Travel through the city, up Little Collins and hit up Little Hunter, Melbs’ newest culinary addition.
Only opening last week, this restaurant is already buzzing and with a team including Gavin Baker (previously sous chef at Fat Duck..oooh), Pete Evans (MKR, activated almonds…other stuff) and Bistro Flor’s Matt Kennedy (woo!), noone should be surprised!
I rocked up there with fellow foodie bestie MK and we were ready for a feast. This hidden gem is a bit tricky to find from the street, so please don’t let this deter you.
The hospitable personalities that greet you at the door are just the start of the fantastic yet relaxed experience that Little Hunter offers. We were directed to the bar whilst the table was prepared and the people watching began. The crowd was a mixture of refined older folk, funky hipsters and everyone in between who had come to sample Melbs’ newest attraction.
We were soon seated in a funky little booth (perfect people watching space) and proceeded to order majority of the menu items. I’m no designer and my description probably sounds rather wanker-esque but I love the decor of this place. It manages to be romantic and sophisticated but modern at the same time. Although there was a stuffed rooster who seemed to be staring at me throughout the evening from across the room….hope he’s not looking at me next time.
After ordering we were bantering about our usual topics…shoes, food or looking at people’s shoes whilst they ate their food. To accompany this highly intellectual conversation, we were given pull-apart herb bread with chicken skin butter. Oh yeh I said it, chicken.skin.butter.
Herb Pull Apart with Chicken Skin Butter
Now I’m not usually a butter eater (no, not even with Vegemite & yes I know I’m weird), but this was awesome. Don’t go overboard, you only need a little bit of the already buttery bread, but yum. As MK said, we would love to have this ready for brekky every morning. Yes we are willing to accept we would turn into the size of a house in a matter of days. Gah I want some now.
Each staff member we encountered were so lovely and you could tell they were so excited to see reactions to the food and the restaurant in general. One waiter in particular seems very familiar to me and it was soon that I realised he had jumped ship from Chin Chin to join Gavin’s team. Yes super depressing that I recognise waiters.
The starters soon arrived and I was uber excited to tuck in. We decided on three (probably excessive, but hey, opening weekend, come on people!) First up we tried the Pork Crackling.
Pork Crackling, Paprika, White Cheddar & Apple Sauce.
Firstly, yes that is Pork Crackling and no I didn’t put the wrong picture up. In very technical terms, the texture was like a rice bubble, mixed with a Prawn Cracker with a cheesy aftertaste. Sounds odd, but was delicious! Hoping they will soon sell packets of these. Snack time ahoy! The apple sauce linked all the flavours really nicely and it wasn’t too sweet either which I enjoyed.
Cured Kingfish, Seasoned Roe, Roasted Peppers & Bay Oil
I love kingfish. Ok I heart food in general, but Kingfish is a personal fave. With such fresh roe and kingfish, this dish was one of the highlights for me. It was also such a stark contrast to the rest of the really meaty flavours we encountered. Been raving on about dill lately as well and that was a great addition. Could have eaten this by the bucket load. I don’t recall a strong peppers flavour in the mix but I didn’t mind that. They let the fish and the roe rule the plate. Nom nom nom.
With a great view of the pass, I was in foodie heaven and it was also so good to see Gavin Baker inspecting each dish as it was ready. Such care and precision is hard to come across when restaurants are so busy.
“Beef on Toast”, Chicken Liver Parfait & Dressed Chives
Leftover beef on toast will never be the same. With MK’s connections, she had already sampled this dish and had raved about it so I was really looking forward to it and it didn’t disappoint. Although I need to stress, if you order this, eat it when it arrives at the table! We left it until last and the ‘toast’ was a tad soggy underneath the beef and parfait. This dish is incredibly rich and think splitting it between two gives you the perfect amount.
The flavour was delicious and once again, the quality of the food really shone. Bravo cheferoo’s. Yes that’s another technical term. Not usually a huge fan of Chicken Liver Parfait, but with the beef and chives, you got just enough of the rich flavour and I was in food heaven… Feaven.
Think we definitely chose the right starters and next time I want to try the cabbage and blue cheese salad. 1. It was flying out of the kitchen. 2. It’s Blue.Cheese. Enough said.
