A nondescript – looking diner nestled in the heart of the financial district with opening hours which cater strictly to the office crowd, Primehouse Melbourne is a meat lover’s nirvana.
With a seemingly dizzyingly array of meal options – most starring my favourite thing in the world: meat – I’m salivating at the thought of tucking into the lavish spread. For this review, I call in some reinforcements: my two-man army of hungry boys (These Guys Eat A Lot).
A tasting plate of roast meats is served up featuring four of the greatest: Lamb, chicken, beef and the Primehouse Melbourne speciality, 16 hour roast pork with crackling.
The lamb instantly announces its presence by banging down the door of my palate and exploding onto my tastebuds, lightly misting the scene with saffron and rosewater nuances.
The texture and succulence of the meat makes it akin to a really top notch Indian curry, without the excess lubrication of too much gravy. The boys and I have discovered a favourite already in our first dish!
The roast chicken is far from your average BBQ chook, accompanied by a tangy yet sweet tomato-based sauce with decidedly Persian influences. It’s another winner in the innovative stakes and like all good chicken, is strangely addictive.
The grain fed roast beef is pretty standard as far as roast beef goes – a light smattering of spices rests on the exterior but is not obvious enough to be picked up in flavour.
This is the dish which will probably appeal most to those who prefer commercial, conservative Aussie flavours and just want to munch on a good old roast beef sandwich, without the bells and whistles.
We save the house speciality till last. The free range roast pork has been cooked for 16 hours until achingly tender and has been basted in a concoction of bay leaf, cinnamon and apple cider vinegar.
A very light, unobtrusive gravy adds acidity and sweetness, until all at once the saltiness of the crackling bursts through, creating a balance of flavour.
I’ve never really been a fan of the heart attack-inducing burger monstrosities that most boys seem to cherish, however I do love a well-constructed hamburger with ingredients that one normally wouldn’t think to go together.
I’ve always been picky about mixing meats (unless it’s chicken and bacon, or beef and bacon – actually make that ANYTHING and bacon) but a little voice whispers to try something out of my comfort zone. Actually, it was the boys berating me for being ‘weak’, but you get it.
Featuring a lamb pattie, Porterhouse steak, both cheddar and swiss cheese, spinach, herb mayonnaise, harissa yoghurt and BBQ sauce, the Primehouse House of Legends dish is everything your hamburger fantasies are made of. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing on the menu, but the ingredients are high quality enough to assuage the guilt.
The lamb and beef work surprisingly well together and is satisfyingly messy to eat – don’t even think about ordering this on a date.
This burger is to be enjoyed on a long, languid Friday lunch; sauce dripping down your wrists, half of the ingredients falling a-tumble on the plate to be scraped up with the hands at the end and slurped from the fingers. Ahhhh, this is life.
Though a simple dish, steak is one of the hardest dishes in the world to get right due to incorrect cut selection, marinade and method of cooking.
The Primehouse interpretation leaves me breathless. Juicy fat wraps unapologetically around one side of the meat, the fringes blackened by charcoal, imparting the elusive smokiness required for BBQ steak.
Such is the quality of the meat that the need for sauce is eliminated – I don’t want anything messing with the unadulterated purity of the flesh. When I taste the sauce later, I am pleased by the garlicy heaviness of it – certainly an option if you want some variation of flavour after a few bites.
Perhaps foolishly, we end our meal with the roast salmon.
Not expecting much after the heftiness of flavours just experienced, I’m floored by the delicate yet firm flavours permeating the flesh. Another simple dish executed flawlessly, the Primehouse Melbourne salmon is the feminine yin to the masculine, meaty yang dishes with their bold flavours.
In an innovative bid, a supremely punchy chilli yogurt accompanies the fish which would probably be better suited to a lamb dish, but is fun to eat on its own nonetheless.
The secret to the dearth of options available at Primehouse Melbourne is the clever use of four base meats and the clever use of various extensions to cater for each segment in the form of burgers, wraps, rolls and open plates.
Usually when restaurants try to provide too many options they lose themselves in the murky cloud of trying to please everyone, resulting in dishes that are unrefined in flavour. This is not the case with Primehouse, who has managed to nail pretty much every dish tasted with creative, passionate recipes.
I’m pleased to see the establishment has worked hard to create tastes and flavours which are complex and layered – rather than just using the usual jing bang meat marinade of garlic, lemon and chilli / spicy BBQ seasoning.
The service is heartfelt and sincere – even if it takes a while for the food to come out, one must remember that everything is cooked to order and isn’t fast food.
Primehouse Melbourne is located at The Court, 500 Bourke St, Melbourne. Find their menu here.