Craving for Polenta – The Mess Hall

Dear Readers, I’m currently going through another food crave and this time the victim is ‘Polenta’ not sure what started but all of a sudden I have constant cravings for it! In cakes, part of a dish or chips everything and anything with polenta I want it! Hahaha you don’t need to be too worried about me, I go through many phases every year actually every month, soon enough I’ll get over it :D

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So in my quest for the best polenta dishes in Melbourne, I turned to Twitter and asked my dear friends ~ There were a few suggestions Libby (The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar), Ash (Im So Hungree) and Amy (Melbourne Food Snob) all suggested The Mess Hall on Bourke St. I haven’t heard of it before nor visited but realized that it was one of those oldie but goodie restaurants that have been around for quite a few years.

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Initially wanted to catch up with Libby and Ash as well, but seems like April is a busy month, so Amy and I caught up with our partners :) The boys start off with a drink, a Gypsy Pear cider for Mr Bao ($8.5), he’s really into ciders lately which is fine because I prefer it much more than beer ~ It’s quite light tasting and not too sweet for him.

Gypsy Pear Cider $8

Gypsy Pear Cider $8

First thing we ordered was the polenta chips with parmesan and roasted garlic aioli. I couldn’t withhold my excitement when i saw these golden fingers! I took a polenta chip smeared a thick layer of garlic aioli over it and immediately popped it into my mouth. But unfortunately, it didn’t have the ‘crunch’ factor I was longing for… it didn’t feel very hot either like they had pre-fried them but flavours were great not too salty or bland. A shame as I’ve heard that the chips are usually piping hot and super crunchy :(

Polenta chips with parmesan, herbs and roasted garlic aioli $9.5

Polenta chips with parmesan, herbs and roasted garlic aioli $9.

Another starter was the arancini with herb mayo they were super tasty with blue cheese filling inside as well, but the risotto was a little hard in my opinion. But I’ve heard that traditionally there should be a bit to risotto and I assume with arancinis as well ~

Arancini with herb mayo $12.5

Arancini with herb mayo $12.5

Moving onto something more substantial the Bianca pizza with pumpkin, potato, goats cheese, buffalo mozzerella and sage. I liked the flavours of the toppings, especially the pumpkin and goats cheese was such a nice combination, however, I found the pizza dough to be too thick and dense, not exactly what I expected.

Bianca pizza with pumpkin, potato, goat's cheese, buffalo mozzerella and sage $17.5

Bianca pizza with pumpkin, potato, goat’s cheese, buffalo mozzerella and sage $17.5

I’ve actually never had Gnocchi alla romana which is a variation of gnocchi which is made out of semolina instead of potato. I don’t really know the difference between semolina and polenta because they taste quite similar to me, and I loved it! especially with the prosciutto and smoked mozzerella love that bouncy texture. After all that polenta I’m still not satisfied think I’m going to have to buy some and make it at home :)

Gnocchi alla romana wrapped with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto on minted zucchini $22.5

Gnocchi alla romana wrapped with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto on minted zucchini $22.5

I love how Amy is a dessert lover as well, I quote “It’s not a review without dessert”, I couldn’t agree with her more! So we ordered 3 desserts to share, starting with the Tiramisu which came in a small coffee cup. We were quite impressed with the tiramisu as it had strong coffee flavours without being to over powering and the mascarpone cheese was very smooth. It also wasn’t very sweet so perfect for those who like a lighter tasting dessert ~

Tiramisu $12.5

Tiramisu $12.5

Next up was the Sticky Date Pudding Bob (Amy’s partner) wanted to order, I already had a sticky date pudding that day at Red Cup Cafe, but who said one can’t have more than one puddings in a day :P This sticky date had a texture more like a cake than a pudding, and I found it a little dry. But really liked the mascarpone cream and think it’s better than regular whipped cream ~

Sticky Date Pudding with mascarpone cream $11.5

Sticky Date Pudding with mascarpone cream $11.5

Was surprised when Mr Bao initiated that he’d like to try the Nutella Calzone, he doesn’t normally ask for desserts. For those not familiar with calzones they are like folded pizzas and can be hand held, to me like an Italian sandwich made out of pizza dough with the toppings enclosed inside instead. They can be made savoury or sweet, and this one had a generous amount of Nutella in the filling and vanilla ice-cream on the side. I can’t complain about the Nutella or ice-cream because they’re both my favourite :) but once again I found the dough to be a little thick and too doughy, it would have been the perfect dessert if it was not for the dough.

