The Mess Hall

This little eatery at the top of Bourke Street is a reliable choice at pretty much any time of day, for any occasion. I’ve come here for the odd sneaky dessert, as well as for dinner (on dates, some good, others not so much…) and a good morning tea coffee the time we strategically left the building before the fire drill started (I have friends in high places, what can I say? Haha). I’d never come for lunch before, but it was actually a marvellous surprise.

Our team at work went to celebrate H’s leaving us and A and I getting qualified. Yes, so many celebratory meals! You have to have a good reason to go out all the time… and this was certainly well worth it. We took up the whole of the giant table upstairs – I didn’t even know it was up there, but easily caters to large groups.

We left it up to the boss to order a smattering of different entrees, which included the incredible croquettes (with harissa sauce, absolutely melt in your mouth), Polenta chips with aioli – polenta is a huge tick in my book, any day of the week, and these were the perfect crispness from the pan and soft polenta centres, with incredibly lip-smacking aioli. The calamari fritti with tartare and roquette was certainly the most delicious calamari I’ve had this year, hands down. I don’t know where they’re sourcing their ingredients but these were fresh, soft and tasty. Sadly, no photo, but the croquettes were pretty photogenic:

I wouldn’t recommend the salads for mains unless you’re really not that hungry, they’re not particularly large. At $13.50 this roasted pumpkin was a big hit

I’m not exactly sure what this tells you about our work team (remember this is the same lot who went to Longrain earlier this year) but nobody ordered pizza – we all opted for the main dishes/pastas, the most popular of which were the orecchiette, linguini, fish of the day and the pork belly.

As soon as they came out, I knew I was on a winning dish. The pork belly was incredibly big, succulent, full of flavour (and fat, of course!) It’s served up with fresh greens and pickle, thinly sliced. Heaven on my fork and easily blows the pork from Nautical (which I thought was pretty perfect) out of the water completely. I’m pretty sure it’s where the succulent juicy pork in all of its meaty fatty glory meets the acidity of the pickle. Simply mouthwatering.

Pictured is H’s fish of the day. She instructed me to let you know that it was ‘soft, full of flavour and perfect with the fresh lemon’. I think she’s in love.

I mean, I’m aware that the food here is pretty good. The squid ink pasta was an odd favourite of a few of my friends, but lunch? Could it be *that* consistently good? I was excited to find that it was. Amazingly, the service remained good even though we were the only people upstairs and they took great pains to make sure our dishes all arrived at the same time, no mean feat for a table of 12!

The Mess Hall on Urbanspoon

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 10/10
Food: 9/10 (nothing too inventive, but still exceptionally good quality)
Value for money: 7/10
Score (food is weighted double): 86%

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