Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest at the Arbory
As we creep into Autumn and cooler months that nip at our toes, the remaining balmy evenings are limited, and really ought to be spent at Melbourne’s longest bar (150 metres of open deck), that’s not only convenient (right next to the station convenient…literally), but with a view to boot.
The Arbory opened not too long ago now, nuzzled in right next to Platform 11 at Flinders Street Station. Many yeas in the making, one might not usually expect such a cool and well thought out bar next to the station, but the guys at the HQ Group have managed to make it work well.
But more than a bar, the Arbory is open from 7:30am in the morning for those early breakfast meetings, and have recruited Executive Chef Nick Bennett (Trocadero, Cecconi’s) and chef Michael Fox (2012 Young Chef of the Year) to ensure that seriously good food is on offer all day.
At a menu sampling on a gorgeous Tuesday evening, we munched on simply stunning mushroom and cheese croquettes, with rich earthy flavours that melted into the mouth, and flavoursome pea and herb arancini, with just enough cheese to be so moreish, that packed a punch
The wine menu is filled with interesting and intriguing wines, with a ‘classic’ selection on one side and the other with more adventurous, unusual finds. On this particular night we were treated to a smily stunning range of Italian wines, with the importer Xavier joining us at the table and providing a good belly laugh of conversation all night.
Buffalo mozzarella with fried artichoke, green sauce (whatever that is, it’s delicious), raisins and almonds is a surprisingly grounded entree, with lots of earthy flavours, with light sweet notes from the raisins. I loved seeing mozzarella on a bar menu with something other than basil and tomato (although I love that combination too)!
Possibly my favourite thing to eat all night though, was the steak tartare with cheese, toast and bernaise sauce liberally poured over. Oh goodness. A slightly modern take on an old classic, the steak was tender, and the bernaise just melted into it, providing a deliciously creamy texture, with a bit of cheesy toast for a crunchy contrast. I’ll have to say it’s one of the best things I’ve put in my mouth all year thus far…!
One thing to watch out for at the Arbory, is that as night creeps in on your after work drinks, is that it does get a bit chilly, so in true Melbourne style, layers are highly recommended!
We shared a couple of mains, the roast onion, silver beet and cauliflower pie with leek salad and truffle pecorino went down a treat; lovely flaky pastry and surprisingly meaty pie for being all vegetables!
But the star was definitely the gorgeous red and tender peppered steak with kohlrabi remoulade and those onion rings. Those onion rings. Just enough batter to cover the onion and be lovely and crunchy, but not doughy, and not just a slither ribbon of onion throughout, but a serious chunky onion ring.
To wrap up, although the popcorn and salted caramel sundae didn’t look overly impressive, it packed a punch of flavour and my only complaint was that it was much too small…so I started hunting the table for who hadn’t eaten theirs!
I also rocked up for the launch party at the Arbory for the launch party, and the Arbory throws one hell of a good party, showcasing some delicious charcuterie we didn’t try on the menu tasting night, as well as a sampling of sliders and burgers (which were a little hit and miss for me).
It’s interesting how diverse and multi-purpose the Arbory space is, perfect for an easy to access pre-work spot, after work drinks, dinner, or a date that you’re not 100% sure of so need an easy escape route from. At least you’ll get a good feed before you run off!
Flinders Walk (River side of Flinders St Station)