Like any good Melbournian, I am an avid reader of the Age's Epicure, and will sometimes even visit the lovely looking restaurants that grace the hallowed pages, particularly if they are on my side of the river.
I was recently in dire need of treating my significant other to a fancy meal. Based on our mutual love of vino and the Epicure's recommendation, I decided to give St Jude's Wine Cellar a test drive.
St Jude's has been around since March 2008, and isn't really the new kid on the block anymore. There are many reviews out there, some good and some not so good. What really caught my attention was the concept of mixed business, bar/cellar/restaurant and the industrial looking warehouse fit out had also caught my eye when walking past some time ago. I managed to score a 7.30 reservation on a saturday night. It was on.
Despite being seated a little close to the door, my first impression of the space was wow. Firstly, its huge. The dim lighting contrasts magnificently with the cool polished concreate floors, and caged wine racks which house the cellar componant of the venue. I was errily reminded of the Japanese restaurant Industria, which Patrick Bateman visits with his girlfriend and her hipster friends in American Psycho.
I found the service to be friendly and professional. We were guided through the wine list, and took the recommendation of the St Jude's Pinot Noir. Regarding wine, you can either chose from the menu, or brouse the cellar and add $15 corckage. Brousing the cellar was quite fun and found the Somilier to be very knowledgeable and helpful. I didn't feel like I was being sold something that was out of my price range or not sure about.
The menu offers five enrte's, four mains and a range of sides, speicals and deserts. There was also a good balance of vegetain options. I opted for the Butternut pumpkin raviolo with sage butter, almonds and mustard fruit. My guest chose the duck breast with red wine jus. We also had a side of braised red cabbage and marmalaide.
Both meals were perfect winter selections. Hitting the right balance of richness and winter warmth. Considering that we had both picked reasonably safe main options, the braised cabbage offered a little quirky twist to the meal. Although, it was a ridiculously large serve. Very few people need to eat that much cabbage in one sitting.
With mains from $32+ and wines starting in the same region, there is the potential to rack up quite a tab. It might not be suitable for a casual mid-week meal, considering that we went out with seeking a little romance and something with a few frills on the side, St Jude's was a good choice. I felt well looked after, and was willing to pay the not so small cheque.
I would recommend St Judes and offer 16/20 on this occasion.