Southgate Movable Feast 2014

If you’re anything like me, meals definitely do not need to be constrained to just one location – why settle for an unexciting dessert after an excellent dinner when you can go somewhere else and get precisely what you’re craving? Southgate Moveable Feasts take that same idea, but stretch it just a little bit further – literally. It spreads out your entrée, main and dessert over three separate venues all within the Southgate complex. Unable to resist the opportunity, Chris and I joined a group of similarly eager food-lovers one Sunday to see what Southgate has to offer.
Upper level, Southgate Complex
3 Southgate Ave, Southbank, VIC 3006
Our first stop was Artusi, a newly opened Italian restaurant right at the Hamer Hall end of Southgate. The interior was bright and pretty with a modern look, as well as a view overlooking the Southgate walkway.
As we looked at the selection of entrees available for our feast, the owner came forward to speak to us about Artusi’s menu and to explain the entrees available. He explained how they aim to mix the old and the new by providing traditional flavours with a twist – which starts with making their bread and almost all of their pastas completely in-house. We were eager to see how this would translate to our entrees.
Along with our menus had come a glass of wine each, so we chose one each of the red and white wines available for us to try. The red was fruity, spicy and juicy, and although the white smelt musty and warm, it was actually sweet on the body with a bright, crisp finish.
House-made Sundried Tomato and Basil Bread
Upon ordering, we were served some of their House-made Sundried Tomato and Basil Bread. It’s no secret that I love my bread, and this bread was delightful – the exterior was as crunchy as a good potato chip, whilst the middle remained fluffy and light. When they came back to offer us more, there was no way we could refuse, despite wanting to pace ourselves for the meal.

Pancia di Maiale al Vincotto
Not long after, our entrees arrived, and the first I tried was the Pancia di Maiale al Vincotto, aka Berkshire pork belly. I was unsure what to expect from pork belly at an Italian restaurant, but this turned out to be very crisp and indulgent – even rivalling the pork bellies of Asian restaurants with its unabashed fattiness. The pomelo and endive salad on top was a loving contrast of the fresh and the bitter, making this dish a great start to our feast.

Lingua di Bu
The other entrée we ordered was the Lingua di Bu – ox tongue slow-cooked for 16 hours and served with quail eggs and salsa verde. Unfortunately, this didn’t live up to the standard set by the pork belly – the ox tongue was quite bland and rather oily combined with the salsa verde. A sprinkling of salt helped to pep up the flavour, and the quail eggs were a welcome creamy treat, but the dish was still a bit disappointing overall, especially following in the wake of the pork belly.

Artusi on Urbanspoon

Mid Level, Southgate Complex
3 Southgate Ave, Southbank, VIC 3006
We sat chatting for a short while after finishing our entrees, but soon our host had returned, ringing a bell to signify it was time to move on. A short walk later, we arrived at Amarok, a restaurant and bar with a North American and Inuit theme, reflected in its mock ski-lodge interior, its menu, and the fact that it’s damned cold inside. This is attributed to the ice bar located just next to the dining area, and although I’m sure it’d be a nice place to go in summer, I’d be lying if I said I appreciated the low temperatures on a rainy winter’s day.

Stout, Pine Needle, and Acorn Roasted Chicken Breast
After a long wait, our mains arrived, the first of which was the Stout, Pine Needle, and Acorn Roasted Chicken Breast. The appealingly large chicken fillets were rather dry, but this was offset by the sweet and malty jus spread over the plate, which added a nice dash of flavour as well as moisture to the dish. The winner here, however, was the potato bake with blue cheese that the chicken was served upon – the blue cheese making the humble potato bake into something more unique and even more addictive.

Pouched Baked Salmon
Pouched Baked Salmon
Our second main was the Pouched Baked Salmon, cooked in a foil bag with a side of salad. To be honest, the salmon tasted rather pedestrian, and there was nothing more to it than met the eye. It was also slightly overcooked and under-seasoned. Meanwhile, the salad was quite a refreshing mix of greens with quinoa in a light mustard dressing, with an added burst of sweetness from the grapes. It may not have been amazing, but it is also the first salad I’ve had that Chris also enjoyed, so that’s a plus.

Amarok Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Upper Level Southgate Complex
3 Southgate Ave, Southbank, VIC 3006
After a quick tour of the (literally) freezing-cold ice bar, our host was along yet again to escort us to the considerably warmer Bluetrain. Bluetrain is more of your traditional restaurant and café, with a focus on modern Australian cafe-styled food, but of course we were limited to their dessert menu for the afternoon.
Flat White/Hot Chocolate
We kicked off dessert with a Flat White and a Hot Chocolate. I’m afraid to say I can’t speak well of either of these; the coffee was awful and had no flavour beyond a limp bitterness, while the hot chocolate similarly tasted like hot milk with a shadow of chocolate-y taste.
 Duo of Creme Brûlée
Our desserts fared better: I was first to try The Duo of Creme Brûlée, a pairing of chai tea and New York cheesecake styled brûlées. The chai was rich and spicy, while the New York cheesecake had a lighter taste that allowed the cheese flavour to show itself after a moment or two of tasting. Both were nice and creamy with a crisp toffee shell.
Childhood Memories
The Childhood Memories presented itself similarly to a deconstructed snickers bar, incorporating all sorts of delectable treats from your (the chef’s, as he later admitted during a quick chat) childhood onto one plate. The fairy floss was a particularly welcome element to the dish, and although I’d not thought of Milo ice-cream before, it was a definite hit for my tastebuds. And whilst I wouldn’t call the mix of chocolate cake and peanut brittle very imaginative, it’s very hard to complain about a dessert that hits the spot with such simple elements.

Bluetrain on Urbanspoon

On that note, our Moveable Feast had come to an end. We left quite comfortably full, though thankfully not stuffed due to the drawn-out nature of the meals. We enjoyed the experience, but it’s a slight shame that I actually enjoyed each successive venue slightly less than the last – it’s not to say that the later venues were bad, but I definitely found Artusi to be the highlight of the meal. The event also seemed slightly disorganised, our host arriving late and some small mix-ups at the venues. Hopefully they can iron these wrinkles out as they run future events, but regardless it was an enjoyable afternoon, perfect for a slightly different date.
Rating: you tell me!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Southgate Movable Feasts, Artusi, Amarok, and Bluetrain.
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