With its industrial-chic interior design inspired by the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street, QT Melbourne’s signature restaurant, Pascale Bar and Grill feels almost tailor made for Melbourne foodies who love a fashionable and luxurious fine-dining experience. Everything in the dimly-lit restaurant; from the stuffed peacock, the grand staircase adorned with a plush sapphire-blue carpet, right down to the comfortable brown leather chairs surrounding dark unclothed tables, oozes sophistication and class. However, due to the upbeat hip-hop and R&B bumping in the background, the restaurant manages to strike a unique atmospheric balance between lush and hipster-friendly.
Designed by QT Melbourne’s Executive Chef Paul Easson (Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne), in collaboration with QT Hotel’s Creative Food Director Robert Marchetti, the Pascale Bar and Grill menu features a wide range of French-infused and European bistro inspired dishes. Boasting high quality ingredients such as Sommerlad chicken, live and shucked-to-order oysters, Robbins Island Wagyu Rib Eye, and seasonal greens freshly picked from the hotel’s rooftop garden; the menu reads exceptionally well.
The highlight of the night on my visit was the Pan Fried Crab Cakes ($25) with celery hearts, pancetta, lemon balm, cayenne pepper, and black sesame, served atop a bed of avocado and lime mousse. Whenever ordering any sort of fried seafood, I can’t help but worry whether it will be too greasy or too dry. However, the kitchen’s pan-fried crab cakes were light, fluffy and perfectly moist, without the unwanted grease. The acidity of the lime and celery hearts seamlessly cut through the creamy texture of the avocado, while also giving a refreshing balance to the fried crab cakes. The mild heat of the cayenne pepper used to spice the crab cakes, gently announces itself at the very end, lightly tickling your tastebuds for more, making the dish a perfectly refreshing and light starter.
For main course, guests can choose between a variety of dishes divided into five different categories; “Handheld”, poultry, “My Favourites”, wood fired meat, or seafood classics. Seeing as it is summer, I went with the seafood classics section, and ordered the Pretzel Crumbed King George White Whiting ($38) served on a bed of warm beans and potatoes, finely diced, and stirred into whipped tartare. Upon arrival, the dish did not look as aesthetically pleasing as my guest’s order of the Rib Eye Beef ($44) made from QT exclusive, grain and grass fed Black Angus, and served alongside a small dish of Béarnaise sauce. And taste-wise, the whiting was no shining star either. The pretzel crumbs were crispy golden and well-seasoned, while the fish was perfectly tender. However, the creamy texture of the warm beans and potatoes stirred into the whipped tartare, completely overshadowed the crispy texture of the pretzel crumbed fish. The Whiting wasn’t bad; it was just missing something. The Rib Eye on the other hand: perfectly tender and juicy, with a hint of smoky charcoal flavour, making it one of the wisest choices.
When it comes to side dishes, Pascale is very simple. Guests can choose from everyday familiars such as Shoestring French Fries ($7), and The Wok Greens ($10) cooked in lemon oil, or go for something a little more exciting, such as the Salt Baked “Cameron’s Farms” Sweet Potato ($8) served with pasture butter, sprinkled with Espelette chilli salt. The salt baked sweet potatoes made a stunning accompaniment to the rib eye beef, giving the hearty slice of tender meat, a lovely salty sweet flavour, with a small kick of chili. I highly recommend pairing the two dishes.
In contrast to the no-fuss classic dishes featured in their starters, mains, and sides section, Pascale Bar and Grill’s dessert menu is a little more exciting. The highlight of the final course of the meal was the Rustic Chocolate Stove ($16), consisting of a hazelnut chocolate cake “stove”, topped with miniature cooking pots made from dark chocolate and filled with small servings of berry sauce. The presentation of the dish is an adorable delight that’s reminiscent of a children’s kitchen play-set. The fluffy texture of the hazelnut chocolate cake strongly contrasted against the crunch of the glossy, tempered dark chocolate pieces, while the small servings of berry sauce added the perfect amount of sweetness to balance out the nutty and bitter flavours of the dish.
Pascale Bar and Grill
Address: 133 Russell St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Contact: (03) 8636 8808
Hours: Breakfast: 6:30 – 11am (Mon – Sun), Lunch: 12 – 2:30pm (Mon – Fri), Dinner: 6 – 11pm (Mon – Sun), Bar: 12pm – 12am (Mon – Sun)
Feature image supplied.