213 Franklin St
Melbourne, VIC 3004
Patsy’s is all about vegetarian food done well. There are no sprouted/activated/detox bogus health claims in sight, nor do you get the Heston-like trickery of turning microgreens into what you swear is a bona fide steak. It’s literally just farm-fresh vegetables (they grow a lot of their own) cooked to show off their fullest potential, often accompanied by a generous amount of cheese or quality olive oil. All this is served alongside an ample (and largely vegetarian) drinks list, which the competent staff guide breezily through whilst making menu recommendations. Admittedly, the meal does come out quite a bit pricier than you’d expect for a meat-free wine bar, but given their focus on local and sustainable produce, even the surcharge comes with a side of feel-good, if the vegetables haven’t done the trick already.
Rating: 14/20 – vegetables you wish you could make.
Must-order: socca, baked semolina gnocchi.
Give this a miss: dessert.
Good to know: half-price cocktails between 5-6pm every day!
You might want to go a la carte if you have a bigger crowd so you can try more things, but the 3 Course Banquet ($75pp) works fantastically when dining in a pair. They even let you decide whether you want all savoury, or a dessert each. Starting off the entrees is the buttery Potato and Scormoza Cheese Tortellini ($25), filled with a silky, smoky potato and cheese puree, and topped with golden breadcrumbs.
I do occasionally make my own chickpea pancakes at home, but those are stodgy, enormous things that I top with enough ingredients to lay you out for the rest of the evening. It’s nothing like the elegant Socca ($20) served here, the just-set batter delicate like egg whites, with just the faintest hint of crunch at the edges. The lightly savoury flavour is enhanced by sweet garlic scapes, as well as a squeeze of orange that carries so much more character than your usual lemon.
The Baked Semolina Gnocchi all Romana ($32) aren’t your usual bite-sized pieces of dough, Instead, we’re talking rustic discs of cornmeal, mixed through with so much cheese, and pan-fried until golden. Simply served with broccoli and pine nuts, this is elegant yet familiar.
The Spiced Grains & Almond Stuffed Chard Leaves ($35) is a hefty and satisfying main, the plump rolls served atop a truly delicious fra diavolo sauce. It’s comfort food without the guilt, not that food guilt should ever be a thing.
To go with the mains was a beautiful salad of Roasted Beetroot ($25), its intense earthy sweetness sprouting from a grassy base of rocket pesto, highlighted with dollops of creamy curd.
I love a good Crème Brûlée ($18), and this one is… decent but not amazing. The custard is creamy and light, but there is definitely a bit of grittiness to it, and the flavour is a bit too one-dimensional for me to want to finish the entire generous serve.
Unfortunately the same could be said about the Genoan Black Fig & Almond Frangipane Tart ($22), which aside from the fresh fruit, was mostly just sweet and a little bit dense. The honey ice cream was quite nice though.
I was rather impressed by the vermouth list at Patsy’s, and after conferring with the knowledgeable staff, went with the Cinq a Sept Pinot Noir Vermouth ($11) – a sweet, fruity blend that tastes like sangria for the cooler months. They also have a decent selection of non-alcoholics mocktails, as well as the classics, including a well-made Lemon, Lime, and Bitters ($8) that’s full of bright citrusy flavours.