Captain BaxterSt Kilda has been Melbourne's beachside playground for over 160 years.
It all began way back when Mr Monash spied the sleek Schooner owned by Sir Thomas Dyke Acland 'Lady of St Kilda' moored in the bay.
Who is Captain Baxter? Long before Captain Baxter was friends with a tank engine named Thomas, Captain Benjamin Baxter was globetrotting around the world, finally settling in St Kilda as a grazier / undercover superhero.
Let us take you on his journey through St Kilda's roots whilst sipping cocktails, watching the bay and sharing plates with friends!
2013 AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE VICTORIAN METROPOLITAN SAVOUR AUSTRALIA RESTAURANT AND CATERING
'Best New Restaurant Winner'
Kitchen and Bar: Thursday 5pm - late. Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12pm - late
The Herald Sun Digital Edition: Re-berth of cool
Summer in St Kilda is looking swell, writes Dan Stock
WITH the kind of sweeping, horizon-hogging views we rarely make the most of in Melbourne, an expansive, umbrella'd outdoor deck where cocktails are served by the litre, and a hostel of Irish backpackers serving the space, one would be forgiven for thinking Captain Baxter little more than a party palace doing little by way of enhancing St Kilda's culinary cred.
Well, that's what I thought. And I couldn't be more wrong.
Those backpackers, for one, are a credit. As carefree and friendly as you'd expect of 20-somethings escaping a northern winter but who also each knew their way around a restaurant and, more importantly, the menu and handled such questions as 'what is jaew mak len?' as easily as a request for another glass of rose.
It's just one of the excellent surprises the good Captain has in store.
This St Kilda stalwart closed in May for a full facelift and now the bandages are off has come up looking a million bucks. The first-floor space is beach bungalow breezy with enough blue and white and cane to make any Sorrento matriarch feel at home. With large picture windows looking over the foreshore, the stylish dining room is no consolation prize to the enclosed balcony tables under a huge retractable roof.
Tim Martin has joined longtime exec chef Matt Dawson in the kitchen, the duo delivering a large menu that ticks off the expected seaside hits but with Asian twists and unexpected elan.
A large charcoal grill does most of the heavy lifting in the kitchen, where bigger groups are well serviced with 1.4kg of Cape Grim rib eye ($130), and for those who like their vegetables there's a thick charry cauliflower steak seasoned with furikake ($24). But I'll be back for the Isan barbecue chicken. A Thai-style sweet-sharp marinade adds caramelised colour to the Gamekeepers corn-fed chook of which a half a bird is served. The pinky, purple flesh is both smoky and juicy and completely delicious, the accompanying jaew mak len - which means, roughly, 'bad ass tomato sauce' according to our waitress - is a vibrant, hot salsa that lives up to its name ($36). More sedate but no less sublime pleasures are found on ice in all their full-shelled glory. This 'taste of the sea' platter is exactly what you want to eat with this view and is all sorts bibup , dig-in fun. You'll find huge prawns, meaty, sweet and tender, and freshly shucked oysters that taste of the sea until you give them a shake of the tiny Tabasco bottle, and clams and mussels, with whole yabbies and swimmer crab claws to crack into and suck dry. It's a $50-ahead plate of summer fun. Friday night fish and chips are forever ruined thanks to the one-two punch of knockout potato cakes - small discs of fried fluffy crunch served with an inspired mayo brightened with yuzukosho (a Japanese citrus and chilli condiment) $14
- and a spot on version of the seaside favourite that puts others to shame . Three generous juicy fillets of King George whiting, their batter effortlessly light and flaky, come with great skin-on chips . A muslinwrapped lemon half shows an attention to detail rarely seen on a $29 plate, a conga line of fat pickles on the side to cut through the mouth-coating carbs nothing short of genius.
Earlier, a plate of raw ruby tuna cured in a tart smoked ponzu sauce comes topped with freshly grated wasabi, the subtle heat playing with the salt, a mayonnaise underneath adding creamy decadence to the fish ($22). Two duck meatballs skewered and served with a sticky cured yolk disappear in inverse proportion to the amount of time they took to create ($7).
The predominantly Oz wines are sectioned under such userfriendly labels as 'zingy and fruity' and 'bold and spicy' at prices that encourage calling for another, whether a $50-odd bottle or $11 glass.
While we only scratched the surface on the menu - there were sour curry mussels with roti, and salt baked kingfish, and a fish and scallop pie spied on the table next door to come back for - I thoroughly recommend finishing with a scoop of coconut ice cream covered in its desiccated flesh ($10), though the pavlova filled with ripe banana and topped with fresh passionfruit is equally compelling ($13).
A couple of slip ups - paper napkins (sigh), and salt and pepper left on the table through dessert - do little to tarnish the otherwise polished offering and a truly great meal with real bang-for-buck .
❊ Address & Contact ❊
⊜ 10/10-18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda | Map
✆ (03) 8534 8999
❊ Web Links ❊
→ Captain Baxter
❊ Also See... ❊
→ St Kilda Sea Baths
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