389 Lonsdale St
Why can’t romantic lighting and good photos go hand in hand? Before my food blogging (or flogging, as K cheekily calls it) days, the dim moody lighting at Aspro Ble would have delighted me, and it still does, except now it comes with a side serve of ‘how the heck am I going to make these photos blog-presentable?’
Located right at the top end of the somewhat notorious and tourist-trappy Hardware Lane, Aspro Ble is the treasure at the end of the spruiker gauntlet. Decorated in understated yet lively blue and white, I was immediately put in mind of the Mediterranean, which is just as well, because this quaint little eatery serves some of the best Greek food I’ve ever had.
The open kitchen, which takes up almost half of the interior, lets us get a sneak peek (and smell) of the chefs working away at the stoves. We even got a surprise pyrotechnics show halfway through our meal as the flames from the stove shot high up, and out of the pan.
And as opposed to the over-used tea candles, each table had one of these adorable little lanterns on it. It was almost too easy to forget that we’re in the Melbourne CBD, and not the balmy Mediterranean summer.
|Slow Roasted Lamb with a Garlic Yoghurt Dressing ($22)|
When the Slow Roasted Lamb with a Garlic Yoghurt Dressing ($22) was presented to us, I just couldn’t get over how much meat there was! A prod with the fork revealed that the lamb was cooked to the point of falling apart. Gently flavoured with herbs, this dish was a perfect example of good produce speaking for itself. Wedges of lemon and the yoghurt dressing provided welcome relief from the heady richness of the unctuous lamb. There is also a small jug of tarragon and oregano infused gravy on the side, just in case your arteries aren’t complaining enough. According to the waiter, a whole leg of lamb was cooked in a wood-fire oven for 4-5 hours at low heat to provide the melt-in-your-mouth texture and depth of flavour.
|Pastitsio (marcaroni, prime beef, and bechamel pie, $14)|
‘It tastes like lasagne!’ exclaimed Chris as he dug into the Pastitsio (macaroni, prime beef, and béchamel pie, $14). Digging through the soft lid of béchamel and cheese, we came to a center of pasta and a sweet beef mince. We were told that this dish originated from the south of Greece, and is heavier on the herbs than its northern Greece counterpart. And indeed, it does taste like a lighter, sweeter, and more fragrant lasagne. Chris even went as far as to compare it to his mum’s lasagne, and I think that if a dish is comparable to mum’s cooking, then it must be very good indeed. The two slices of crispy-soft chargrilled bread served on top was a perfect scoop for the sweet mince, or even better, the leftover garlic dip from the lamb.
Before we were even half-way through our meal, I already wanted to come back. The whole menu looked so incredibly tantalising, suitable for both a long lunch, and a snack with a drink or two. The staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable, explaining each dish as it came out, and the space inside managed to be cosy yet airy at the same time. It was possibly the best all-round dining experience we’ve had since Hardware Societe.
Rating: 16.5/20 – Greek Gem
241 Flinders Ln Scott Aly
241 Flinders Ln Scott Aly
What, did you think we were done already?
Filled to the brim with excellent Greek food, we waddled off to Roule Galette for a sweet finish to the night and a small piece of Parisian romance.
|Salted Caramel and Butter Crepe ($6)|
Thin as ever, though perhaps not as crispy, the Salted Caramel and Butter Crepe ($6) was a light yet satisfying dessert. What I loved best was the slight bitterness of the home-made caramel sauce; give me this over the sticky sugary goo inside mars bars any day!
Rating: 13/20 – Parisian Romance