SlowDown!@Harley Court in St Kilda has a menu and wine list featuring produce and wine sourced from within a 200km radius of Melbourne, maximum. This isn’t a new idea here; Paul Mathis tried it with his 100 Mile Cafe that closed down a couple of years ago. Now David Carruthers, owner of Dog’s Bar in St Kilda, has bought the space next door to the Dog’s and has turned it into a restaurant that is striking chords with locals.
The freshness of the products used combined with the technique and skill of chef Ron O’Bryan (former head chef at Church St Enoteca) is seeing SlowDown!@Harley Court’s diners offered an intensity of flavour in their dishes, balanced with crisp, vibrant texture and good depth. O’Bryan develops the menu around what’s in season and what’s available and uses organic and biodynamic produce wherever possible as well as only ethically raised meats. Some ingredients may be brought in from further afield – they don’t scrimp on quality – but overall it’s a very local, regional experience.
You may find a Jerusalem artichoke soup with artichoke chips, the earthy vegetable pureed, seasoned and served in a glass with crisp savory chips to add texture. Salads of organic beetroot, witlof and chickpeas or artichoke, fennel and almonds are a jumble of crunch and complexity. The menu is well-structured in that there are ‘larger’ dishes, such as the house-made gnochetti with wild slippery jacks and nettles, but if there’s a few of you go to ‘dishes for 2’, which may feature the Meredith lamb stifado with soft polenta, an intense, sticky dish of gelatinous meat and deep rich reduction that sits well against hand-picked green beans with Yarra Valley Persian feta.
The room, while dimly lit, is finished with simple woods and the odd banquette and the walls are dressed with photos of the producers from whom much of SlowDown!@Harley Court’s produce is bought. The wine list maintains the ethos and is smart, well-priced and naturally matches the food.
Did I mention they make their own butter in-house from organic cream? Travel a few kilometres to SlowDown! @Harley Court
SlowDown! @Harley Court
56 Acland Street, St Kilda
(03) 8534 3030