|First floor dining room at The Montpellier Public House, Belmore Road, Randwick|
It now comprises the ground floor Public Bar as a gastro pub with small share plates among larger posh pub meals for more casual dinners, and interesting sandwich and platter options at lunch.
The upstairs Dining Room is for the more formal eats with a modern British-French bistro bent, but by no means stuffy fine dining (I don't believe they serve pig's heads at double-clothed establishments). Both up and down stairs are enticing with a wood on wood on wood on sandstone look, but this evening, we're booked in to the Dining Room.
|Shiraz (back, potentially Yarra Loch) and 2009 Lethbridge Estate chardonnay|
This makes it a breeze to order, especially when it comes to wines by the glass. I start on a Victorian chardonnay that's, as promised, a fruity and unoaked one, while my dining companion heads straight for the off-menu shiraz of which I forget the name but enjoy the boldness.
|Complimentary bread (by Brasserie Bread) - country white (bottom) and quinoa and soy (top)|
|A dozen oysters from Mooney Mooney|
The oysters, from Mooney Mooney on the Hawkesbury River, are particularly plump varieties of presumably Pacifics given their subdued flavour and limited minerally-ness. With dressing and/or a squeeze of lemon, the full dozen are an almost endless reward for those more accustomed to ordering just one or two overpriced molluscs.
|Terrine of rabbit and turnips, bitter leaves, mustard grain|
The flavours were lifted to happy heights by the mustard grain; a sweet and lightly tart sauce atop the terrine slice that was a heavenly match with the bitter baby red and normal witlof leaves.
|Fried duck egg, black pudding and baked beans|
The egg was quite amazing; larger as a duck egg should be, but fried with the texture of a firmly poached egg white and a perfect oozing orange yolk. A peek beneath the white revealed a still white surface; not the golden, bubbled outer of your normal, at-home fried egg.
I think the amount I do not like blood in food goes towards how much I like home-made baked beans. Probably navy beans for their incredible likeness to the canned stuff, these were in a tomato sauce enriched with speck or other scrumptious cured pork chunks that were also in the bean mix. Breakfast for dinner – works.
|Whole oxtail in ale, baby carrots, Yorky puds, potatoes in dripping - for two|
There was some debate over head to tail, but tails won out with the whole braised ox tail over the pot roasted pig's head.
|Whole oxtail, served with jus|
It's definitely something I would have preferred to pick up and eat, although some parts of the tail bone were a little too large to do so in a ladylike fashion. Most the flavour came from the jus, which was served in a little jug for us to pour quite liberally over whatever we pleased.
There were more than enough baby carrots to keep us and the terrine happy; these cooked with the meat and taking on lots of meaty goodness on top of their baby sweetness.
|Potatoes roasted in dripping|
It was described to us as a tall glass of strawberry ice cream and many other sweet, beautiful ingredients. Fresh mango segments, blackberries, strawberries, chantilly cream, nut brittle, coulis – it was like the best Easter showbag ever where the good stuff just kept coming.
The end of the meal was a fantastic, sugar-assisted high. Although we were in the more formal part of The Montpellier Public House, it's obvious that the kitchen and menu aren't taking themselves too seriously; instead focusing on value, creativity and an honesty that makes the experience comfortable and extremely welcoming – whether you head up or down the stairs.