Pure South - A consistent cruise south.
I haven’t been to Southbank to have dinner for ages. The last time it was the old Blake’s. It was a cool, stylish, new Melbourne, cutting edge chef, rock star customers, new cuisine called Mod Oz. An electric cuisine of South East Asian & European flavours.
There was stacks of smoked salmon on the menu, saltwater duck, Thai style fried fish, Caesar salad, and bubble & squeak. A kind of freestyle, it’s all good approach, which we all loved about Australian food at that time. The wine list & the restaurant was a whole lot of fun!
Sadly, fringe benefit tax and Melbourne’s hunger for something new and more European saw the demise of great Mod Oz restaurants like Blake’s. It was Ironic because the Brit-pack chefs actually loved those restaurants because they were refreshing and a welcome departure from the Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffman and Sir Terrance Conran clichés, they were pumping out in their own restaurants!
A lot can happen in a year or 2 in this industry and to re-establish a new business and trade successfully for 10 years, it’s quite an achievement. This leads me to my next dining visit to Southbank which is undergoing another renaissance. There you can find quirky Pony Island bars, flash new Japanese restaurants from interstate, Glamorous Brassieres and savvy iconic restaurateurs strutting their stuff again.
It was a Thursday night and Pure South was pumping, I counted 150 plus guests which looked like they were all about to order. That gets the engines firing in the kitchen let me tell you!
We were greeted promptly and recognised by a notable industry professional. A nice table by the fire was provided, with our drink orders taken smoothly. The menus were corporate and concise, no need for questions, this is a venue that understands its customers and concept perfectly!
A celebration of Tasmania which made me crave cool climate wine, lime and fish sauce. The wine list was terrific and offered great value and options at every price point. With only 1 Pacific Rim inspired dish listed I chose the $55 Clonikilla Viogner and a Tasmanian Pacific Oyster experience (4), which means prepared 4 ways. My guest chose six natural oysters and a twice cooked pork belly, crispy filo roll with Mediterranean flavours.
New season asparagus with king Island free range egg gribiche. Apart from a soggy oyster tempura all were generous and precisely prepared.
Our service throughout was paired back and respectful which suited our needs perfectly, Tasmania having arguably the best seafood and bespoke red meat in Australia.
A second bottle of this time local Pinot Gris was ordered to pair a mostly seafood, white meat centric ordering.
I believe you can judge a chef by the way he purchases and prepares his seafood. Our main courses were the highlight, perfectly cooked pristine fish, Blue-Eye Trevella with ink braised borlotti beans, seared calamari and delicious salt cod fritter was outstanding!
Roasted Huon salmon in the style of Marseille was perfectly executed the sauce respectfully poured at the table was deserving and well balanced.
A well cooked Winnaleah pork chop would have enjoyed some time in appley brine, as the feedback was it tasted a little dry.
My guests scotch fillet was terrific as were the accompanying condiments.
Sides looked great, but there was an issue with our cauliflower gratin sauce having a faint burnt taste unfortunately. A clipping of a culinary hurdle this skilled kitchen won’t allow in the future I am sure.
Portions at Pure South are complex and generous. This is robust European cookery of the highest order so desserts were almost overlooked as we were very full and satisfied. The menu read really well so we opted for a red cow dairy cheesecake with exotic fruit, Anvers chocolate praline mousse with mandarins and roasted hazelnuts, Baked lemon pudding with lemon and thyme Ice cream and an affogato. There was also a great local cheese selection perfectly detailed on the menu. Our deserts were equally generous and mostly well executed, perhaps a lower temperature with the cheesecakes cooking and more tropical rather than practical with the fruit topping. At $18 a slice for chocolate mousse there is very little room for error and a need for fine detail, which sadly the soggy praline crust did not provide but the rest was superb.
Pure South has a talented and well trained kitchen and professionally run floor. A busy night like a ferry across the Tasman can sometimes lead to a culinary bumpy ride, but the highlights and spirit of the menu will mean you always leave happy and very satisfied.
What the Chef's says - My food is inspired by my experience, in life & travels, and fabulous produce where flavour is key. There is a reference to a memory in everything we do. It’s about letting the best quality ingredients speak for themselves, so that on the surface things appear quite simple and even rustic, but in simplicity we can find refinement, elegance and a modern touch. I believe in a sustainable, ethical approach. Provenance and artisan suppliers are also a key influence in the menu at Pure South. Ashley Davis.
What Wilson says - Hard working professional outfit with great produce!
When can we go - Lunch Sunday - Friday. Dinner 7 days.