Thursday, 20 January 2011

St Kilda's Newmarket ditches the schnitz and tits and goes SoCal

Newmarket Hotel
34 Inkerman Street, St Kilda (map)
9534 2385

It wasn't so long ago that the Newmarket Hotel was a dive pub specialising in Schnitz and Tits and Spag and Drag nights. Times have changed! It has been taken over, resurrected and revamped by the Middle Park Hotel/Albert Park Hotel mob, with Paul Wilson creating its Californian-inspired Hispanic grill menu.

Newmarket facade

The second you step behind that red brick facade, the design of the place practically screams Six Degrees. The outside seating areas look like the lovechild of Royal Saxon and Public House, the light fittings in the front room are pure Auction Rooms, and the the circular holes in wooden slats are very Pelican.

Newmarket front
Newmarket bar

The dramatic concrete arches down the eastern wall of the venue are enlivened by the vivid blue ceiling and clever use of skylights.


Down the back near the kitchen is a 16 seater chef's table. I like the way in which the brightly coloured tiles are used sparingly below the benchtop.

Newmarket chefs table

A few days into the new year I tottered down to St Kilda to check it out, accompanied by M and E. We ordered a cocktail pitcher ($35, possibly the tequila-based Jalisco Falls but my memory may be deceitful) and pored over the huge menu.

Cocktail pitcher

The menu veers all over the place: seafood starters, Hispanic cured meats, Latin street food, pastas, big salads, ancient grains, cocoas (Catalan pizzas), wood oven rotisseria and low, slow cooked wood BBQ meats. I managed to cajole my dining companions into ordering just about everything from the Latin street food section of the menu.

The guacamole with native lime salsa fresca, plantain, jicama and tortilla chips ($14) was excellent, but I was disappointed by the surprisingly lacklustre BBQ corn on the cob with chilli and queso fresco ($4 each). Not a patch on Mamasita's elotes callejeros, I'm afraid.


However all was forgiven when the soft tacos showed up. Our favourites were the ones with baby gem lettuce, spicy pineapple salsa, pork carnitas and hot adobo sauce ($14 for two). A brilliant combination of flavours.

Pork carnitas tacos

We didn't order the tacos with wood roasted bone marrow, chimichurri and ranchero style brisket (next time, my pretties!), but we did get two with prawns, green mango and jicama ($15, thanks for the tip Ben) and two with spicy calamari, guacamole and tomatillo salsa ($14).

Prawn tacosCalamari tacos

After that we shared several more dishes: triple cooked patatas bravas ($7, pictured below), a very good thin crust pizzetta with the slightly oddball combo of spiced lamb, grapes, purple basil and pomegranate molasses ($20), St Louis cut pork ribs for $35 with apple slaw and Mr Wilson's BBQ sauce (which E found to be rather sour for her tastes), a miniature coffee and tequila Mexican flan ($14) and a sensational peach, raspberry and amaretti pie ($14). Sorry that I don't have decent photos of the latter dishes (insufficient light, dammit), but the pizza and pie can be seen on Cherrie's blog.

Triple cooked bravas

I'm looking forward to heading back for a repeat visit: I enjoyed almost all of the SoCal dishes and the cocktails were bloody good, particularly the cachaça-based Brazilnut. A welcome addition to the bayside!

Newmarket arches


greenbeenfood said...

looks fabulous! love the concrete has got the edge!!!

Emily said...

Aaah Schnitz and tits, best restaurant name ever. I'm seriously keen to try this out.. Michelada anyone?

shu shu said...

I love the pitchers and cocoas. Unfortunately not many friends can handle the spice in quite a few of the dishes but really that just means all the more for me.

Sarah said...

I love St Kilda in summer! and you are right about the outside looking like a public house/royal saxon lovechild.. must have a look..

claire said...

Hi gbf, yes the arches were my favourite feature!

Em: name the date, and I will head back there with you. Not sure whether or not they have micheladas though... after our last micheladafest maybe we could exercise restraint. Ha!!

Shu Shu, which of the milder dishes did your friends like?

Report back on which dishes you like, Sarah! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, love the interior design of the place! Looks like it would be a lovely place to dine on a warm summer day near the beach :).

Thanks for sharing !

Anonymous said...

Oh I am ALL about a Michelada. I cant tell you how thrilling it is to see the soft tortilla taco revolution roll on...

msihua said...

oh very nommy! I'm always looking out for good Mexican... so yes I shall try this...

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! Why have I left Melbourne???? It looks amazing! Just moved to London, grrrrr

Cherrie Pie said...

Hubby and I loved the food here. That pizza did have an oddball combo of ingredients but I rather liked it LOL. The roast suckling pig was amazing and was the dish of the day for me.

susan said...

I love the interior! I love all the new places that are coming up in melbourne and Sydney. They are so well designed that it makes you want to go there. The soft tacos look delicious!

Libby said...

This looks amazing and I must admit, very Sweet Valley High right down to the Spanish-tiled kitchen (well, dining room)! Will give it a go sometime.

Anonymous said...

But they've been playing the same Cat Empire CD ALL DAY!!!!! We are in the office next door and it is driving us mad.

Anonymous said...

Was quite nice but I prefer the tacos and corn with chipotle mayo at " Mexicano" in Sydney

Anonymous said...

Is mamasita better than Newmarket?

Garry said...

Despite high expectations of my visit, it took mere seconds for all that to be destroyed by a particularly rude hostess (I understand that was her title) full of her own self importance. It really doesn't matter how well done the redesign is, it's the people inside that count. One of the male staff was particularly helpful but following the encounter with Her Highness, I have huge difficulty recommending it to anyone. Unfortunately that will matter little to management as it looks like they are raking in the dollars and once nearby apartments become occupied, they will be laughing.