Nestled alongside the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne, Pure South Dining stands as a testament to the city’s vibrant culinary scene.
The team behind the relaxed fine diner is renowned for their commitment to showcasing the very best of Tasmanian’s pristine produce, offering a dining experience that’s a celebration of both place and palate.
My plus one and I were welcomed into the beautiful space by restauranteur Philip Kennedy (and a glass of Tasmanian sparkling). We were here to experience some of Pure South’s ever-evolving seasonal menu.
If you’re like us, the idea of a traditional fine dining restaurant often conjures up images of stuffy suits, uptight waiters and unpronounceable ingredients.
Pure South is anything but that.
The restaurant’s modern and elegant interior boasts large windows with sweeping views of the Yarra River, creating an ambiance that’s both refined and tranquil.
The waiters are incredibly warm and approachable, and if you want to know anything about a dish or a particular wine they seem to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of not just how it’s been made but also the farmer or producer they have sourced it from.
This level of detail elevates the whole experience, so for any foodies out there with a hunger for knowledge and a love of stories I’d urge you to ask a lot of questions.
The close relationship between the kitchen team at Pure South and Tasmanian farmers and producers is at the heart of the concept.
Being able to trace their world class produce to ethical farmers, fishermen and artisan producers in Tasmania, King Island and Flinders Island is something not many restaurants can claim.
So why the focus on Tasmania? As we tucked into our delicious entrees, a ‘Lease 65’ oyster from St Helens on the East Coast of Tasmania and a bite sized kingfish taco with bonito and desert lime paired with the excellent House of Arras Brut Elite NV Cuvee from Pipers Brook, the owner Philip Kennedy explained that these islands have the luxury of the cleanest seas, the lushest fields and most pristine air measured on the planet.
On top of that, the regular visits to the apple isle to meet with farmers and producers, people they know by name and call friends, they can be sure they their restaurant is getting the best of the best ingredients, in a sustainable and ethical way that benefits everyone (especially your tastebuds).
This culinary philosophy centers around seasonal, ethical and sustainable sourced ingredients, and this commitment is evident in every dish.
Up next was a Jerusalem artichoke with quince, Tongola Farm goats curd, miso and cashew. This unusual combination of flavours and textures worked perfectly and was matched with a crisp Milton Pinto Gris.
The talented team of chefs here are led by hatted Executive Chef David Hall who grew up near Glasgow. The next dish we were served, a Tassie scallop and King Island Rock Lobster ravioli with leek, herb oil and Cullen skink was inspired from his homeland of Scotland.
As Chef Hall explained to us while we were sipping our Pipers Brook Chardonnay, a skink is (thankfully) not just Aussie slang for a small lizard, but also a traditional Scottish soup made with smoked haddock (cod). For Chef Hill’s interpretation of the soup he used a blend of different fish and even eel to create a rich and creamy broth to nestle the ravioli in.
As the conversation flowed effortlessly across our table we couldn’t help but glance out of the windows between bites. There’s something incredibly romantic about gazing out at the sparkling city skyline while you sip on a tasty Tasmanian pinot.
The star of the show was the perfectly cooked lamb with heirloom carrots, yoghurt and date sauce. This dish like many of the others that came out during our visit was both visually stunning and incredibly flavourful. The paired Bay of Fires Pinot Noir worked perfectly with this dish.
From grass-fed beef to organic vegetables, each ingredient is selected with care and prepared with precision. One constant is that the seasonal menu always pays homage to Tasmania’s culinary heritage. On your own visit you may find dishes on the menu that include wallaby, pepperberry, and leatherwood honey that showcase the uniqueness of this island state’s flavours.
At this point in the night our table is contentedly full, but when our eyes catch sight of the dark chocolate brownie with hazelnut, tonic bean caramel and banana and cardamon ice cream, we knew we could fit in just a little bit more. And we’re so glad we did. This dessert was absolutely incredible, and a large part is due to the exceptional chocolate from Tasmanian chocolatier Anvers.
To top the night out we had a deliciously smooth Hauliers Road Distillery whisky cream liqueur.
While trending restaurants come and go, there’s a reason Pure South Dining has remained a must-visit destination for foodies in Melbourne. Relaxed and fine dining often don’t go hand in hand, but that truly is what you’ll experience here. What you see on the plate, or in your glass, is the result of a passionate relationship between the team at Pure South and the fine food producers of Tasmanian.
Their dedication to showcasing the best of Tasmania, paired with an exceptional riverfront setting makes Pure South a must-visit for food enthusiasts and those looking to savour the essence of this beautiful region. Pure South Dining is an unforgettable dining experience that’s as pure and beautiful as the landscapes it celebrates.