I wanted something low-key for my 30th birthday lunch with the family. Good, rustic food, a classy, quiet venue, and somewhere not too expensive.
Sunday lunch in early January poses a few problems, as a lot of restaurants are closed – either for the xmas break, or just because it’s Sunday. One of our favorite restaurants which happened to be open (Circa, the Prince) never responded to my web enquiry, despite me calling them and being recommended to use their online enquiry system. After a few false starts, I ended up settling on The Press Club, the swank Greek restaurant by George Calombaris.
A day after my tentative booking, they emailed me a confirmation form (we asked for a table of 14, so this is not unusual) with a sample menu, price per head, and the different menu options for lunch. I was quoted $70 per head for the “Kerasma – to treat and to share”, which consists of “Tastes, entree, main and dessert”, selected by the chef. I queried the cost as Kerasma for regular bookings is listed at $65 per head on the website. Their reservations coordinator explained that “For reservations of 8 and over we require a group menu priced at $70 per person.”, but also added that “Our group menu does include unlimited bottled sparkling or still water”.
$5 / head extra seemed like a good deal, considering non-group bookings pay $8 per person for the same unlimited Acqua Panna / San Pellegrino mineral water, so we confirmed the booking. In the end, we were only charged $65pp anyway – according to their Group Menu on their website, $65 is in fact the correct cost and does include unlimited bottled water. So there you go – rock up with a big group, and you will get free water.
As for the menu, there was another strange twist. The sample menu we were given contained two courses that we did not receive – Appetisers (two dishes of them) and Petite (sic) Fours. What we ended up with was 4 “Tastes (Mezethes)”, 2 “Main Dishes, Land and Sea (Kyrio)”, and one Dessert (Glyko).
The “Tastes” were all brought out at roughly the same time, and couldn’t be faulted. “Marinated olives” arrived at the table with some black salt, white bread, and olive bread. The waitress disappeared and returned with George’s specially imported Olive Oil, which was poured over the olives.
The “Ouzo cured fish, radish salad, herbs” was a perfect light start to the meal, and was followed up with a wonderfully tender “Duck salad with cumin roasted beetroot”. The “Lamb Keftedes” were nicely seasoned and quite moreish.
The mains arrived next – a beautifully cooked “Pan fried swordfish” was paired with sweet roasted red capsicum, and a “Grilled chicken maryland” with cannellini beans and tomato was the perfect home-style food – it had been marinated in lemon and cumin, I think.
Lastly was dessert – “Orange Panna Cotta, Fresh Blood Orange, Blood Orange Jellies”. This was a pretty good way to end the meal – the orange flavor was quite delicate, and the Panna Cotta itself was perfectly set.
I received mine on a special birthday plate, and also got a happy birthday card signed on behalf of George Calombaris and the team at The Press Club.
Aside from the miscommunication with the costings and the menu, The Press Club is a great place for a Sunday lunch. All the food was cooked BE-AU-TIFULLY (sorry George, I couldn’t resist!) and the floor staff were exemplary. The dining room is a great space, but the toilets are a bit odd (note to architects: one can’t close a toilet door that opens out into the urinal space when someone is using the urinal!!!).
We hope to go back for dinner soon!