Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mr Hobson, Port Melbourne (by invitation), by Bureaucrat

On a bright, sunny day, I took up the invitation from the team at Mr Hobson in Port Melbourne to check out their extensively renovated restaurant, which is located on Station Pier (just meters away from where the Spirit of Tasmania is docked).  

Mr Hobson is one of a handful of restaurants at Station Pier.  As such, there's lovely laid back vibe from the sun and the sea; the upmarket low-rise apartment complexes and the tram stop nearby lend a villagey atmosphere to the area.

As Mr Hobson is located at Station Pier (as opposed to down road where the main shopping precinct is located), everything is a bit more relaxed and refined.  Even the seagulls are well behaved (they don't squawk or aggressively squabble over a chip) - they just patiently take turns standing on the bollards.

In recent times, Mr Hobson has had extensive renovations which as resulted in a spacious, light and airy cafe, bar and restaurant areas.  The expansive views to the sea and the open windows mean you get a lovely cooling breeze throughout the restaurant.  

The interior decorations has a hint of Scandinavian design that's adapted to Australian life - it's a sort of place where you wish it was your own house, or that of a good friend's house so that you can hangout there as often as possible.

While there are your standard main dishes, the menu is mostly centered on sharing plates.  As such, there's a range of starters, entrees, light dishes and sharing plates.  To that end, Mother Hen and I chose four dishes to share.

 First up was a starter - lamb cigars, which had slow cooked lamb wrapped in filo pastry, cucumber, lemon and yoghurt sauce. Tender, shredded lamb encased in the buttery but light filo pastry - it was almost like a mille feuille for lamb.  It was just the right size, as the cigars are deceptively rich but the size and the filo pastry give it an illusion of being a light snack. Plus, the lemony yoghurt sauce helps cut through the richeness.  It was a lovely way to start the meal.

Along with this, we had an entree - seared scallops w baby rocket, crispy prosciutto and truffled cauliflower puree.  A quartet of plump scallops cooked just right (not too under or over-cooked) with ripe cherry tomatoes.  The subtle flavours of the scallop was matched with the cauliflower puree.  It was good that the truffle flavour didn't overpower the scallops.  

For our next two dishes, we had seafood saffron fettucini w prawns, scallops, calamari and mussel, olive oil, white wine and chilli.  This was one of the light meals and we went for the entree sized version. Nice al dente pasta with a hint of chilli for a kick.  It had a fairly generous amount of seafood tossed through it (always a good thing!).  I loved the colours from this dish - and the fresh diced tomatoes gave it lightness.  Very summery, indeed.

To add some greens into our meal, we also got the main sized Mediterranean vegetable salad, which had grilled eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, pumpkin, bocconcini, kalamata olives and balsamic vinaigrette - not to mention lots of peppery rocket and sweet cherry toms. This was a very generous sized dish!  A good mix of all the veggies and I especially liked the char-grilled flavour.  We struggled to finish this.

Food – 7
Ambiance – 9
Service – 7.5*
Price – 7*
*Scores are notional as we were guests of Mr Hobson.

Despite the fact that Mr Hobson is located on Station Pier (I'll admit that a pier is not where I would think to go for a dining experience), Mr Hobson is quite popular.  On the weekend, the brunch crowd was already out in force, soaking up the sun and the good vibes in the outdoor seating area.  As our meal went on, a mix of small tables, solo diners, young families and a large party came in to enjoy the view and the food.  I can imagine this place would have wonderful ambiance for night-time drinks.  I know I've said it alot, but Mr Hobson has a wonderful relaxed but special vibe about it.

Service is friendly and comes with a lot smiles.  There is quite a range of dishes to choose from and based on the dishes that we tried, the dishes are simple, clean flavours and executed well.  While we were guests, I did note that the menu items are a tad pricier than your average suburban cafe, but probably not unusual given the upmarket area.  However, for that view and the vibe, it's well worth it.

Mr Hobson
9 Waterfront Place
Port Melbourne 3207
Telephone: 9646 6299

Mr Hobson on Urbanspoon

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