“Technique driven, but humble enough to be eaten regularly” is how owner Christian McCabe sums up the food at Melbourne’s The Town Mouse to us. It’s clearly an ethos that runs through the outfit from start to finish; the compact dining room has a high-end gloss to it, but a swishness that’s far from intimidating – the branding too, is stylish, modernist, but friendly, inviting. McCabe’s New Zealand restaurant Matterhorn followed a similarly unpretentious road but, recognised as 2008’s Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year, was highly regarded for its innovation and quality.
Arriving in Melbourne from across the Tasman Sea, McCabe – along with Chef Dave Verheul and partners Jay Comeskey and sister Amber – continues where he left off, with style, expertise and a refreshing approach. The importance of aesthetic appeal is far from lost on the team – from the intimate space (designed by Allistar Cox) through menus, signage and, of course, the food itself; a contemporary leaning on classic sophistication is ever present. Large sharing dishes like crisp beef cheek, whipped white soy cream, black garlic, parsnip & yuzu and steamed diamond shell clams, black mussels, clam bisque, fennel & rosemary are presented with flair and refinement, whilst the emphasis is firmly on communal enjoyment and experience. “Kinda like using the good silver just because you can”, continues McCabe – indeed, when the everyday is this good, who needs special occasions?