Papa Goose - London Calling.
On a 12 degree November evening the weather in Melbourne was a never ending conversation.
It’s a bit like naming a restaurant or bar, something I’ve observed over for years in this business is to keep it simple and keep it catchy, and yes, the opinion you're only as good as your concept, cooking and service values.
Which takes to me to dinner at Papa Goose, the former home of the short lived Chophouse - what a great name! Some would say not a bad concept either, but how was the rest?
I am pleased to say the chef owner operated Papa Goose has both great service and food values with a link to an endearing identity. Modern British, a term I haven’t heard for years, is a friendly, hard not to like and great value package U.K. gastro pubs have made their own.
On a miserable night, in the city's hottest dinning precinct Flinders Lane, the city was deserted, cold, and windy - with the spring racing carnival and Melbourne Cup fever finally cured - we were relieved to walk into a nearly full dining room with a warm friendly Maître d'.
We studied the compact beverage list of local and international wines and some tempting cocktails. The menu looked great, with some classics, interesting, and friendly dishes.
Neale White an Australian chef, who for years I thought was English trained, worked in London in the 90s as did I. That food era was less about Michelin stars and more about the food customers wished to eat, this reshaped London's dining with fun and informal eateries exploding on to the scene. The Maître d' was fun and enjoyed his work, he told us he was half Greek half French and also worked in London in the 90's - with too many Aussies too! The specials were recited nicely, some wine enquiries answered perfectly, and a bottle of local Pinot dispatched.
The potatoes of the day were hand cut chips. So it was rule Britannia all the way with our menu choices. Some nice bread and complimentary bowl of cauliflower and truffle oil soup was served.
We chose St Helens oysters, cheddar croquettes, followed by Spring bay mussels with cider! Spring asparagus with new season garlic and hazelnut mayonnaise, and the pick - from an impressive list of steaks - a 40 day dry-aged Black Angus rib eye to share, with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings.
The oysters were freshly shucked but overly cared for in my opinion, being removed from the shell cleaned and returned to the shell with their lids placed on top - it’s the Rubik's cube / Russian doll approach to opening oysters I haven’t seen before - as some oysters seemed to be from the wrong shell (i.e. big oysters returned to small shells and the like), but they were very pleasant!
The croquettes were delish, cheesy, gooey, naughty - very British indeed.
Our mussels from Spring bay - one of Australia best mussel regions where the water is pure and packed full of Mussel nutrients hence the healthiest, plumpest mussels you’ve ever seen - they were outstanding in a classical veloute sauce, flecked with bacon, and juicy leeks.
I ordered an excellent class of French cider, as there were sadly no Brit pack ciders on the menu. The French know their cider too, it was really special like a glass of champagne, very elegant, perfectly sweet and sour, a knockout with the creamy mussel sauce!
The pinot was terrific too at $55 a great example of the outstanding quality our local Mornington Pinot offers!
We had a nice break between courses, the dining room was calm and corporate, the surrounding tables are well cared for and very content.
We observed steak seemingly being the go, as we watched many overflowing boards of carved meats leave the open plan kitchen before our impressive assembly of towering Yorkshire pudding, perfectly carved rib eye under a confetti of fresh horseradish and baby tarragon arrived.
I felt like a judge on great British menu with my head full of U.K expletives and culinary capers in the U.K. and recent sporting conquests. Which got me thinking about the cricket and forthcoming Ashes tour, as my wife is Australian and loves the cricket too!
For some Yorkshire puddings are the anchor of British food, these were good and proper, but I was thankful it wasn’t a typical warm Melbourne spring night, maybe it is a cunning plan to lure the generous spending Barmy Army. The accompanying roast vegetables were nice but more domestic than gastronomic - much better, as the weather improves, could be a very English salad of baby beets or breakfast radish..it would go down a treat as the meat was truly outstanding, as were all the sauces béarnaise, red wine gravy - hot English - it was all tip top!
Puddings were enticing and the pick of the menu. Eskimo pie is not very British, I know, but a pie just the same, and my wife’s British grandpa's favourite. It was a very cool looking pie, a two tone London tribute of coffee, figs, and chocolate sauce poured at the table.
We were royally stuffed! A great dinner and memories of good times and old Blighty. Whether you’re celebrating the ashes or not, Papa Goose is one of the city's picks for modern British grub, great beef, and very naughty puddings.
There is also a bar cocktail/wine bar upstairs, called Mary Fortune, which would be great for a post dinner tipple. Papa Goose is also opening up for Christmas Day this year, $140 for adults and $60 for children under 12 years. Beverages on consumption.
What the Chef's says - Highest of quality, local seasonal ingredients using ‘slow food’ philosophy and contemporary techniques. Combining traditional British recipes with herbs and spices from exotic global places. Neale White.
What Wilson says - Corporate gastro pub / brassiere with great steak
When can we go - Mon: 5.30pm-10.30pm; Tue to Fri: Noon-3pm & 5.30pm-10.30pm; Sat: 5.30pm-10.30pm;