Hercules Morse, South Melbourne
For our publisher lunch this week (so rare!) I was keen to check out Hercules Morse, a modern tapas-type affair on Clarendon Street. Menu looked good and the reviews were positive. The food was universally amazing but the cocky service and agonising wait times between courses left a heavy sour note in our mouthes. We were told only one staff member ran the kitchen and she can only cook one dish, one table at a time. We got hungrier as we got more full and we ended up having to forego the dessert course due to the anticipated additional wait time. The worst!
On this lunch occasion we were the first group to arrive for a sitting and it never get ridiculously busy with four groups max. We ordered a mix of most of the menu, because we wanted it all. Navigating all the groups’ eating preferences (hashtag modern life) took some brainpower but we managed in spite of the somewhat narrow menu options.
First to arrive was the Cheesy puds, three of these were filled with proscuitto goats cheese and the other three were goats cheese olive. These were a firm, delicious bite. This was followed up quickly with the Bacorn, crispy strips of corn with smokey bacon salt. Although somewhat small, the slice of corn packed a punch with the seasoning highly addictive without being salty. Cheese and cauliflower balls were great, as was the Morse chip butty with was oozing with the an aromatic and truffle-y butter. Super lipid but oh so good. I think I spied actual truffle shavings too.
After this we had a terrible hiatus where no food arrived for the next thirty minutes. Guessing this was down to the addition of a few more guests in the restaurant but it wasn’t articulated nor did the service staff feel even remotely apologetic. The barley and mushroom risotto was well seasoned with a buttery richness. Poor Jenny had to wait for this dish before she could even eat but luckily it was a winner. Luckily we also had the rose. The roasted beet salad with dehydrated feta, maple walnuts and roquette pesto was a little more ordinary, if it wasn’t for the amazing candied walnuts bringing up the dish.
The final dish to arrive (since we couldn’t wait for dessert) was the duck neck sausage served on fennel and sour cherry lentils with duck-cider jus. None of us really knew what we were eating but the three that did were impressed with the dish, well balanced with the sweetness of the base. Very good food for sure. Not sure I’d entirely recommend going though, unless there’s another person on in the kitchen, seems a bit of a cop out to let customers suffer a poorer lunch experience in the wait times.
8.5/10 (but for service, like 4/10)