You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky/ when we walk in fields of gold”
Sumner, G., Bogdanovic, D. (1993) Fields of Gold [Recorded by Sting]. On Ten Summoner’s Tales [CD]. EMI Music Publishing
If you are into your food, you can’t go to St. Kilda without stopping by Golden Fields. This trendy eatery has been popping up on many an Instagram feed, accompanied by cries of, “Lobster roll! LOBSTER ROLL!”
What? Did you just name a tasty crustacean? Why, of course I would like to eat it!
Needless to say, when a restaurant is making such waves, there is bound to be more than one interesting thing on the menu. We are informed by the lovely waitress that the menu is designed to share – my favourite kind of menu! – and that some dishes even come in half portions.
First on the table was a half portion of Kingfish, Avocado, Fresh Wasabi and Konbu, $8. Fresh slices of kingfish was paired with delicate greens and creamy avocado puree, and while thoroughly enjoyable and balanced in its simplicity, didn’t hit any particular high notes for me.
Next on the table was the Grilled Octopus with Kimchi Bean Sprouts, $12. Being a huge fan of both kimchi and octopus, this dish of tender octopus tentacles, shaved cucumber and tangy, crunchy bean sprouts was a dish I could see eating as a main for a light lunch. I loved how the bean sprouts were just lightly pickled and had a much subtle flavour than cabbage kimchi – the traditional kimchi recipe calls for a period of fermentation for the cabbage, bringing forth a much stronger sour flavour that can be an acquired taste.
My aunt had actually visited Golden Fields ahead of me, and the Rolled Pork Belly with White Kimchi and Yuxiang Sauce, $15 came highly recommended. White kimchi is basically cabbage kimchi that has been picked without the kochukaru, or red pepper flakes, which contribute to its red appearance. It still retains all of its sour fermented glory, minus the spice. Yuxiang sauce (鱼香) is literally translated to “fragrant fish” sauce, and doesn’t actually contain fish! Instead, this salty, sour and peppery sauce with Sichuan origins is commonly used to flavour eggplant and pork. You know the eggplant dish in Chinese restaurants labelled as “fish flavoured eggplant”? Well this would be the sauce that they’re talking about.
The sauce, combined with the tangy kimchi and delicate slices of pork belly creates a mouthful that I truly enjoyed. I love how the different flavours – salty, spicy, sour – balance each other out, and yet maintain a certain sense of identity.
Ahh and so we meet. When we order a portion of the New England Lobster Roll, $15 the waitress politely asks us if we’d like to have our roll cut in half, because the portion is just that: one roll. We decline, and she thoughtfully brings us out a knife with our order in case we’d like to split it anyway. This roll is somewhat smaller than I expected: the whole bun is about the size of my palm. A rich buttered roll sandwiches chunks of cold, poached crayfish that is lightly dressed is Kewpie mayonnaise and adorned with delicate sprigs of watercress. Tasty? Sure. But worth the hype and the $15 price tag? Well let’s just say that I would have been much more satisfied ordering another portion of the pork rolls (above).
Cuts of beef that require long cooking times have become my absolute favourite – when a muscle works hard, thicker muscle fibres and more flavour is created. And you know what I say, bring on the beefiness! For the flavour, you’re paying the price in tenderness, so these cuts require a longer cooking time in order to break down connective tissue (collagen) into gelatine, which then coats the strands and provide you with a juicy mouthful.
Golden Fields’ Grilled Beef Intercoastal with Korean Chilli and Fried Shallot, $16, has brilliantly upped the ante on this cut’s natural beefy flavour – the salty spiciness of the chilli and light crunch of the shallots combine with the mildly charred pieces of meat to transform into a flavour-packed diet-busting mouthful. Total beer food.
I have a love-hate relationship with eggplant. This vegetable can take on so many different textures and flavours depending on how you prepare it, that you never quite know what you’re going to get. It also has the easy ability to become hideously oily, which means that you can end up with a mouthful of oil with not much flavour if you’re not careful.
This Marinated Eggplant with Silken Tofu, Coriander and Chilli Vinegar, $14 was no slack in the flavour department, that’s for sure, but the silken tofu was actually what stole the spotlight for me. While the eggplant was pleasant, and provided a certain heft to the overall dish, the tofu provided a delicate pillow of lightness which, when combined with the acidity and spice of the chilli vinegar, completely lifted the dish to a whole other level.
In order to sample a dish from every section of their menu, we ordered the Pan Roasted flathead, with clams, Spinach and Seaweed Butter, $36. While there was nothing to fault – the fish wasn’t overcooked, and the clams were fresh and juicy – the dish was a touch lacklustre for me, especially when compared to the other items that they had on offer. I love the umami flavour of seaweed, but the butter component seemed to have provided no richness to the dish, so everything fell just on the bland side of things. I think I would have much rather ordered a few more small plates.
Sometimes, having a good dessert can be vital to ensuring that all the hard work a restaurant has put in to making a good impression, isn’t ruined in the last run. And this Buttermilk Sorbet, Yuzu Curd, Tapioca and Soft Meringue, $13, really hit it out of the park for me. There seemed to be varying degrees of tanginess – from the sharp freeze-dried raspberries to the soft tartness of the buttermilk sorbet – juxtaposed with comforting textures – silky yuzu curd and chewy tapioca pearls – to create a fantastic note to end the meal with. Light and somewhat palette-cleansing, this dessert convinced my already-full stomach that maybe we could do with more food.
And we can always do with more food.
On other notes, the service was attentive and the decor was trendy, but nothing spectacular to remark about. I really liked how we had our plates changed between the waves of food that were brought out, and how the waitress provided helpful bits of information about the food when we were ordering. That being said, we went on a weekday lunch where it seemed like it was just us and three other groups, so I can’t accurately comment on what the service would be like during a rush.
Go to Golden Fields if you feel like grazing – it’s small tasty bites aren’t built for people looking for serious comfort food – it would be great for Friday gatherings after work.
We ate at:
03 9525 4488
2/157 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda, VIC