Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review - Strangers' Corridor

Thursday, 9th August 2012    

Strangers' Corridor/Members' Dining Room
Parliament House
Spring St

Cuisine: Modern Australian

Taste Rating: 8.0/10   Value Rating: 8/10

Strangers' Corridor on Urbanspoon

I have dined at Strangers' Corridor at Parliament House several times over the years. Each time, I have been privileged and fortunate to be able to use the Speaker's Dining Room, a separate room at one side of Strangers' Corridor that is reserved for use by Mr Speaker or Madame Speaker when Parliament is sitting. As before, I had invited guests to dine with me and was keen to show them this grand building.  

This time, however, there had been a change in restaurant management and this special room is no longer available for booking.   I was delighted when the fantastic  staff at Strangers Corridor "upgraded" my booking to the Members Dining Room, which is used by Members of Parliament when Parliament is sitting. And what a beautiful room it is - filled with stately old furniture, starched tablecloth, tableware with the Royal Crest of Parliament and a very dignified atmosphere. Special mention must be made of Ruwan Fernando, one of the friendly and professional staff.  Ruwan  provided impeccable service which could not be faulted. And thanks to him for organising our table for 10 people (two persons were unfortunately absent and missed out on this occasion).

I would advise making a booking. Check with the restaurant staff as to when Parliament is not sitting. This is when the restaurant is open to the members of the public. There is a sitting dates calendar on the Parliament of Victoria website.

Climbing up the famous steps of Parliament, we were hungry with anticipation. First, we went through security where our belongings were scanned and we each had to walk through a scanner. Having passed the security check, we each received a security pass. We then proceeded to the Vestibule, the grand entrance hall to Parliament which was completed in 1879. This is surrounded by columns on pedestals. On the floor is a mosaic of the Royal Crest encircled with a quotation "where no counsel is the people fail; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" Proverbs 11:14. 

The man at the reception counter swapped our security passes for stickers with a large red V. These stickers had to be placed on the front of our jackets. We then walked into Queen's Hall (Great Hall) which was completed in 1879. On the walls are portraits of ex-Premiers of Victoria. There is a marble statue of Queen Victoria which was erected in 1883.

We continued along the corridors (of Power) to Strangers' Corridor, then into the Members' Dining Room. The menu had five main dishes - one each of beef, vegetarian, duck, fish and pork. Victorian produce was well represented. To start, Ruwan filled little dishes with an olive oil made in Yarrawonga. The Rich Glen olive oil brand at the bottom of the dish was visible under the beautiful golden colour of the olive oil. The bread rolls were great on their own, with butter or dipped in the olive oil.

We ordered all the mains on the menu.
  • Daube of Gippsland beef with thyme roasted baby onions & kaiserfleisch, minted peas.
  • Tagine of Vegetables, preserved lemon Mograbieh cous cous, coriander salad, served with roti.
  • Confit leg of free range Aylesbury Duck, braised red cabbage, Milawa tarragon whipped potato, marsala sauce. 
  • Donnybrook Pasterello crusted Rockling, piperade capsicums, olives & chorizo, with steamed spring bay mussels and fennel salad.
  • Mongolian barbecued Victorian Pork Cutlet, grilled eggplant, tamarind salsa, green leaves.
We also ordered sides of green salad and fries. As is common nowadays at the more expensive restaurants, mains and sides are separate on the menu. Instead of meat being served with a serve of salad or chips, you order the salad or chips separately. This keeps the price of the mains reasonable on the menu. The upside of this for the diner is that they can choose whether to have the side or not, instead of paying a higher price for parts of the dish which they may not consume. 

We finished ordering about 1 o'clock. We were getting slightly anxious when none of the dishes had appeared but need not have worried. About 20 minutes later, the mains were all delivered to our table with a  flourish. And the kitchen had excelled!
My order was the duck. It was tender and came off the bone easily. The slight saltiness of the duck contrasted with the bed of red cabbage which was cooked and reduced until it tasted sweet and "jammy".

I tried the tomato, potato and cous cous from the tagine of vegetables. These tasted fine and the person who ordered it said they would be happy to order this dish again. The roti that went with the tangine of vegetables was not as well received with two of the guys saying that it  too "doughy". It was not as flavoursome as Malaysian or Indian roti.

I also tried the pork. Pork is not my first choice in meats but this was one of the best I have tasted. The pork was beautifully cooked - lean, succulent with very little fat on the outer layer. The unanimous decision from both diners who ordered it, and from me - this dish was outstanding! 

The salad was vibrant, with tasty shavings of cheese. One of the diners pointed out that the fries had no grease and I realised this was true!

Overall, all eight of us were fully impressed with the food, the service and the beauty of the building. It was a privilege to walk through this grand building with its long history. To have a beautiful meal here was the icing on the cake. We left with good memories of this place.

<More photos will be uploaded soon>

Parliament House, Spring St, Melbourne

Flag above Parliament House, Tram

Roman style Columns

View from the steps of Parliament House

Mosaic of the Royal Crest in the Vestibule (1879)
encircled with a quotation from Proverbs 11:14
(Photo 13/08/2012)

Queen's Hall (1879).
Was known as Great Hall.

Strangers' Corridor Restaurant

Members Only

Olive Oil from Yarrawonga

Royal Crest on the Menu

 Olive Oil, Butter for Bread Rolls

Royal Crest on the Salt & Pepper Shakers
and on the wine glass

Daube of Gippsland beef

Tagine of Vegetables

Roti to go with the Tagine of Vegetables
Confit leg of free range Aylesbury Duck

Donnybrook Pasterello crusted Rockling

Mongolian barbecued Victorian Pork Cutlet

Fries served on a plate with the Royal Crest!

Green Salad, shaved Donnybrook pasterello,
red wine dressing

Legislative Assembly Chamber (Lower House)

Legislative Assembly Chamber (Lower House)

Legislative Council Chamber (Upper House)

Legislative Council Chamber (Upper House)

Legislative Council Chamber (Upper House)

Chandelier made of brass and 2,000 pieces of Crystal



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