I’ve become rather fond of The Two Badgers thanks to the decent grub and friendly staff. Michael David Clay, a young Chef from England is the guy behind it all. Recently setting foot in Melbourne, he’s followed his dream to “serve quality modern food in a relaxed setting” and opened The Two Badgers just a few weeks ago. Brent and some girlfriends joined me for dinner one Thursday to put The Two Badgers to the test. The place was extremely quiet which was expected after being open just a couple of days. We were sat in the ‘snug’ which is made cosy with a handful of pillows spread across the back bench. The girls and I ordered a glass of house wine each while Brent went for a can of Australian Brewery Pale Ale which is currently only available in a handful of Melbourne venues after recently launching in Victoria from home state NSW.
Looking at the menu, I would describe the food as “Modern European with a twist”, with a mix of ingredients you may struggle to find elsewhere. For example, it’s the first time I’ve come across a ‘Manchester Egg salad’ let alone seen it on a menu in Melbourne. For those who aren’t from Northern England and may not know what one is, a Manchester Egg is an egg (in this case a quails egg) wrapped in sausagemeat laced with black pudding and coated in breadcrumbs.
Although this dish intrigued me, I just had to have the picture-perfect Smoked Ocean Trout with roasted beets, crème fraîche and hazelnuts after seeing photos on The Two Badger’s Instagram page. It certainly didn’t disappoint and I loved the taste and texture of the trout which wasn’t too ‘fishy’ like some others I’ve had in the past. I couldn’t quite decide on which main to have and I quite fancied the sound of the tart which was a starter so I asked if I could have the tart as a main, no problem. Again, I was impressed by the caramelised garlic, roasted pumpkin and goats cheese tart which was nicely warmed through keeping a nice crust.
I tried some of the main dishes like Emma’s Salmon & Tamarind Curry which was divine and the 250g grass-fed Black Angus Sirloin steak with braised shallots, mashed potato and chimichurri which was beautifully cooked. I do like my food to look good as well as taste good and every dish met the mark.
We didn’t have dessert that evening but I have since returned to try some of Michael’s sweeter dishes with my favourite being the Vanilla Panna Cotta, Rhubarb Compot & Champagne Jelly.
And I just love the champagne jelly which even has a slight fizz to it, something I’ve never tasted before.
Our bill came with some delicious salted chocolate truffles which Michael made himself. This is what I love about The Two Badgers, everything is made from scratch in the kitchen. From the tomato sauce to the home-cured maple salmon, nothing is from a packet.
Michael has become a good friend of mine and he practically lives in his kitchen to ensure his food is served just the way he likes it. Inspired by English restauraneur Rose Grey, the food at The Two Badger’s is more in line with Michelin starred Tom Kerridge in being “quality pub grub”.
What doesn’t look much from the exterior, there’s a magical feast to be had at The Two Badgers. Now splitting my time between North and South of the Yarra, I’ve been to a fair few restaurants in St Kilda which usually consist of informal tapas-style dining, pizza or burgers. It’s always nice to try somewhere new in the area and there’s currently nothing quite like The Two Badgers nearby. As much as I wish Michael and the team every success, a small part of me hopes The Two Badgers remains one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets.
Ambience – 7
Value – 8
Quality – 9
Returnability – of course! I took my parents here when they came over and they loved it also
Living life, loving Melbourne’s hidden gems,