I worked in Carlton for 3 years and used to know it well, but that was nearly 3 years ago. Despite its wealth and style, I get the impression that Carlton has lost some of its cool. Compared to Fitzroy and Brunswick, where bloggers document the street art and review every new cafe within days of them opening, Carlton is significantly underblogged although there is much to write about and review.
I knew that a bar called Markov Place had opened behind the cleanskin wine shop on Drummond St, but despite buying wine there regularly I never went to the bar. Then I started working in the city and the wine shop stopped stocking an amazing Victorian Durif, so I stopped going there.
Recently I read the Words and Flavours review of Markov Place and put it back on my mental list of places to visit. It’s the only blog review review I can find, though the Age has reviewed it here and here. An exceptional dinner there recently with my girlfriend convinced me that Markov Place is possibly the best bar restaurant in Carlton, and the full room on a Wednesday night indicated that it is not a secret.
We started with glasses of Spanish AlbariÃ±o and Verdejo, and ordered some small dishes to share. Below are the eggplant and anchovy bruschetta (the board is drizzled with golden syrup), the scallops with spinach and garlic, the eggplant fritters (containing sultanas and goat’s curd) and the calamari salad. These dishes were all wonderful – flavoursome with very fresh ingredients.
We finished the meal by sharing a serve of the St Agur French blue cheese, which comes in a generous serve with quince paste and dried muscat grapes. Like Words and Flavours, we were highly impressed with the service. Questions about ingredients and whether the wines had been oaked (we had guessed correctly yes for the AlbariÃ±o and no for the Verdejo) were easily answered and there was no attitude, unlike some comparable city places. At $100 for everything described here, it is also good value given the quality of the food and service. Markov is a delight and we will be back.