December 23, 2011

131 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Welcome to my second consecutive milestone post: my 101st! As my brother would say gleefully, “It’s a palindrome!”. I’m happy that, once again, I have a brilliant restaurant to write about for this oh-so-distinguished post. Probably one of my favourites from the whole year and yet another standout from the North-of-Melbourne crowd: Huxtable.The shopfront is nondescript; finding the restaurant’s name out the front was almost as hard as finding a parking spot on Smith Street on a Saturday night. Once inside, I am flooded with memories of Mad Men episodes, triggered by the dark brown, 50s style fit-out. Dining pairs are prevented from making a difficult decision about seating, as both options are good: the easy going bench seat or an extremely comfy leather swivel chair. N took the bench, I had the swivel chair (endless fun ensued).

There is an impressively broad range of food on the menu: mainly Asian but some European, some Middle Eastern. But we noted, after our meal, that it all manages to work together in some sort of divine congruence. Or perhaps we just ordered well, though honestly I don’t think you could order badly from a menu like this. Throughout the meal, the waitstaff were very attentive and rather quick – our drinks arrived within a few minutes, but we didn’t feel rushed.

I was driving, but N indulged in a Sangria (I may have had a teeny tiny teensy winsy sip) and it was brilliant – red wine plus other spirits and a light fruity taste. Love the look of her black nail polish here.

Having read up on Huxtable before arriving, it seemed the “must-try” of the night was the jalapeno and cheddar croquette. Holy hell these were GOOD. Piping hot, cheesy, creamy potato gooiness with a crisp, salty shell and a throaty smack from the jalapeno.

The Oyster Po’Boy was actually the reason we went to Huxtable in the first place, and these little bready morsels did not disappoint. Quite a filling starter, the star of the show was the srirachi mayo. The shredded iceberg lettuce meant that I couldn’t get the thought of McDonald’s out of my head, but the fried oysters were gold. Sorry about the bad photo – my hands were shaking, either from exam exhaustion or excitement.

The rest of the menu is partitioned into “Sea”, “Land” and “Earth”, and the recommended amount for two people is one of each. From the sea, we had the kingfish sashimi with horseradish, apple and dill. I am seeing kingfish sashimi all over the place these days, and I am loving it. This was a kind of European-Japanese mix, and reminded N somewhat of a bagel – freshness from the fish, almost dairy-like creaminess from the avocado, spice from the horseradish. Sushi house meets the Synagogue.

In any case, it was brilliant and fresh and highly recommended.

Our land dish was the Korean BBQ pork ribs with spicy slaw and chilli gherkin. And awesome dish – fatty and sticky and WHAM with the spices! We finished the ribs off with our hands, munching off every last bit of sticky meat. There wasn’t really much spice that I could detect in the slaw or the gherkin, but to be honest there was more than enough on the ribs to keep my lips tingling till dessert.

Last came our “Earth” dish, lebanese cauliflower with harissa yoghurt and dukkah. I’ve noticed quite a few inventive and delicious plates starring cauliflower recently (cauliflower risotto, anyone?), so I was keen to try this. Like at Cumulus, it had been blanched and then crisped up in the oven and browned (but not burnt – how did they do this??). My one qualm with this dish was that there was too much yoghurt and it got a bit overwhelming. Some sort of fresh/spicy element would have cut through it nicely.

We were both quite full by this stage but, as is often the case with Miss N, ordering dessert was all too easy,
“Oh man, rhubarb doughnuts…”
“You read my mind”

It really is preposterous how much I like rhubarb – this was a brilliant dessert (please please keep this on the menu!!), a large serve of fluffy doughnuts with piping hot rhubarb jam (poor N burnt herself while posing for a food-action photo), orange blossom custard and a yoghurt sorbet. We dragged the doughnuts through the fragrant custard and cleansed our palates with the icy, tangy sorbet.

I don’t have much else to say, really, beyond book yourselves a perch at Huxtable and order yourself some top quality nosh. If you have one New Years resolution that you’ll actually keep, make it this.

To finish, a question I find myself asking more often than I should, Where the fuck should I go for drinks?

Huxtable on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Asian, European, Fitzroy, Modern