Huxtable rises above the pack and is a stellar Melbourne restaurant that soars into the stratosphere. Daniel Wilson owner and chef is a genius. You won’t find the “fake” and the “forced” at Huxtable. The philosophy according to Daniel is to cook the best food that he loves to share with special people. That’s the philosophy. In his words “life is too short for mediocrity in the mouth.”
Huxtable has already received the acclaim of international culinary giant Heston Blumenthal. The story goes that he visited Huxtable soon after touching down at Tullamarine. He and his friends arrived unannounced and sampled a good deal of the menu. It is told Heston was full of praise for Daniel and the Huxtable team.
And that’s the thing about Huxtable. International culinary giants visit this place. They have heard of the amazing flavour profiles in the dishes. For example the Croquettes include the kick and heat of Jallapenos. But not too much kick – just enough. The creaminess of the Croquettes are enhanced by the cheddar cheese component. So moorish.
The Roasted Duck breast is perfectly cooked and comes with the crunch of red cabbage and the sweetness of quince. But to add the hot mustard is amazing in bringing imagination and balance – particularly when it’s house made mustard prepared by Daniel Wilson.
Huxtable was nominated for “Best New Restaurant” in the 2012 The Age Good Food Guide. Had one of the best ever Saturday afternoons here engaging with kitchen staff. That’s another point of difference. Whereas other venues shun engagement – at Huxtable it’s a joy to sit at the counter in front of the open kitchen and engage the staff. Sublime.
Many wonder, is there a connection to the Huxtables of the sitcom The Cosby Show? Talking with Daniel Wilson the identification was more with Huxley’s “Brave New World” than the Cosby Show. This is a brave new culinary world. Envelopes are pushed but everything works in the most magnificent way. Inevitably people will connect the restaurant to the Cosby’s. And so the design of Huxtable brings in the muted 70s feel of the Cosby show. It embraces an element of “homeliness” to the dining experience – you feel you’re dining in someone’s home. Even the brick features of the Cosby home are incorporated. It’s also an ambience that is very Melbourne.
My favourite dining spot at Huxtable is along the counter to engage with the kitchen staff. The whole team are stars and are recognised in their own right. The ambience is so cool with loud reggae music being drowned out only by the hipster collective in the room. The decor is chic adding to the ambience. Everyone talks about the cool brown swivel chairs in the dining room and rightly so. They work for me, as you tend to slouch a little as the meal progresses into a state of fine dining bliss. The décor has that very Melbourne mismatch fusion between retro and uber modern.
Huxtable is a restaurant where nearly every dish is a signature popular dish. As Daniel says, if not it is taken off the menu. Style comes together with creativity and imagination. The olives are great not just because they are exceptional olives but the tangy sauce they are in is superb. Also some quality bread and butter to start. Wine is by the glass and includes an interesting mix of nations.
The mains are spectacular, divided into sea, land and earth. We ordered several shared meals – always love this form of dining as we bring community to the cuisine.
The Twice cooked Wagyu with Vermicelli salad (a thai element), tamarind, mint and peanuts is sensational. The Korean BBQ Pork ribs are one of the best renditions of pork in Melbourne, coming with a Spicy Slaw and chilli gherkin.
Another superb dish is the Warm salad of sweetcorn, black beans, with chipotle and lime creme fraiche. A great dish for winter you just want more of.
The crisp NZ King Salmon with polmelo and peanut and chilli salad is simply amazing. The crispy crusted skin on the salmon and the way it was tenderly cooked is outstanding. The accompanying salad is perfect bringing crunch and freshness to match the salmon.
For dessert the Ice cream and fudge sandwich is super popular and iconic. The Rhubarb jam donuts are crazy good, with orange blossom custard and yoghurt sorbet. Watching the chef inject the donuts with the jam from a syringe was a highlight.
Service was excellent with water being poured into our glasses every 5 minutes and great knowledge, attitude and attentiveness. The staff are professional, knowledgeable and keen to serve. Possibly the best service in Melbourne.
Appealing is the philosophy of Huxtable as per their website: “Huxtable is a place where anyone can come and enjoy great tasting, uncomplicated food matched with wine and beverages that express consideration and experimentation delivered in an environment that is comfortable and easy to use.” Still on a Huxtable high.
Huxtable, 131 Smith St Fitzroy – Contemporary
Food 9.5 Ambience 9.5