Nutella Calzone with vanilla ice-cream $12.5

Nutella Calzone with vanilla ice-cream $12.5

Overall, it was a pleasant meal at The Mess Hall, we found some dishes to be hit and miss for instance, the arancini were great, while the dough for the pizza and calzone to be a little thick. But I am still going to come back and try the polenta chips again as I have been told that they are generally very fresh crispy and maybe I just went on a busy night :) If you’re looking for a casual restaurant to catch up in the CBD, The Mess Hall is a good choice especially since they open all day from breakfast till late ~

The Mess Hall on Urbanspoon

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21 thoughts on “Craving for Polenta – The Mess Hall

  1. ironchefshellie April 26, 2013 at 9:30 am Reply

    Sticky date def looks a bit dry, and the calzone a bit too doughy :(

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm Reply

      Prob not the best italian desserts I’ve had :( Think it’s time I went back to Grosvenor Hotel :P

  2. Miss Piggy April 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm Reply

    I read about this place on another Melbourne blog recently and I think it looks really good. I LOVE Polenta Chips. If you ever get up here to Jamie’s Italian they do EPIC Polenta Chips.

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm Reply

      I’d love to go to Jamie’s Italian! I haven’t had the chance even though I go to Sydney quite a bit :) Can’t wait to go and try the polenta chips thanks for the tip hehe

  3. Bam's Kitchen (@bamskitchen) April 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm Reply

    The idea of making our own polenta chips is a great idea. Have you made them at home before?

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:34 pm Reply

      I haven’t tried but think I really should :) Because I heard it’s not that hard ~ Do you have a recipe you recommend?

  4. hotlyspiced April 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm Reply

    Those aronchini balls look amazing as do the polenta chips. I would love to try this place – it looks like they have some wonderful dishes xx

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:34 pm Reply

      Most dishes were great only some hit and misses :) Can’t wait to try another place for amazing polenta chips hehe xox

  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 27, 2013 at 12:32 am Reply

    I wonder if it’s because of the colder weather? I’m feeling like potatoes and polenta. Daisy have you tried polenta alla spianatora? It’s so much fun to do for a dinner party and it’s really easy.There’s a recipe on my blog if you want to take a peek at it ;)

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:43 pm Reply

      Yes!!! I’ve seen that recipe on your blog and have been meaning to try just haven’t gotten around to it hehe too many recipes that I want to try from your blog :D

  6. viveka April 27, 2013 at 6:41 am Reply

    Polenta chips with parmesan – I would fancy … looking at your photos, I don’t see any atmosphere what so ever … could be sitting in a hospital cafeteria. Even if a causal restaurant that could be details. Once again fantastic review. You are .. made for this. Enjoy your weekend.

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm Reply

      Thank you Viveka :) The atmosphere wasn’t really that bad, it was just really noisy but it’s ok hehe makes it more lively. I’m definitely into polenta chips but hard to find good ones ~

  7. Hannah April 27, 2013 at 10:02 am Reply

    This post makes me crave my family’s Indian Corn Pudding desserts, which is like a steamed cornmeal pudding with a base of maple syrup… mmm…

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm Reply

      Hahhaa why would it make you crave Indian corn pudding? hehe so strange but I’ve never had steamed cornmeal pudding before :)

  8. Catherine April 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm Reply

    Shame about the polenta seeing as you went there especially for it!

    • Daisy@Nevertoosweet April 28, 2013 at 11:46 pm Reply

      Definitely a shame :( do you know anywhere I can get polenta chips?

  9. Ames April 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm Reply

    Ah near work – I’ll definitely give it a go :)

  10. GourmetGetaways (@GourmetGetaway) May 1, 2013 at 9:17 pm Reply

    Oh I love the look of the polenta fries and the arancini balls, I would visit here for those things alone, shae about the pizza dough and calzone…

  11. Sarah May 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Such a shame that the polenta chips were disappointing! I’ve been to the Mess Hall a couple of times – you’re right, it’s an oldie but a goodie! – but never tried the entrees. We had a dessert once (chiffon cake) that was a bit disappointing. Usually I find that the pastas/risottos are very good! :)

  12. april June 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm Reply

    try the city wine shop for polenta chips. they are excellent

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