Moon Under Water & The Everleigh

September 17, 2012

211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
I think, perhaps, just maybe, I’m in love. Serious infatuation and lust at the very least. Heart palpitations, flushed cheeks, warm palms, the works.
As you probably suspect, I’m lusting after a restaurant. Ridiculous though it may seem, my heart races just thinking about the evening I spent there last week. I can’t expect you to understand our deeply personal connection, obviously, but I’ll endeavour to explain it as best I can.
See the thing is, Moon Under Water really is preposterously good.
“We need to have dinner. Nice dinner”, said Y two weeks ago. Having flipped through the Age Good Food Guide earlier that day, I immediately booked us a table at Moon Under Water, part of Andrew McConnell’s latest venture on Gertrude Street, the Builders Arms Hotel. It’s been raved about by critics and bloggers alike, so I thought it a prime candidate for our bourgeois dinner for two.
The restaurant takes its name from a George Orwell essay, in which he sets out his requirements for the perfect public house. While deviating from Orwell’s specifications, Moon Under Water does come pretty close to perfection.
The room is visually arresting, an off-white colour palate stands in stark contrast to black chairs and table legs poking out from under linen tableclothes. The walls are unadorned, save for an extensive cabinet installation on the back wall with wine bottles and provincial-esque paraphernalia. It’s an excellent place for a date, and equally good for a small group of friends; the space is intimate but not cloyingly so, and the noise level sits happily at a conversational level.

The service is a far cry from the haughty door staff seen at so many CBD and inner-city places; instead you are wooed into submission by polite and friendly staff who take a keen interest in your opinions of the food and seem genuinely excited by the weekly menu. I think it rather ambitious of McConnell and restaurant partner Josh Murphy to change their menu every week, but it certainly makes for a dynamic dining experience!

The four course menu is $75 pp, which I thought very reasonably priced given the quality of the food. It was so nice to just sit back and let the chefs do the brain work for you – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with what they plate up.

As soon as we’d sat down, a dainty pair of cheese biscuits arrived at the table. They took me back to being a ten year old and ordering cheese twist pastries from the local baker with mum, a sharp and peppery mix of cheddar and parmesan.

The second amuse bouche consisted of a biscuit topped with cold and sweet broad-bean paste and bottarga. Loved the sweet-salty mix.

Once we’d polished them off, a waiter came by and lifted off the wooden board and ‘Ta Da!’ – instant bread, butter and dill pickles!

Y selected a beautiful bottle of 2008 Domaine Rolet L’etoile from Jura, France. It had a lovely honeyed taste to it but wasn’t saccharine or sticky; it was quite dry at the back of your palate and had a light fruity aftertaste. We really enjoyed it, especially served in these beautiful glasses.

The first dish was a pretty plate of marinated artichoke, burnt butter emulsion and jamon. I thought perhaps there was a tad too much of a lemon flavour coming through the artichokes, but overall the dish was well balanced between smokey and salty flavours, and the jamon was amazing.

The next course was my favourite from the evening – Moreton Bay Bug, asparagus and almond cream. This dish pushed all my buttons: steamed and tender, the bug had that wonderful fresh sea smell to it, the asparagus had the perfect amount of crunch and had been peeled, and that almond cream, good grief the almond cream! I wanted to wear it as a face mask it was so good. The best way to describe is it like almond humous, creamy and nutty. The bug had been perfectly cooked so that its flesh literally flaked apart with gentle provocation from your fork. Sublime.

The main course was roasted duck fillet, prettily pink, hidden underneath a duck ‘pie’ – braised duck leg wrapped in brik pasty and browned. The ‘pie’ was lightly spiced with, we suspect, star anise and cinnamon. Complementing all this duck was some sprouting cavalo nero (god dammit McConnell, how did you know I love cavalo nero?) and mustard pear. Yet another incredible dish.

Dessert time. The poached meringue was brilliant, and contrasted in both texture and temperature to the icy cold granita (rhubarb) and the buttermilk ice-cream. Buttermilk ice-cream and rhubarb granita, honestly McConnell, can you do no wrong? It’s like he’s peered into my brain and picked out all the proteins and vegetables and flavours that I like the most and put them together for me in a four course dinner. Legitimately ridiculous.

I once heard a friend describe her fiance as “if God had read my list of everything I want in a man, and put him right in front of me!” Well I’m sorry to be unromantic as f–k, but I’d much rather get everything I want on a plate (where’s the interest in being married to someone who’s perfect? A perfect meal, on the other hand…) – but I suppose therein lies the difference between someone about to get married and someone with a food blog!

Salted caramel chocolates to finish.

Everything at Moon Under Water was wonderful (I know, I know, I’m ranting); the food was sublime, the service flawless, the wine delicious, the restaurant name intelligent, and the decor beautiful and calming. Andrew McConnell, well done Sir! May we have that all again, please? Yes, yes?

The Everleigh, Level 1, 150 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

To cap off what was already a perfect night out, Y and I headed across the street to the Everleigh and polished off a few cocktails. Highly recommended is the Choker with scotch, angostura, bitters, sugar and absinthe. If you’re in the mood for gin, don’t look past a drink with elderflower, wine, gin and lemon, it’s the bomb.

Fark me I love Fitzroy.

Moon Under Water (Builders Arms Hotel) on Urbanspoon The Everleigh on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Cocktails, European, Fitzroy, Modern