Stoke Bar + Kitchen Melbourne is the newly transformed downstairs area of Stokehouse in Melbourne’s CBD. Most of us are well aware for the horrible incident that occurred at Stokehouse St Kilda, the sea side landmark which was destroyed by fire. A few months later Stokehouse reopened on Albert Place near the Parliament end of Collins Street. The new venue still followed in the foots steps of Stokehouse St Kilda by providing fine dining in a light airy venue.
A year after launch, Stokehouse has decided to change things up and offer a casual, laid back setting downstairs whilst retaining its fine dining area upstairs. With the aid of designer Rabindra Naidoo downstairs has been transformed from a bright venue into an dark moody setting, fitting for the CBD location. The new warm, intimate setting has been enhanced by the ombre black walls that look like they have been singed by fire – a homage to the Stokehouse St Kilda perhaps?
The menu has also undergone significant alternations. Head chef Sam Webb has created a menu that focuses on small share plates, with options catering for those after a small snack or a substantial meal. We were invited to sample the menu at the launch of Stoke Bar + Kitchen and were interested to see what was on offer.
Charred Cucumber Migonette
To start we were served delicious fresh local oysters served with a charred cucumber mignonette. Simple but delicious.
Jose Juilos Tequila Cocktail
Not long after the oysters were served, venue manager Bryce Hughes tempted us with Stoke Bar’s signature cocktail – a Jose Julios tequila cocktail infused with chilli. This cocktail packs a punch however it strangely leaves you wanting more. For those who are not cocktail drinkers there is a large selection of wines and a few beers on offer.
Oysters Kilpatrick with Tomato Butter & Chorizo
These oysters are a little different to the normal Kirkpatrick oysters you have seen in the past, with the crumbled chorizo provides a nice kick as a finishing note.
Beef Tartare, Tomato & Dehydrated Egg Yolk
The beef tartare with dehydrated egg yolk is a clever play on a classic tartare. The tartare itself is incredibly flavoursome while the dehydrated egg yolk adds a nice crunch to a dish that can quite often be textually boring. I have to say that Paul and I both enjoyed this dish immensely, and we may have stalked the waitress so that we could have a second serving.
Salt Cod & Speck Croquettes with Romesco Sauce
The salted cod and speck croquettes are a lovely combination of flavours. Great as bar snacks.
The Stoke Burger with Pickles, Pancetta & Truffled Bechamel
The Stoke Burger was one of our highlights of the night. Quite simply, this is want you want a burger to be. The combination of a slightly toasted bun, juicy patty, crunchy pickles, pancetta and creamy truffled bechamel is perfect and each bite melts in your mouth.
Salt & Szechuan Pepper School Prawns with Spicy Mayo
School prawns are one of those dishes that people either love or hate. The idea of eating a whole prawn makes some peoples stomach churn however those who are partial to eating these tasty crustaceans will definitely enjoy this dish. The prawns are crisp and non-greasy while the spicy mayo adds a creamy contrast . This is the type of dish I would order as a bar snack paired with a lovely pinot gris. I was not the only one in favour of this dish, with the plate emptying as soon as it was placed on the table.
Roasted Beetroot Risotto with Horseradish, Walnuts & Sorrel
The beetroot risotto is a surprising creation. Everything about this dish screams that it shouldn’t work however somehow Sam Webb has created a dish that harmonises beautifully. The risotto is light with the roasted beetroot adding a sweet compliment to the peppery, earthy flavours provided by the horseradish and the sorrel. I tried the risotto without the walnuts however Paul suggested the walnuts added a pleasant textural element to offset the smooth creamy rice.
Roast Cauliflower, Cheddar & Panko
The roasted cauliflower covered in cheddar and panko made me think about the trick parents play on children. If you hide cauliflower in enough cheese you will mask its flavour and make it tolerable. This dish felt a little like that, it was nice enough however in comparison to the other dishes we were served it wasn’t one of the highlights.
Smashed Pav, Coconut Ice Cream & Mandarin
The smashed pav is a light summery dessert which is perfect is you want to finish your meal with something sweet but don’t want anything heavy.
The new Stoke Bar + Kitchen is welcome addition to the CBD’s casual dining scene. It’s a great venue if you are looking for somewhere new for a few drinks after work, lunch or a more substantial dinner. You are guaranteed a delicious meal that wont break the bank as all dishes on the menu are under $30.
Stoke Bar + Kitchen
7 Alfred Place
Mon – Sat: 12:00pm to late