue one that’s guaranteed to leave you with a memorable experience that lingers for weeks to come, is a blend of the service with the—eurgh, dare I say it—ambiance. Refined without being stuffy, beautifully designed without being gaudy, and with a view of (but no sound from) Lonsdale Street below, Meat Fish Wine has nailed that big-city hideaway that you want from a more-indulgent-than-the-average dining experience. Whether it’s a glass of something special with a platter of oysters and ceviche, or the full five courses (is three ever enough?), this inner city oasis has you covered.
Image credit: Griffin Simm for The Urban List