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Bob Hart

Bob Hart writes

“Lunch for two began with the splashing of a decent $30 cotes du rhone into elegant glasses, as we surveyed the offerings chalked – French brasserie style – on blackboards, with specials emblazoned across wall mirrors.
I began with a terrific dish – warm chicken livers draped over a mixed leaf salad. The livers had been marinated in soy and sugar and seared in walnut oil creating a caramelised crusting around pink, moist insides, walnuts and hot grapes completed the picture.
My partner-in-food addressed an equally successful, and deliciously simple, grilled goats-cheese dish, also served on a mixed leaf salad.
These two robust entrées, both matched to the simple red and the comfortable surrounds had cost us a reasonable $11 a pop. Not bad at all.
Moretons regulars, of whom there seem to be more each week, tend to focus on griller offerings in this tiny 33-seat establishment: we chose to follow their lead.
My sturdy duck breast had been sealed and branded on a charcoal grill, oven-finished to a delicate pink, rested, sliced, and served beside a mound of spinach and in the cheerful company of a volley of morello cherries warmed in an admirable jus.
My mates lamb rump, also cautiously grilled, rested against a mound of cauliflower and thyme puree and paddled happily in a juniper jus.
Both dishes cost in the low $20s and came with excellent French fries for which no extra charge was made.
Puddings added just another $10 to each of our bills – mine was a raspberry crème, splendidly decadent and rather pleased with itself under a deep glaze of raspberry sauce, while my mate made shortish work of a generous portion of Belgian chocolate ice cream.
This place, one of a strip of eateries in a not particularly desirable sector of Rathdowne St. has quite a history.
It is the place from which Walter and Maria Bourke launched their first incursion into the Melbourne restaurant market: they closed it in the early 1990s to concentrate on Walters Wine Bar in Southgate, re-opened it all-too-briefly as the excellent Wine Bar Two when Southgate was up and running, and after that it morphed into a useful little bistro called Cézanne.
As Moretons, however, it is in the hands of experience restaurateurs Jenny Walsh and Chris Rees, who sold a large establishment in Gerrards Cross, Bucks. England, to settle into something calmer and smaller in Melbourne. Both are accomplished chefs but, these days, Jenny usually operates out front while Chris runs the kitchen.
Australian-born Chris’s French leanings, however, are clearly influenced- as with the chicken liver marinade – by Jenny’s Singapore upbringing.
Which means, of course, that their food is precisely the sort of stuff Melbournians understand and adore.
As, indeed, are the prices


“The wine list at Moretons is modest, with a few genuine bargains. But in line with making this an economical eating-out experience, patrons are welcome to bring their own, which is a great idea. Should you forget, however, I recommend you consolidate the French tendencies of the food with a bottle of excellent Chemin des Papes Cote de Rhone – an ideal brasserie wine at $30 a bottle”

Herald Sun June 14 2003