The Town Mouse is a prime example of a restaurant that is both the perfect setting for special occasions and also on the local’s radars for a quick wine pit stop accompanied by delectable small morsels. This balance is no easy feat to achieve, but the Town Mouse, with an interesting menu and cool setting, is leaps and bounds in front of the herd.
Directed by Head Chef Dave Verheul, the menu invites patrons to sample small concoctions of well-composed flavour profiles; goats cheese profiteroles dipped in sweet honey and brushed with caraway and thyme, for example. The mains are rich explorations into the frontiers of flavour, think; rich meats with hints of unassuming herbs. Chef George Tomlin, who deservedly was awarded Young Chef of The Year, is also a key contributor to the Town Mouse’s success.
The shiny black-tiled interior of the Town Mouse oozes Carlton cool. The location on unassuming Drummond St, just rear of my favourite Melbourne cinema, Cinema Nova, and the outdoor seats that usually have locals enjoying conversations and drinks makes the Town Mouse so effortlessly hip. It is worth securing a booking before visiting or you may be turned away from this popular destination. Alternatively, there are limited seats at the bar which is where I dined upon my first visit.
To follow; beef tartare, cultured cream, saltbush & lemon myrtle. The beef was diced finely into juicy, salty cubes, and plunged into a hint of cultured cream rounded the potent raw beef flavour. I am honestly hesitant when it comes to ingesting forms of raw meat, but the flavour profile of the Town Mouse’s beef tartare was delicious distracting and stopped me second guessing what I was gleefully devouring.
Next arrived the main affair; Pork hock, charred carrots, shallots, yeast & yoghurt and a vegetable main of fried chat potatoes, yuzu mayonnaise. The rich pork hock was marbled with delicious juices and the meat tenderly fell apart at the hint of a fork prong. The julienned carrots were charred to perfect. I highly recommended to scoop up the caramelised shallots, pork hock and carrots, swirl in some yeast and yoghurt and enjoy layers of sweet and savoury flavours.
It was a special occasion, and a Monday evening, so we promptly ordered 2 cocktails to begin. The drink that goes by the name Vice & Stormy features a coffee-spiked rum, imparting a smoky aftertaste after a light and refreshing medley of yuzu and bitters to begin. The wine list is worth a mention too, with a selection of organic and biodynamic wine sourced from small providers. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine between meals.
The Town Mouse delivers everything I seek in a dining experience; deliciously interesting food, a well curated wine list, friendly and attentive service (with a good measure of wit) and a beautiful interior. Summer is on the horizon and the Town Mouse’s courtyard would be the perfect venue for a weeknight misadventure.