Trunk & My Last Day Of University

November 2, 2011

275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Friday was my last day of university.

Well. I should disclose; it wasn’t really my last day. It was my last day of my undergraduate degree. And I’m feeling slightly nostalgic. Certainly it’s not as bad as when I finished school. I currently tutor a number of year 12 students in maths, and they told me a story of how on the last day of school, the entire year 12 cohort stood in the school yard and cried their eyes out. Intense, to say the least.

My last day wasn’t like that, thankfully. There was no countdown, no ceremony, no scribbling messages onto each other’s clothes. But some feelings do resonate. It’s the same dichotomy: sadness, because no one enjoys seeing good things end, and excitement, because you’ve reached another major point in your life, another accomplishment, another point of opportunity. Change is what drives you into other areas of life. It shoots you straight into them, with barely any time to recognise what’s happening.

I’m seeing this with myself and with my friends, some of us beginning or committing to things before we properly know what we’re in for or, indeed, what we want out of them. Which can be daunting and uncomfortable, especially when you’re told that you should know what you want by the time you’ve finished studying. But I maintain that these significant moments of change are the best opportunity to springboard into a new pursuit. Sometimes closing your eyes and jumping is actually the best policy. Besides, half the fun is landing somewhere and working out how you can make the best of it.

Certainly it’s a hectic time, what with final exams and preparations for summer internships and even more preparations/decisions about graduate study vs. work for next year. But I feel confident and ready, and happy about it all. I’m glad for the past three years, but I can’t wait for the next. For anyone else finishing something this year, congrats, now go do something with it.

To celebrate, a group of us went out for “drinksies” and dinner. Choice of venue: the gloriously attractive (even in the rain) Trunk.

I’m afraid my outside photos are a little blurry because it was raining, and my inside photos are a little blurry because there wasn’t enough lighting. But it’s better than nothing, I suppose.

Trunk sits on Exhibition Street, and is one of those rare blocks of land that doesn’t have a tall office block on it. It’s a haven in the CBD, with it’s courtyard prettily decorated with fairy lights and small trees, the central feature being a very old (I’m told) Coral tree. The signpost in the corner is actually necessary, since there are so many spaces to occupy, and it’s quite difficult to orient yourself and find your friends when you first arrive. The entire site has two garden areas, a main bar, a dining area, a private dining room and the Trunk Diner building, where they’d opened another bar for the night.

Fortunately though, each space feels just the right size, rather than one big unfriendly complex.

I quite liked this shot of the contrast between the blue glass of the city buildings and the warm red brick of Trunk.

More fairy lights. Twinkle twinkle.

Inside, the fit-out is decidedly and unabashedly cool. A high ceiling reminds you of the building’s original purpose, as a Synagogue in 1859, and the white-black colour scheme gives a mod look. Just walking in, wearing my trench coat and heels, I feel older and cooler instantly. I catch myself beginning to pout in that cool-snobby adult way but manage to stop myself before I look foolish. Whew. Close call, better get myself a drink.

The city-slick black and white lines continue into the dining area, which is rather small compared to the rest of the space. If asked, I’d categorise Trunk as a bar, then a restaurant. The menu ranges from pizza (very reasonably priced at < $20) to pasta $20-$28 and then some main plates that are more pricey. The barramundi sounded really good, done with chickpea puree, ratatouille and Moorish spices.

I very nearly ordered a pizza with gorgonzola, mascarpone, walnuts, asparagus, pancetta and radicchio, but instead settled on the baked house made pasta rolled with pumpkin, gorgonzola, walnuts and sage caramelised butter. “Settled” turned out to be a woefully appropriate word. Unfortunately, it tasted like I was settling too, the first bite was bland, but by the time I was half-way through I was overwhelmed because the dish was too sweet. I enjoyed the crunch from the walnuts, the pasta was nice and the flavours should have worked well together, but the dish needed more salt (perhaps more gorgonzola?) and a good crack of pepper.

In contrast, T and R, who ordered the roast duck cannelloni with pistachio, currant and tomato sugo said it was delicious. I got a bite of T’s, and it was wonderfully fresh, not cheesy or heavy at all, and the strong musky flavour of the duck shone through. C ordered a simple but rewarding dish of gnocchi with tomato sugo, which he seemed pleased with.

The rest of the group ordered pizzas which, much like the pastas were a little hit and miss. H, C and D opened their pizza-economies and engaged in a little free trade, so as to try each others’. They all decided that the “Melbournian” and the “4 Salumi” were both put to shame by “The Stock Broker” a quirky mix of buffalo mozzarella, blistered corn, peas, stracchino, roast pancetta and rocket (pictured below).

J, who also ordered a pizza, pursued a closed economy and enjoyed her Verdure with tomato, mozzarella, olives, grilled zucchini and capsicum.

Some of us were hankering for desserts, which, in a similar vein to the mains, provided two solid dishes and one flakey result. I’ll start with the disappointment first: the nougat parfait with Persian fairy floss. I must say that the flavours were good, but the parfait had a strange texture because of the mixed in pieces of praline and dried fruit. I think the dish would have held up much better had those elements been sprinkled on top. My second issue is with the fairy floss, which had ben squashed into a hard lump on top of the parfait and wasn’t very nice.

In contrast, the tiramisu and the creme brulee were delicious, the brulee in particular had that fabulous crack to its top and a silky, creamy custard underneath.

All up, a very pleasant evening was had, we were all quite chatty after having finished classes that day, but the heavy rain after our meal put us off finding another bar to go to.  I’ve decided that I like Trunk. I would return, but only to the bar, since I found their food to be high on ideas but low on execution.

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Filed under: Italian, Melbourne CBD