120-122 Lygon St
Brunswick, VIC 3057
This is a rather special blog post. Not only is that because I’m eating delicious New Orleans food, which I love but don’t get to have often, but it’s also my very last meal in Melbourne for a while! So without further ado, let’s get started!
The Moldy Fig is a New Orleans restaurant and bar that is distinctly Southern in its look and feel, its décor taking cues from the melange of cultural influences found in the American South. Here you’ll find French-styled plantation shutters in pretty pastels, lined up next to a gleaming wooden bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a Spanish wine bar. The food is equally as colourful, consisting of a wide range of classic Louisianan dishes, learnt by the chef from the homes she visited there.
New Orleans is certainly famous for its cocktails, so we kicked off our night with The Moldy Fig’s own take on The Hurricane – the Pomegranate Passionfruit Hurricane ($20), served tall with plenty of ice, its juicy tropical flavours ideal for the Australian summer heat.
You could argue that the Southern Fried Shrimp Po’Boy ($16.9) is one of the most iconic foods to come out of New Orleans. The crusty white bun was stuffed with crispy prawns fried in buttermilk batter, crunchy slaw, sliced tomato, and drizzled with a rich garlic remoulade. It is comfort food through and through.
A meatier alternative was the Pulled Pork Po’Boy ($14.9), which swapped the seafood for a hefty dose of decadent, slow-cooked pork, its juices soaking into the fluffy bread.
And of course, what’s more southern than Cornbread ($8, 3pcs)? The original and chilli flavours were all well and good, but it was the garlic version that made the vampires cry, and made me swoon. The aroma of garlic over the fragrant cornbread was so addictive, especially when you break it in half, and melt some butter over the warm, fluffy middle.
I was surprised by just how good the Turkey Meatballs ($21) were. The meatballs themselves were already excellent, the turkey coarsely ground and gently folded with spices. It was however taken to the next level with a smoky wrapping of pancetta, and fruity, cranberry-infused cabbage that brought everything together. The Moldy Fig has taken a very run-of-the-mill dish, and made it something very special indeed.
Po’boys may be well-known, but it’s the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo ($20) that’s the official dish of Louisiana. Slow-cooked over hours, the flavours of this stew have had time to mature into something deep, smoky, and undeniably comforting. Mix it with the island of rice in the middle, and the result is a hug in a bowl.
To counteract all that richness, we were served an interesting little salad that appeared to be off-menu. Think typical garden salad, except instead of tomatoes, the lettuce and cucumber is topped with summer-fresh strawberries, and a citrusy bloody mary dressing. It may sound odd, but trust me, it works.
Significantly less healthy (but still vegetables!) was the Southern Vegetable Bites ($16). I was flagging by this point, but I had enough left in me to enjoy the soft morsels of cauliflower and broccoli, encased in crispy buttermilk batter with oozing centres of cheese.
Paella is one of my most favourite things to eat, so I perked up again at the special of Chicken and Prawn Jambalaya ($25). The rice was fluffy and completely infused with the flavour of tomato and spices, and it’s served with generous chunks of chicken and fresh prawns. I liked it so much that I got what we couldn’t eat (aka most of it) packed up in a take-away box for the next day.
With the last of my remaining stomach room, I managed to fit in a couple of the Ribs of the Day ($27.5). Today they were lamb, the fatty, succulent meat complimented by a sweet bourbon glaze, and a slight char from the grill.
After swapping in my dessert stomach, I dug into the Pumpkin Pie ($15). I actually liked that the pastry on this wasn’t too buttery; instead, the light, flaky layers melted in the mouth with the smooth centre of spiced pumpkin, accompanied with a cooling scoop of ice cream.
And finally, Sticky Date Pudding ($12). Once again, I was glad that this wasn’t too heavy. The pudding itself was light and airy, the accompanying rum caramel sauce decadent but not too sweet. My only gripe is that the sauce was a smidge too savoury, and the overall flavour profile was a little odd as a result.
Being in a city that’s already skint on traditional New Orleans cuisine, The Moldy Fig is certainly one of a kind. Whereas most other places focus on a couple of specialty dishes, or a more casual dining experience, The Moldy Fig is the whole package, and does a good job of it to boot. If you’re curious about Cajun cuisine, get yourself down to The Moldy Fig and try out all those dishes you’ve always heard about (Jambalaya! Po’boys! Gumbo!), but have never gotten a chance to try!