Middle Park, VIC 3206
Website: Middle Park Hotel
Ever since he smiled warmly at me during the Middle Park Hotel Launch from across the kitchen counter and stared deeply into my camera lens, I had a chef crush on Paul Wilson. Our paths crossed again at the Duck Duck Goose Launch where I actually got to speak to him and have my photo taken. Finally, I got to sit next to Paul at the Mount Zero Olive Oil Masterclass and pick his brains about food. So it was with much excitement when I saw Paul again at Middle Park Hotel when I went there for lunch. I casually waved at him from my table and he beamed his trademark warm smile at me again. Chef crush re-ignited.
Middle Park Hotel is one of Paul's many consulting venues and I decided to go there for breakfast initially. However, that Saturday was raining like crazy and Ling and I got there a bit late. Not to worry, we remembered how Paul said the steaks were fantastic so decided to do lunch instead. The dining room side of the hotel is fairly small and cosy. The room is decked out in rich dark colours, with dark walls matched by heavy dark tables. The antler light fixture certainly tells you that this is no vegetarian restaurant. It's meat, meat and more meat on the menu.
We were seated at a corner table so got a great view of the kitchen. The room was fairly empty when we were seated, but was soon to be filled with many people, especially a group of burly blokes who all ordered the largest steak (600g) and polished them off completely. Wow, that's some effort. They were also very joyous as they had won money on the horse races and so the noise levels in the room was through the roof.
We ordered a dish each, with Ling going for the dainty Tuna Sashimi Salad and I went for the New York Steak (I think, may have been a different cut) with Salad. Ling said her dish was very fresh and delicious. My steak was super tender and cooked perfectly medium rare. I loved the flavour and enjoyed the accompanying salad with tangy dressing.
For dessert, Ling got the Trifle. It looked really great, and she liked it. I found it ok, with the layers of jelly, mousse and cake not really exciting me too much. Instead, I loved my Bread and Butter Raisin Pudding. It was super rich and indulgent. With the syrup and custard poured over the top, it was extremely beautiful, and also sweet. I could only manage half of it.
The service was acceptable, with our waiter being quite the serious type. He did a fairly good job, although did leave us hanging after our mains until we finally asked another waiter to see the dessert menu. The ambiance in the room was originally very nice and then got boisterous, and finally back to a more relaxed feel. Overall I enjoyed the meal and think if you like meats, give it a try. The look of the Sunday roasts on the menu also caught my eye and I'd like to try that one day too.
Overall Rating: 14/20, Great steak and a nice feel in the restaurant.
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.