I had been stuffing my face with scrumptious gluten free cakes at the Clandestine Cake Club all afternoon. Despite my gluttony I wasn’t feeling overly full and seeing as the Boy had actually gone to the effort to book us a dinner reservation at The Precinct in Victoria Park so I couldn’t exactly refuse. Being the obsessed foodie of the house, I am generally the one who arranges our regular eating expeditions and so I get very excited when the Boy does it all for me. I was hoping I could extend my afternoon with the bestie and drag her along too especially as she hadn’t hung out with the both of us in some time. However my powers of persuasion were seemingly dulled by all my cake indulgence because she declined my pleading to return home to study for her yoga teacher training class the following day.
The preceding week had been a fairly traumatic one for us both due to some distressing major family issues all finally coming to a head. To add insult to injury, we were both under the weather with the winter sniffles and as if things couldn’t get any worse I had accidentally reversed into the Boy’s car in the pitch black of the early morning. Eeeek! So I’m sure you can understand why we just wanted to put all our cares aside and do what we both enjoy most….dining out together.
The Precinct in Vic Park was opened earlier this year by Daniel Morris who is well-known for also running the highly successful Little Creatures, Balthazar and Il Lido. It was to be our first proper wine bar here in Vic Park; something many of us locals feel has been a long time coming. But despite public support they were knocked back twice for their Small Bar license and operated as a BYO wine bar for several months. Finally they have managed to secure a restaurant license and have ensured that all their staff know their wines exceedingly well. We have revisited a number of times since they have opened and I have confidence that they can always recommend a suitable choice for us both.
Initially I found that their gluten free, onion free options were quite limited for me but since then I have noticed that this has improved somewhat upon subsequent visits. The food style is quite casual and simple but seemingly executed fairly well. In usual style we started off with a couple of share dishes before our mains. The marinated olives contained a mix of black and green olives with a variety of types and intensity of flavours.
As the Boy wasn’t nearly as full of cake as I, he also ordered the whitebait (not gluten free). They were very crispy, perhaps a little too much so and came served with a beer aioli.
The Precinct’s charcuterie plate changes regularly and although we order it nearly every time we visit we have never had the same plate twice. This night we had some fresh sliced Angus beef salami, some orange chicken pâté and a pair of pork rillettes. Some cornichons and mustard were served on the side. The salami was delicate and soft with a slight salty aftertaste. Hints of citrus undertones came through beautifully in the pâté although I wish they had some gluten free bread for me to smear it onto. The pork rillettes held great shape and texture and were mildly flavoured.
Although the Boy and I love eating and discovering new foods, prior to my blogging days if we were out at one of our regular haunts, we would often both fall back on ordering our tried and tested favourites. These days I feel so guilty when doing this. I believe in order for me to accurately make an assessment for a review of a restaurant I need to sample as many of their dishes as possible. This gives me a much wider and more realistic perception of their food. This ideal has fallen out the window during our past three visits to The Precinct ever since I tried their roast chicken. It’s really really good!
To be quite honest, I’m not even one to order chicken in the first place. I figure why order something I can cook just as easily (and as well) at home? Thank goodness I forgot about this theory and tried this dish. The chicken is slow cooked (sous-vide) and so be aware it is normal for such chicken to appear slightly pink on the inside. The consistency of this chicken is like no roast chicken you have had before. The breast nearly melts under my knife and is as juicy as you would expect a thigh to be. The leg meat slips of the bone effortlessly. You can taste lemon thyme though every mouthful. It is served simply with some seasonal vegetables on the side.
The boy ordered the lamb duo which consisted of some slow cooked pulled lamb topped with a lamb cutlet. The cutlet was very meaty and although quite chargrilled on the surface was cooked beautifully inside. Walnut spaetzle is a type of Northern European style noodle made with flour and eggs, and in this case also walnuts. They almost looked like little dumplings and tasted fairly bland on their own without any of the lamb or sauce (so the Boy informed me).
The Boy kept proclaiming (again) that he didn’t want dessert! I think this past month of incessant eating has dulled his sweet tooth somewhat. Refusing to be completely defeated I ordered us the citrus chocolate salad. I don’t recommend this dish if you genuinely want a dessert as it is very light and refreshing. However seeing as I had indulged all afternoon on all the cakes, it filled my last spot in my stomach perfectly. For something more substantial I recommend their banana pie. This gluten free decadence is nothing like you expect and is more like a mousse than any pie I’ve ever had.
During the course of this evening, the Boy and I pondered over Chompchomp’s growth and development since I commenced blogging some 11 months ago. It has been such an exciting and rewarding journey so far as I continue to try and further improve both my writing style and my photography. Better still it is satisfying to watch my readership grow week by week knowing that others are (hopefully) enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it. The Boy started to consider whether he too may gain such rewards from writing his own blog and decided if he ever did, it would be about beer; a long standing passion of his.
Thus after a number of drinks, together we created the game “Chompchomp roulette”. This is where the Boy hands the beer menu over to me and I choose a random beer for him to enjoy. Relinquishing this control over his beverage choice is huge…..he is a fussy connoisseur with his beers. To make matters more interesting my knowledge of beers is very poor due to my inability to drink it. For our first play on the “wheel” I chose Delirium Nocturnum; a triple fermented Belgian ale known for its high alcohol content.
Suffice to say after finishing our drinks, his attitude on dessert came around full circle and he insisted on stopping in at Baskin and Robbins for a tub of dairy deliciousness. He defaulted to his usual favourites of cookies and cream with peppermint choc chip.
Every night that we have visited The Precinct we have always found all the staff to be energetic, friendly and very well acquainted with both their wine list and their food. On earlier visits we did find the staff lacking a bit of team work with drinks being forgotten and multiple staff coming to us to asked the same questions however, like the number of gluten free options, this is definitely improving. I figure it is better to have overattentive wait staff than ones that ignore their customers. I am keen to return for breakfast as they have slow cooked eggs on the menu but it currently looks like I’ll need to BYO gluten free bread. That I do not mind! I am so happy this is my new local!