Robert Burns Hotel is an outstanding Spanish restaurant on Smith Street that is a favourite of many Melbournians. It was a privilege to visit this establishment as a guest for one of their Spanish Regional dinners. We enjoyed Spanish cuisine with enthusiasts from around Melbourne including several professionals at my table from the medical world.
The story goes that the owners wanted to preserve the name of the Robert Burns Hotel with its reference to the famous Scottish poet, but the cuisine is unmistakably Spanish since the 1980s. In fact with Ivan Saiz as the Chef, its authentically Spanish.
Not only was the superb Spanish cuisine a highlight but the enthusiasm of Jose giving us a presentation on Spanish northern region Cantabria was contagious. Before the food was served and in between courses we were treated to a multi media display and talk around the highlights of Cantabria. It all made me feel like getting on a flight to Spain (they should partner with tourist authorities and airlines). We were shown images of stunning beaches, rugged coastline and mountains, and were told fascinating stories about the villages and cities of northern Spain including Santander.
Robert Burns Hotel is known for authenticity (as I also gleaned from fellow diners) and the dishes presented were authentic to Cantabria. The photo at the top of this article shows a tray of tapas that impressed - including Forest mushrooms cream in a shot glass, Blue cheese and walnuts mousse, and Cantabrian anchovy with roasted capsicum. All tapas were top notch - my favourite being the creamy rich blue cheese mousse, but also the Forest mushrooms cream was able to be consumed like a rich soup and hit the high notes. The Spanish know what to do with anchovies and the salt hit complemented the bold roasted capsicum, together with the pleasing crunch of the toast.
Robert Burns Hotel delighted with this rustic traditional Cantabrian Mountain stew with chorizo, pork belly and black pudding. What a trio of meat pleasure! Can it get any more hearty and rustic? My imagination took me to the mountains of Cantabria rugged up near a fire and warming myself with this stew... The sauce for the stew was thick and full of chunky vegetables while the portions of pork, chorizo and black pudding were perfectly cooked and of a decent size. Everyone around me raved about this dish.
Another highlight and my favourite dish was the Hapuka in seafood sauce. Hapuka is a firm and flavoursome fish that is found off the coast of southern Australia as well as Spain. The accompanying prawn, mussels and lobster set of the dish as a celebration of seafood. All with a delightful sauce.
Robert Burns specialises in Spanish Wines, some of which can be ordered for purchase through the Hotel.
Frita leche classic! The dessert has a cold milk-pudding centre encased in a warm and crunchy fried shell- delicioso! And the Rasberry sorbet was a superb accompaniment.
The Spanish Regional Dinner was a fabulous experience and as much a cultural night as a four course dinner.
I highly recommend the Spanish Regional Dinners - the next one being Tuesday 27th August as we take journey to Catalunya! Enjoy a 4-course dining experience with wines to match. Book now, your Spanish education awaits! $79 or $69 for members...
Robert Burns Hotel also offer Express Lunch options during the week for only $12.