The welcome was like a reunion with an old friend - warm, personal and it truly felt like catching up with someone dear and beloved after a makeover. The strongest lingering memory I have of the meal now, three and a half weeks later is that service was second to none. There was no waiting for others to be seen to first, no attempting to catch someone's eye and yet there was also none of the excessive hanging around / looming over you / chatting to one another that occurs when there's nothing for the wait staff to do. They manage that balance really well and we were so well looked after.
The room is long and narrow with boothed seating that is all plump leather. It kind of reminded me of what first class would be like on an aeroplane and I was half expecting our lounge seat to turn into flatbed and that the screens separating the booths could slide up and down!
Ceiling lights are interesting - a big puzzle of curvaceous shapes and the one above our seat was like a giant empty can of luncheon meat!
Other little bowlfuls arrived including some crispy chips, fried school prawns, an empanada (pastry filled pasty) and some octopus on a stick served on a thick brick.
The idea is like a mezze - picky food to eat and accompanying this assortment of goodies was a small glass of beer, some Greek sparkling wine and home made ouzo with a cucumber water ice in the shape of a cucumber.
The octopus was tender and tasty and went well the with sparkling wine. The saltiness and deep fried nature of the chips and the school prawns were great with the beer. It's quite hard to recall actually what was in the empanadas but they were eaten and appreciated!
After the salad came a beautiful mushroom youvetsi which is the Greek pasta done like risotto. I say it was beautiful because the pine mushrooms and truffles were indeed beautiful.
My only quibble and I am being so fussy is that a lot of the crockery used at the Press Club has a rough texture and so scraping of metal cutlery against (especially when it's soup in a soup bowl) it causes that "nails on blackboard" feeling in me but it's such a personal thing that I can't hold it against the restaurant.
And another familiar dish arrived; the magnificent Kangaroo Island marron with cauliflower. Sweet marron flesh with pickled cucumber - delightful.
Our meat course was beef and onion - slow braised beef with different onion textures and two tubes of pasta that provided the starch accompaniment. The meat was tender, the onions delicious. Nothing to fault - not the most original of dishes and I'm pretty sure I've had other versions but like I said, cannot fault the plate of food.
Lemon meringue on a stick and browned at the table is pretty impressive and it was an amazing mouthful of delight. I could have had another one...and another...The soft sugary meringue came first which made me hesitate and think, oh this is too sweet to be refreshing but then the lemon curd came through and started to freeze my jaw with the sharpness, in a pleasant way of course! And yes it came up trumps.
Our Press Club experience was enjoyable. There was a bit of theatre, some intriguing flavours and some darn good plates of food. I've got to say thought that I couldn't help having a teeny feeling of being underwhelmed after the experience. I think it was probably that this Press Club visit was very close to our Press Club Projects experience and so some of the dishes were not new to us (some minor variations but on the whole the same) and whilst tasty and so enjoyable for our tastebuds, probably didn't stun the mind as well as it could.
Interesting was the comments book that arrives with the bill and the effusive enthusiasm of the diners that commented and that contrasts with the negativity on Urbanspoon. I wonder if any of the reviewers on Urbanspoon wrote in the book.