i’m south-african born, and as such make no apologies for the fact that a/ i will never be a vegetarian and 2/ meat will always be the biggest serving on my dinner plate. and i just found the place for fellow meat-lovers in melbourne’s eastern suburbs! the new town square redevelopment at eastland shopping centre opened last week and not only is it stunning, but it is also full of some of my favourite eats: jimmy grants, huxtaburger + pacos tacos. however, on opening night last week it was hunter + barrel that had my full attention.
brainchild of the seagrass boutique hospitality group… the same crew that brought us meat & wine co, and ribs & burgers… hunter + barrel at eastland is their first venture into this restaurant concept. aka… these guys know their meat!
the hunter represents quality meats + world-class produce, showcased by dishes such as slow roasted beef rib and a melt-in-your-mouth pork belly cooked over the restaurants signature coal grill. whereas the barrel represents the drink menu which combines contemporary bar techniques with age-old standards to offer up aged cocktails, fat-washed spirits, refreshing craft beers and boutique wines.
for starters, we had sourdough bread with cultured butter and spicy fried corn with green chilli salt, paired with the chieftain: a rosemary and prosciutto infused belvedere vodka and midori mixed with fresh watermelon
we then moved onto chicken wings with hot + sweet sauce and chilli garlic prawns with butter and lemon, paired with a sparrow + vine organic chardonnay
from the coals we had: coal roasted chicken with lemon + rosemary; crispy roasted pork belly with chilli sauce; sausage plate with cheese kransky + spiced wagyu sausage and the slow roasted beef rib with grilled onion chutney, paired with a sparrow + vine organic sangiovese
sides included a radicchio salad with crispy onions, parmesan + balsamic, potato + watercress salad with black pepper mayo, grilled cauliflower with garlic sauce + roasted almonds and cast iron button mushrooms with garlic butter.
dessert included a delicious chocolate + marshmallow roast with biscuits (s’mores) and golden syrup dumplings with fresh pouring cream, paired with a solera negroni – barrel-aged negroni mixed with fresh negroni, settlers gin, sweet vermouth + campari.
we were spoilt to sample some of the best that the menu has to offer… every course was delicious! the charcoal flavour of the meats were mouth-watering; and the desserts were unique + scrumptious. and i seem to have found my new favourite drink – negroni.
the whole experience of the evening was exceptional – a mix of artisanal food, relaxed atmosphere and the foundations of a premium restaurant. it’s a combination which appears to fit well with eastland’s goal to give the eastern-melbourne community access to culinary maestro’s that reflect melbourne’s epicurean spirit and passion for food.