Nestled within the heart of Melbourne's thriving Collins Street business district is Collins Square Hospitality Group's hub of award winning restaurant brands Chiara, Bar Nacional and Long Shot Café. To complement the group's iconic restaurants comes Collins Square Catering and the Collins Square Cellar, outstanding hospitality services for discerning inner Melbourne foodies. From your morning coffee fix, to Spanish tapas and VIP sommelier experiences, Collins Square Hospitality Group offers a little something for every foodie.
Gastrology recently enjoyed an intimate 'Progressive Dinner' where we sampled the finest food and beverage from Collins Square Hospitality Group in an intimate dinner hosted by each of the executive and head chefs in their respective venues.
First stop: Canapés @ Collins Square Catering
Compressed watermelon, Yarra Valley feta, aged balsamic, oregano
Our evening began with canapés in the catering kitchen. Collins Square Catering is Melbourne's most convenient events and catering offering, with a seamless process from ordering through to delivery.
Our favourite canapé was the Duck empanada. The wonderfully flaky empanadas were filled with melt in your mouth slow cooked duck and served alongside blood orange mayonnaise. Topped with sesame seeds for some added texture, the empanadas were just beautiful.
Second stop: Entree @ Bar Nacional
Bar Nacional pays homage to the most celebrated aspects of Spanish food culture: a lively atmosphere, community, quality ingredients, careful preparation, and the fast-paced variety of flavours and creative combinations achievable with dishes designed especially to share.
The Bar Nacional menu re-interprets a range of Spanish classics in new and exciting ways, with Head Chef Scott Spence dishing up traditional Carrasco guijuelo Iberian bellota and a creative play on crema catalana.
Smoked ham hock and fennel bomba
The bomba had a wonderfully crisp exterior which combined beautifully with the smoked ham hock which provided salinity to the dish while the creamy fennel ensured that the dish had requisite balance.
Perrito caliente - guindillas, pork crackling
We loved this Spanish take on the hot dog. Sandwiched between buttery brioche buns are juicy chorizo sausages, complete with indulgent sauces and decadent pork crackling. These rolls wantonly disregard the current trend towards healthy eating and, as a result, are abundantly flavoursome.
Third stop: Main @ Chiara
Chiara's menu pays homage to the authentic Italian culinary culture, with a modern Melbourne twist. The restaurant's impressive wine list boasts a decadent selection of Italian wines, champagne, local favourites and rare, aged options alongside aperitivo style cocktails.
For those looking for an exclusive experience, Chiara's semi-private cellar room offers bespoke dining with personal menus and matched beverages for up to 18 guests.
Braised rabbit saddle, carrot, cardamom, guanciale & rock oysters
A myriad of well-balanced flavours enveloped the rabbit meat which was well cooked, juicy and tender. It was a rich and complex dish that worked superbly.
Fourth stop: Dessert @ Long Shot
Rumoured to be the best cafe West-of-Spencer, the team behind Long Shot understands that Melburnians take their coffee seriously, with expert baristas pouring a morning brew of coffee roasted by St Ali.
Coconut ice pops, passion fruit curd, baby basil
All sweet treats are made in-house daily by pastry guru Maria Lantelme.
From left: Brown butter panacotta, Canadian Maple croissant croutons; Caramelised chocolate puff pastry, cherry ice cream, vanilla powder
A local lunch haunt for fresh sandwiches, healthy salads, baked goods and treats to cap off your afternoon cravings, Long Shot has spoils for every palate.
Madeleines & caneles
We loved each of the sweet treats we indulged in. Each were a decadent interpretation of classic French and Italian creations that had been carefully handcrafted.
Gastrology were recently lucky enough to be able to cater a private function with some delicious hampers provided by Egg Unlimited, delivered straight to our door.
We found the choices available on the Egg Unlimited menu innovative and modern, with options suitable for a wide range of events from corporate lunches to high teas. We elected to sample 2 Wellbeing Hampers, an Against the Grain Hamper and a Bagel & Friend Hamper.
Clearly made with love, each hamper was packaged securely sealing in their delicious contents and making the hampers very convenient – we simply removed the lids and served.
Wellbeing 1 Hamper
(Crispy skinned Atlantic salmon (6), Blanched broccolini tossed with sweet raisins and almonds (V) (12), Green zucchini and fresh mint omelette souffle (V) (6), Char grilled free range chicken marinated in lemon, garlic, coriander, olive oil, bay leaf and freshly cracked pepper (8), Two tubs of chef’s seasonal salads along with cucumber yoghurt (to serve) (V), House baked rolls to complement)
This hamper was an absolute stunner and our favourite hamper from the evening. The quality of the salmon was exemplary. The skin was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. We loved how it was cooked simply, allowing the natural subtle sweetness of the salmon to be enjoyed. The blanched broccolini was fresh and we loved the addition of sweet raisin which complemented the dish as well as the almonds which added texture. The char grilled chicken was cooked to perfection and seasoned beautifully.
Wellbeing 2 Hamper
(Morrocan Lamb Fillets & tahini yoghurt sauce, Sugar & snow pea salad (GF,V), Calamari marinated in chilli ,garlic & coriander (GF), Freekah grain with sweet potato, leek, shanklish & maple (V), Omelette soufflé of sweet corn, chili and baby chervil (GF)(V), Two tubs and chef’s seasonal salads along with cucumber, yoghurt, Bag of spelt flour rolls to complement)
Another delicious hamper, we loved the high quality pieces of lamb which were cooked perfectly to a tender and juicy pink and the calamari which was bursting with flavour. The accompanying omelette souffle and seasonal salads exhibited a marvellous freshness and were each skilfully executed.
Against the Grain Hamper
(Rare roast Angus beef, anchovy butter, tomato relish and baby rocket tartlets (6), Green zucchini and torn mint omelette souffle (V) (6), Fresh green asparagus spears wrapped in goats curd and prosciutto (12), Prawn and Vietnamese mint rice paper rolls with lemongrass and marinated bean thread noodles (8), Char grilled free range chicken marinated in lemon, garlic, coriander, olive oil, bay leaf and cracked pepper (8))
A low carb hamper, this was yet another winner. The seemingly simple chicken was not only complex with layers of flavour, it was also perfectly cooked. The rare roast angus beef tartless were elegant and featured a beautiful depth of flavour - overall a skilfully executed, exceptionally flavoursome array of little bites.
Bagel & Friend
(Smoked salmon poppy seed bagel with crème fraiche and Lilliput capers (15), Baby pea and mint leaf torte (V) (15))
Continuing the trend for the evening, the Bagel & Friend hamper was delicious. The baby pea and mint tortes were creamy and decadent. We also loved the adorable little poppy seed bagels. The smoked salmon filling carried a rich depth of flavour - its subtle smokiness allowing the underlying taste of the salmon to be enjoyed. The little bagels were light and fluffy with a dense exterior - it went well with the salmon. The finishing touch of the crème fraiche and Lilliput capers, a classic accompaniment with smoked salmon, completed the bagels.
This large selection of delicious canapés were perfect for sharing and were massive crowd pleasers. The flavour combinations were well matched and the high quality meats and fish were beautifully cooked - it was clear that these were sourced from quality producers and had been prepared with care.
Egg Hampers made our function a roaring success and definitely impressed our guests. We look forward to trying their other delicious options for our future events.