The tables throughout the restaurant all looked to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and the noise level was great. Low enough to be able to hear your conversation but bubbly enough to create excitement. You could see everyone craning their necks to see what dishes were arriving at the next table, or the table on the other side of the restaurant.
People watching gossip was in full swing and mains soon arrived. This was definitely a tough decision but I’m sure I’ll be returning to try the other options! MK decided on the lamb and I went with the Filet Mignon.
Lamb Cooked with Olives – Crisped belly, parsley & orange
I admittedly had major food envy when MK’s dish was set in front of her. Amah-zing. It was also a huge portion which was super exciting for all involved. She really enjoyed the dish and although I didn’t try (regretting that now), it smelt like Christmas. (In an yay-wow-yum kind of way, not like Candy canes…just to clarify).
Filet Mignon – Coffee & Wood Smoke
Firstly, apologies for my rather awful photography. It was dim lighting and I did NOT want to be one of those people who interrupted everyone else with a camera flash every few minutes.
Once AGAIN, this dish showed off the incredible produce that Little Hunter has sourced. This was probably the best steak I’ve had in Melbourne. Although on the rare side of Medium rare, it was just how I like it and the knife just glided through it.
The coffee and wood smoke was what intrigued me about the dish and it was a very odd sensation to be honest, but one in which I really enjoyed. You would eat the meat and then experience a very aromatic coffee flavour in the aftertaste almost. So good. Gold star. The accompanying mushie also held its own next to the amazeballs meat, bravo Mushie.
Although they definitely weren’t needed, we ordered a few sides to accompany our feast and a half.
Little Hunter Fries with Fry Sauce
The fries were enjoyable but can’t say they were the best I’ve had. What was great was how they were chocked full of potato and had a very thin, crisp coating. Nothing worse than a fry with no spud. First world problem.
We also ordered some vegetables to keep the food pyramid happy, they were cooked and seasoned well and enjoyed them with the Filet Mignon. Speaking of seasoning, I was surprised to see no salt or pepper on the table. But after eating the food, it would have been criminal to add anything to it. Good call chefsters (another technical term).
Grits, Herb Butter & Salt
The final side we order was Grits, which had a very potent flavour with a truffle kick and was one I must admit wasn’t suited to my palette, but MK loved it so you’ll have to try it for yourself. Being a corn-based dish, I wasn’t surprised it wasn’t up my alley as I’ve never been a fan of other corny (ha) dishes such as polenta. (Bad experience thinking it was mashed potato)
Although we were ridiculously full, the second tummy came into play when ex Chin Chin-er showed us the dessert menu. We couldn’t decide on one each so decided to go for two and split them.
Fresh Yoghurt, Apple Pie Jam, Basil Granita & Nutmeg
Our first choice was the delicious pot set yoghurt. Usually not a style of dessert I’d choose, but so glad we did. It was delicious and MK would have had to pry it out of my hands if I hadn’t realised there was nutmeg on it and I am allergic. (Yes I know it’s written in the title….dessert goggle eyes)
The yoghurt was so creamy yet not sweet and the apple pie jam which sat beneath the yoghurt was perfect with it. The basil granita, well, I’m just glad I had this at the end of summer as I would have been eating it every day throughout the hot season. YUM. This is a must try in my books.
Frangipane – Meringue, Passionfruit curd & Peach Sorbet
Our next choice was the frangipane dessert creation and yet again, delicious is the only word I can think of without salivating too much! The flavours all worked really well together, the mango sorbet wasn’t too sweet which I liked and the passionfruit curd was just tart enough. Think I preferred the yoghurt dessert but this is definitely still a winner. I don’t really think it needed the meringue, but it did add that extra texture. Sorry that made me sound like a knob. Matt Preston eat your heart out.
We had been feasting for about 3 hours and although it was about 11.30 there were still a good group of patrons in the restaurant enjoying themselves. It might change as more people discover Little Hunter, but I loved the relaxed nature of the place and how no one was being rushed to leave.
We finished with some much needed Peppermint tea, thanked the staff and chefs for the fantastic night and went on our merry way. For a place that hasn’t even been open for a week, you would have thought they were a well oiled institution. No hesitations from the staff about the menu, everything seemed to work like clock work. Another attribute to Gavin and his team.
MK and I are already planning on returning with the crew. For both their company and the fact we will get to try SO many more dishes. With an ever changing menu, I look forward to developing a strong relationship with you Little Hunter!