389-391 Brunswick St
Fitzroy 3065 VIC
Phone: (03) 9419 7411
So a friend was coming from Hong Kong and we were all deciding where to go. After a lot of discussions, the decision was left to me as usual. So I made my pick, St Jude's Cellar. Going on reviews and the menu, it read really good.
It definitely looked good once we stepped into the building too. Light, airy, open, bustling.
Here's we are, one big happy full group......NOT. For once, I have to agree with the group and say that St Jude's is probably not the best value for money. I'm all for good food and will take quality over quantity any day. But at St Jude's, which markets itself as more a casual dining experience, the price is more like a fine dining experience because of the serving sizes.
Let me profess that there are a heap of herbs which I don't have a clue what they are. But on the whole, no dish was bad. Some very extremely interesting, and some really really worked and were very good. I'll list the dishes below and then give a short summary on some dishes.
Terrine with Sourdough and Prosciutto with fresh figs.
Salt cod, raw and cooked vegetables.
Smoke eel, eel pate, rye bread and beetroot relish.
Cured Kingfish, celery, red radish and bottarga.
Squid, prawn, tomato, lemon and oregano.
Spanner crab, preserved lemon, basil, bread and French butter.
Mulloway, baby fennel, sorrel adn purslane.
Poached veal fillet, chopped egg, shallot, parsley and almonds.
Poached chicken breast, confit leg, potato, bacon and lovage.
Slow roasted pork shoulder, caramelised baby turnips.
Dry aged grass fed beef, salsa verde.
Lamb sausage, chickpeas, parsley and coriander.
Let's start with the Cured and Preserved dishes. The Terrine was really good and had all these complex flavours. The Prosciutto however, was like any you can get from a deli, and to charge $16 for those few slices and figs, well that's a bit over the top.
With the Seafood dishes, I was really suprised by how good the Mulloway tasted with teh fennel and herbs. They worked a treat and was the clear highlight for me. The Spanner crab dish was good too, from the tiny morsel I tasted. You can tell how small it is by comparing it to the small half knob of butter.
The Meat dishes were a bit larger in serving, but still extremely small, suitable for Supermodels only. Of the meat dishes, the Poached Veal with the crispy almonds really worked. The complex flavours went round my mouth and I was trying to taste each part. My favourite dish of the night was the Lamb Sausage with the chickpeas. What a fantastic dish with again, a variety of flavours that blended well together.
I've been harping on about the serving sizes because St Jude's are being marketed as a casual type place so I expect the prices to match. I know the food is good quality and on the whole, taste good, but you still need to be full. With the meal costing nearly $50 each (we got two servings of all the meat dishes), not one single person was even half way full. To be full, we would have needed to eat double as much as we did, which then opens up many more options once you start looking at the $100 price range.
Overall Rating: 12/20, Food is good but serving sizes way too small for the cost.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.