Delectable Dining

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By: Shona Narayanan

In every Issue of St Kilda Bites we are proud to feature a truly special restaurant that produces irresistible and unique food, one that St Kilda Bites would have no hesitation to recommend for a memorable dining experience. Mirka Continental Bistro on Fitzroy Street is our choice for this instalment of our ‘high end’ dining supplement.

Burrowed away behind large trees on Fitzroy Street lies one of Melbourne’s superior gourmet gems in the form of a truly continental bistro; Mirka at Tolarno Hotel. Helmed by head chef Brad Bouhalis, Mirka’s menu stays true to what they deem as ‘classically European’ under the watchful eye of renowned Melbourne restaurateur Guy Grossi, as the walls adorn the tasteful artwork of the restaurant’s namesake; Mirka Mora.

Plush red leather banquettes run the length of the restaurant, as the paintings on the wall truly give Mirka its commendable atmosphere. The staff is attentive and friendly without being overbearingly so, and there is an undeniable sense of how personable they are when you have their attention. The decision to put in large glass windows is appreciated as the light that floods the restaurant is alluring and charming without letting in the erratic elements that make up Melbourne’s weather. The cutlery is embossed boldly with the emblem of the Grossi family and everything is spotless – not a smudge or stain anywhere in sight.

For starters, we ordered the Atlantic Salmon ‘Tartare’ ($22) that came fenced with a wonderful potato tuile and had been seasoned with avocado and crème fraîche. The Tasmanian salmon was expertly diced into symmetrical cubes and married with avocado and crème fraîche that melt in your mouth in a buttery sensation. Lined beautifully with piped horseradish cream and capers and finally garnished with fresh frisee lettuce, the dish was without a doubt an appetiser not to be shared. Accompanied beautifully by a 2009 Chardonnay from Craiglee Sunbury in Victoria that carries flavours of melon and citrus, this was truly a delightful start to our meal.

Deciding the main course was undoubtedly one of the harder tasks of our day. With an extensive variety of dishes ranging from pasta to fish to meats, we were at odds with ourselves simply trying to decide. Finally settling on the lamb, which we were assured was a crowd favourite, we waited in anticipation for the dish to follow. Our lamb ($33) finally appeared on a bed of fregola, mint and sumac yoghurt, after having been slow cooked for 24 hours. The cut of meat derived from the shoulder of a lamb from Murraylands, South Australia, and was undoubtedly a thrilling experience for a lamb lover such as myself. After having been sousvide (vacuum packed in hot water) for 24 hours and then pan-fried, the final product was an extremely tender and tasty meat. Hints of rosemary, garlic and thyme burst through with each bite and the salad of fregola, mint and watercress was delightfully fresh.

As an apt ending to our delectable dining experience, the dessert we ordered was the Bomb la Mora ($18). An airy sponge cake base married together with luscious vanilla ice cream that is hollowed out only to play host to the most sinful melted Weiss chocolate from France, finally topped off with some admirable piping of Italian meringue that is then blowtorched and some wonderfully tart strawberries. The final product is truly a sight for sore eyes as your spoon cuts seamlessly through the dessert only to be met with warm chocolate oozing out onto your plate. The ice cream, meringue and sponge cake are a charming myriad of textures on your palate and the strawberries add a wonderful tang to the whole experience.

Mirka is a fabulous ode to the different cultures that seem to marry so well together in a city like Melbourne, or as Guy Grossi says: “it’s simple and welcoming style is a melting pot of culture and occasion”.

With Mirka’s classic dishes from different reaches of Europe, at a slightly higher price range, it is assuredly a great way to treat yourself.


Mirka Continental Bistro

Tolarno Hotel, 42 Fitzroy St, St Kilda

Open 7 days, 10am till late

For reservations phone: (03) 9525 3099

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