Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Yorkshire Hotel, Abbotsford by Big Fil

I didn’t know the Yorkshire Hotel before searching for a pub for a Sunday afternoon lunch. Well I tell a slight lie, I’d seen it on Hoddle Street but it always looked a bit dodgy, I didn’t know its name and it’d never appeared to be a potential good place to dine. At least that was until Ms Kezza mentioned an awesome steak dinner that she had had there. Internet comment also looked very promising so a decision was made, the Yorkshire it was!

Despite its outward appearance as looking rundown and location in one the less salubrious parts of town, the Yorkshire sits towards the gastro end of the pub spectrum. The dining room is kind of nice with a few pictures around the walls, a step above the typical pub standard but without being anything too outstanding. Surprisingly quiet, considering its proximity to one of Melbourne’s major thoroughfares and in terms of the number of patrons, it’s all nice enough but in itself not enough to warrant a return visit.

What encourages further visits is the interesting menu and well prepared food. Choosing dishes took much longer than normal, with everyone finding several options which piqued their fancy. Entrée and main, main and dessert, this proved too difficult a decision for some with Foghorn Leghorn opting for a three course entrée sized meal.

While the steaks had been particularly recommended none of us went down that path. Instead from the entrees the fried lamb’s brains were a popular choice, alongside the crispy pork belly with Atlantic scallops, the garfish from the daily specials and the charcuterie, a selection of cured and cold meats served with a side basket of sliced bread.

The lamb’s brains were an adventure for some, with Ruby Grapefruit never having tried them before and quite surprised at the texture and taste. Served with a crispy fried coating, for me lamb brains themselves are a little tasteless and it is all about the contrasting texture of the dish. Slightly crunchy on the outside, firm but creamy meat in the middle, at first Ruby didn’t enjoy it but the more she ate the more she liked it. Positive comments on the apple and chorizo salsa as well.

Snooze went for the pork belly and scallops. With Snooze offering tastes around the table I can confirm the pork was good and tender, if the skin was not as crisp as I would have preferred. However, the pick of the dish appears to have been the scallops which I didn’t try, the one word description of which was ‘gorgeous’.

I was surprised that most of the table didn’t seem to know what garfish were, a subtly flavoured fish very commonly served back in Adelaide. However, Benny commented that his were cooked just right so that the bones were edible, although the skin could have been crisper.

As for Mr Leghorn’s charcuterie, all I tried was the yummy chicken liver but it looked very good as well as generous in size.

If all was good with the entrees, the mains were a bit more of a qualified success. The spiced lamb rack was the standout – I think everyone who didn’t order it (myself included) would have liked the chance to reorder when we saw it hit the table. The lamb was beautifully cooked, medium rare and tender and sweet. While the white bean cake served with it was good, even better was the smoked eggplant puree and the salad.

The seafood risotto was tasty and generous with the seafood. The unusual addition of green olives also boosted the flavours of the dish. One minor problem, the addition of a little too much oil which was noticeable in the bottom of the bowl.

Snooze went for the vegetarian option of the dosa pancake, filled with mushrooms and rice noodles and served with a green vegetable curry and char grilled tofu. Comment was that the pancake was very filling and the vegetables well cooked, but I think the giveaway that it was a good dish was the determined effort she put in to finish it.

Unfortunately and confounding Snooze’s theory that I always pick the best dish on the menu, Benny and I both went for the crispy veal shank rendang. Beautifully tender but not really crispy, I think the dish didn’t quite work. The two main issues were that it wasn’t what I would consider a rendang, a dish that I associate with a fairly ‘dry’ sauce. Secondly, veal is a very delicate meat and the flavours of a rendang might be better suited to a stronger flavoured meat. Still, the dish was saved somewhat by the very nice way it had been cooked.

With most of us opting for entrees the only dessert sampled was the black cardamom and coffee brulee, with Brittany biscuit and date chutney. I am a big fan of cardamom in Indian desserts and was a little disappointed that it wasn’t noticeable in the brulee. On the other hand, if it had been described simply as a coffee brulee I would have been very happy with it. Crispy on top and smooth underneath, and very well complemented by the date chutney. Served with a touch of ginger and possibly a hint of chilli, tender and flavoursome without being overly sweet. The Brittany biscuit got a bit of a mixed reception – I liked it but Benny was not such a fan.

My pub meals are usually at the cheaper end of the spectrum but I thought this was the best I had tried in Melbourne. The dishes were interesting and generally well thought out and the presentation was very good. No complaints about the competent service or the dining area, and the prices aren’t as cheap as some but that’s only to be expected for the quality available and the size of the serves. I think the fact that a number of us headed for the counter on the way out to grab a business card was the best indication that we would be more than happy to return. For me it’s definitely filled away for taking visitors interested in a bit more upmarket pub meal.

Food – 8
Ambience – 7.5
Service – 8
Price – 7.5

48 Hoddle Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067
Tel (03) 9417 3088

Yorkshire Hotel on Urbanspoon

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