BEST OF BRI­TISH

Clas­sic pub grub and dishes that are a lit­tle left of cen­tre de­light at this South Mel­bourne pub with a well-known his­tory of qual­ity fare

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Eat Out - O’CON­NELL’S: RE­VIEWED BY DAN STOCK

O’CON­NELL’S is the grand­daddy of Mel­bourne’s gas­tro-pub scene.

Since the time this South Mel­bourne stal­wart first wel­comed a young Greg Malouf into its kitchen around 25 years ago, it’s been a food­first venue of renown where the pub busi­ness is at the front – par­mas, pots and footy tip­ping – and the (din­ner) party is out the back.

Young chef Aaron Star­ling (last seen at Carl­ton Wine Room) is the lat­est to jump onto O’con­nell’s pans, and is go­ing back to his Brit-fo­cused roots, with fare such as malt vine­gar chips, black pud­ding, ched­dar and chut­ney, and trea­cle pud­ding for dessert.

It’s the type of hearty food that’s beg­ging for a pint of Guin­ness, a roar­ing fire and nowhere to rush off to. And while there’s plea­sure in stick­ing with the tried and true – soft, creamy, cin­na­mon-rich black pud­ding topped with a fried egg is ex­cel­lent, like­wise beef and Guin­ness pie with but­tery mash and split peas – it’s also worth fol­low­ing him when he goes off-piste.

Slices of raw al­ba­core tuna are al­most creamy, served along­side pick­led grapes and a scat­ter­ing of crisp ice plant. A main dish of pork is like be­ing pulled into a bear hug by a pipelov­ing lum­ber­jack, so se­ri­ously smoky is the belly and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing crunchy cro­quette. A charred half of baby gem let­tuce dressed in sharp ap­ple vine­gar helps cut through the pork.

Skip that trea­cle pud­ding, though – it’s crumbly, dry and needs sauce. In­stead, pol­ish off that bot­tle from the list that’s mainly filled with bighit­ting Aussie names the old-school mon­eyed crowd is well fa­mil­iar with.

While some of the dishes are stronger on In­sta­gram than in real life, it’s none­the­less a solid of­fer­ing and the com­fort­able, car­peted din­ing room re­mains a fam­ily favourite.

SERVES 4

100g smoked pancetta, rind re­moved and chopped

1 tbs extra vir­gin olive oil

5 sage leaves, chopped

2 car­rots, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

2 cel­ery sticks, chopped

4 gar­lic cloves, chopped

400g can diced toma­toes

400g can cherry toma­toes

1L re­duced salt chicken stock

400g can can­nellini beans, rinsed and drained

400g can bor­lotti beans, rinsed and drained

100g di­tal­ini (or other small pasta)

½ bunch cavolo nero, stalks re­moved and chopped pars­ley and grated parme­san to serve Placeover siz­zle, minute.and Add gar­lic medi­umthe cook­the Add pancettaand sage­for the heat. cook3-4 and car­rot, min­ute­sand Once­for cook oil 3-4 onion,it forin min­utes­be­gin­sun­tila a saucep­ancel­ery fur­ther golden.to un­ti­land10 min­utes. chicken soft­ened, stock. then Sea­son­add the and toma­toescook for (250ml)Add the wa­ter. beans, Bring pas­tato a and sim­mer1 cup and cook for 6-8 min­utes un­til pasta is ten­der. Add the cavolo nero and cook for a fur­ther 2 min­utes. Sea­son to taste, top with pars­ley and parme­san, then serve with toasted cia­batta.

NU­TRI­TION • 24G PRO­TEIN • 3G SAT FAT • 47G CARB • 16G SUG­ARS • 1815MG SODIUM • 395 CAL (1650KJ)

SERVES 4

¼ cup (60ml) extra vir­gin olive oil

1kg bone­less lamb neck (or shoul­der), cut into 3cm pieces

2 car­rots, chopped

2 onions, chopped

3 gar­lic cloves, sliced

2 rose­mary sprigs, leaves chopped

1L chicken stock

¼ cup (60ml) sherry (or red wine) vine­gar

2 desiree pota­toes, peeled and thinly sliced on a man­do­line

25g un­salted but­ter, melted

¼ red cab­bage, thinly sliced

½ bunch mint, leaves picked

Mi­cro herbs to serve (op­tional) a large saucepan over medium heat. Add half the lamb, sea­son and cook for 4-5 min­utes un­til browned, then re­move from the pan. Re­peat with 1 tbs oil and re­main­ing lamb. Re­move from the pan. Add the car­rot and onion and cook for 3-4 min­utes, then add the gar­lic and rose­mary and cook for a fur­ther minute un­til fra­grant. Add the stock and 1 tbs vine­gar, then re­turn the lamb to the pan. Bring to a sim­mer, then re­duce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 min­utes. for a fur­ther 2-3 min­utes un­til thick­ened, then re­move from the heat. Di­vide the lamb mix­ture be­tween four oven­proof dishes. Top with potato, then for 30-40 min­utes un­til potato is golden. To make the salad, com­bine the red cab­bage, mint, re­main­ing 1 tbs oil and 2 tbs vine­gar. Top lamb hot­pots with mi­cro herbs and serve with salad.

NU­TRI­TION

• 57G PRO­TEIN • 15G SAT FAT • 20G CARB • 7G SUG­ARS • 1250MG SODIUM • 675 CAL (2825KJ)

From top: smoked pork with charred baby gem, the el­e­gant din­ing room, and al­ba­core tuna with pick­led grapes.

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