Mr M and I recently visited Next Door Diner for a Friday night date. Next Door Diner has been on my to visit list for ages. It has a great pedigree in that it is owned and run by the team behind the Breakfast Club (which I loved), and which is located next door (get it?).
The space is warm and a bit dark, perfect for “date night”. It was relaxed and comfortable and surprisingly, not too loud, given all the hard surfaces.
Everything at Next Door Diner is meant for sharing and the menu is divided into small, large and side dishes. Small dishes veer from crispy chicken wingettes ($8 for 3) to veal and sauerkraut ($7.50) to artichoke barigoule with mussels ($14). Larger dishes include wild barramundi cooked in paper ($22) and free range chicken ($20).
After discussions with our waitress, we went for one small dish, two large dishes and two side dishes. To start, local spicy sausage with celery, endive and shanklish ($16):
The sausage was indeed spicy (as advertised) and the shanklish provided a nice rich, creaminess to offset the heat.
Next, we shared the pork cheek with soft egg, green sauce and toast ($18):
The pork was soft and incredibly tender. There was a nice acidity to the green sauce and the egg was perfectly cooked and oozed its yolk all over the toast.
Our other ‘main’ dish was the Plains Paddock lamb ($26.50):
This beautiful piece of meat sat atop pearl barley, which was studded with anchovies, spinach and pork lardon. A rich lamb sauce covered the barley and the anchovy was quite subtle (a win for me, as I am not a huge anchovy fan – despite Mr M’s best efforts).
Our side dishes arrived, a special which was an ‘ancient grain’ salad and organic dutch cream potatoes with rosemary salt ($8.50):
I was super excited about the ancient grain salad as I am always on the look out for interesting uses of alternative grains. The salad had quinoa, freekah and buckwheat and was topped with thin slivers of pork fat and cheese. I liked the nuttiness of the grains coupled with the richness of the pork. It is on my to-do list to combine grains in more interesting ways, so this was some delicious inspiration. The potatoes were crunchy little morsels of heaven.
The only criticism of our meal was that it was quite filling with all the grains (in the salad and served with the lamb) coupled with the potatoes – although this really came down to our choices. A better choice of second side dish would have been something lighter like a garden salad ($8) or slow roasted beetroot with walnuts and goats cheese ($10).
Despite our fullness, we found some room for dessert (and I’m glad we did!). Desserts include pear & date frangipane tart, which is made to order ($11), warm cinnamon doghnuts with vanilla sauce and apple sauce ($10) and an impressive selection of local cheeses – Donnybrook Pastorello, Tarago River Triple Cream and Gippsland Blue. I had to order the chocolate mousse with prosecco poached rhubarb ($12):
So gorgeous! The prosecco laced rhubarb was quite tart, providing a perfect backdrop to the rich and silky mousse.
All in all, a great night out. Friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere and great food. I can’t wait to go back!
Next door diner
204 St Georges Rd, Northcote
Ph: (03) 9939 1350