MELBOURNE | Dutchess Melbourne is a New York inspired restaurant on the top floor of historic Melbourne pub The Duke of Wellington. Dutchess has created a “lounge” feel with suave circular booths, a sleek interior and a carefully crafted cocktail menu. Head chef Justin Wise has continued this theme into the food with an innovative sharing menu which focuses heavily on the use of premium local produce such as Cape Grim dry aged beef and Robbins Island wagyu. The City Lane was invited to try a few dishes from the menu and were keen to see what Wise had created. We didn’t pay on this occasion, but have included prices for your reference.
Stepping outside of the elevator and you’re immediately faced with the sleek bar. At the bar (and at your table) is a variety of tasty wines, cocktails and spirits. We were especially impressed by the cocktail menu which contained a mixture of classics and modern creations.
On the food front, it’s all about seasonal, top quality produce designed to share.
Natural Oyster With Fermented Chilli & Lime Granita ($4.50 each)
The oysters were a lovely way to start off the evening. The lime granita and fermented chilli worked well with the sweetness of the oyster without overwhelming the delicate flavour.
Gippsland Lamb Ribs With Cola BBQ Sauce ($15.00)
The lamb ribs were one of the highlights of the night. The lamb was beautifully tender and fell off the bone, with the spiced cola BBQ sauce adding an incredibly unique flavour. A must order dish.
Kingfish, Nuoc Cham, Finger Lime, Avacodo, Prawn Cracker ($16.00)
The kingfish was the most visually appealing dish of our meal. Taste wise there was a technical issue with seasoning. One end of the dish was perfectly balanced texturally and flavour wise while one end was very salty. I have a suspicion that the nuoc cham was not evenly distributed over the dish. If there was consistency throughout the dish it would have been perfect.
Cape Grim Porterhouse Steak, Beef Fat Potatoes, Garlic Aioli ($10.00); Pickled Zucchini, Goats Cheese, Frisee, Pine Nut Salad ($10.00)
The Grill is the pride of The Dutchess menu and rightly so, as the Cape Grim Steak (in this case pasture fed, dry aged 35 days) came out beautifully cooked. Seasoning however, was problematic and the included sauces were required to give the steak a flavour boost. When such great quality meat is used and it’s cooked so well, we much prefer a simple seasoning of salt and cracked pepper which allows the steak to shine. The beef fat potatoes with garlic aioli were delicious – crispy on the outside and soft on this inside. The zucchini salad unfortunately had a few issues. The first bite was like being kicked in the face with vinegar – and I generally love acidic, tart food. Paul then tried some of the salad and he couldn’t taste any vinegar. As we made our way through the bowl it them became oily at the bottom. I can only assume the dressing wasn’t mixed through the salad. A simple step for a salad but one that can make all the difference.
Violet Crumble, Chocolate Aero, Honeycomb, Violet Ice-Cream ($12.00)
This beautifully presented dessert started out with a lot of promise. The violet ice-cream was subtly flavoured and creamy, very enjoyable. The rest of the dessert however didn’t quite work. The honeycomb was damp from the ice cream and liquid in the base of the cup which made it chewy and really difficult to eat. The chocolate aero didn’t taste particularly chocolatey and therefore didn’t add anything to the dish. The idea is sound, but perhaps a different presentation and proportions would create the flavour and textural balance required to make this one work.
Dutchess has a very interesting menu that would suit most tastes. We’ve eaten chef Wise’s food elsewhere and are big fans of his cooking so we can only assume that this was an off-night for the kitchen. The foundations of the menu seem solid, and the ingredients are top notch meaning that it’s definitely somewhere that we’d be willing to try again.
Level 2 (above The Duke)
146 Flinders Street
Tue – Fri: 12:00pm to late
Sat: 5:00pm to late