We headed out to the Exhange Hotel in Port Melbourne for a girlfriends birthday last weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect as I had read mixed reviews, but the menu sounded really appealing and my girlfriend regularly eats there.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely, sophisticated dining room with friendly staff and an interesting menu with a lot more to offer than your regular pub. I loved the miscallaneous cool antique looking chairs around the table.
To start, Craig and I shared these amazing crumbed prawn croquettes. They were filled with this almost Mexican style prawn mixture with guacamole. Along with these, the hotel featured a lot of really interesting and unique style tapas dishes that I would love to work my way through.
I ordered something I NEVER ordered for dinner- I am not sure why I finally broke my risotto ban. After years of being disappointed by watery, gluggy risotto I decided to try again with the king prawn and mascarpone risotto with fresh herbs and Moreton Bay Bugs. Yum! What a great time to break my ban. The texture was perfect, slightly creamy from the cheese, flavoured with beautiful dill and topped with gorgeous plump Moreton Bay bugs and littered with a generous amount of prawns.
Craig had the twice cooked pork belly with parsnip puree, lentils and a roasted apple sauce. It looked divine and I had total food envy, but Craig commented that for twice cooked, the crackling wasn't crunchy at all. I did have a taste though, and the flavour combinations were wonderful.
Some of the girls had the roasted chicken with chasseur sauce, mash and sauteed spinach. This looked like a gorgeous homely, French inspired meal and they seemed to enjoy it.
Another friend had the meal that I was umming and aahing over ordering... gnocchi with braised duck and winter vegetables. This looked like a gorgeous, homely dish and I think I would have been pretty content with it. Maybe I will have to go back to give it a try...
The (tiny) birthday girl managed to chow down on this massive, gorgeous looking burger served with a stack of house cut wedges.
We managed to squeeze in dessert also (I think this decision was influenced by several glasses of wne over dinner) and my girlfriend and I couldn't go past the Baileys Bombe Alaska... and how glad are we that we didn't?! What a treat. Beautiful Bailey's ice-cream smothered in sweet, sticky meringue. I just loved this dessert!
The sticky-date looked very good too, and generous serving!
Despite reading some bad reviews, I do think the Exchange Hotel is worth trying for yourself. Despite it being a busy Saturday night, we had a lovely evening with good service, lovely food and a cool atmosphere. I imagine it would also be an enjoyable atmosphere on a gorgeous summer day. Good 'pub' food in Port Melbourne.