I think I’m quite the unusual blogger. I don’t normally post about a restaurant for a few weeks after the trip, normally so I can thoroughly think about all the aspects before I make a judgement and place it online. However, today is an exception – last night A and I headed to The Classroom for the birthday celebrations of a friend. It was one of the most exciting meals I’ve had in a while and it’s made me want to spread the word.
I was pretty lucky in high school to enjoy my school years. I had my fair share of bullying, which I assume the majority of kids go through and it was mostly due to my lack of ‘regular’ sandwiches and weird ‘ethnic’ food that no-one was used to. Regardless, I found my groove from about year 11 and had two awesome years of high school with good friends, good teachers and a strange sense of freedom. Due to these two years, I only have good memories of high school – which all come flooding back last night at The Classroom.
My first point of recall was the venue – the walls are plastered in school memorabilia, from sharpeners, to tiny school bags, to protractors and pencils on the tables – the venue was like stepping into a timewarp. A kitch timewarp, but it was also very fun and allowed you to interact with the items. The second point of recall was the music – I was a HUGE Beastie Boys fan in high school and The Classroom were playing a few Beastie Boys’ classic tracks as well as other stuff I grew up on like The Chemical Brothers. The third point of recall was the TV screen, which played ET, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Stand By Me – all 80′s classics that I remember from from my school years.
It took me a while to take the surroundings in. It is sensory overload and you’ll find signs, books, chalkboards and lamps that all take you back to your school years. After I took it all in, A and I headed to the bar for a drink. The bar setup looks amazing, with the wall of bottles framed in old lockers. The drinks menus are pasted into old-school exercise books and the menu is quite extensive. The cocktails are split into three sections – History, Science and Art and each cocktail sounds amazing. The cocktails mentioned in the history section were old favourites (such as martini’s, whiskey sours, and Moscow mules). The scientific cocktails all had a bit of experimenting and scientific basis, for example the LNO2 Espresso Martini and the ‘Bunsen After Burner’, which both use different elements of chemistry and science in their creation (more on those cocktails later). The art cocktails are pretty to look at and showcase The Classroom’s creative flair and technique. However, if cocktails aren’t your thing, The Classroom has a magnificent wine list which showcases wines from Australia and beyond, as well as their comprehensive spirit and boutique beer list.
For my first drink of the night, I ordered a glass of bubbles (Perelada Brut Reserva NV Penedes, ESP ($9.50)) and A ordered a Lime Soda. My Perelada Brut sparkling was delicious and was topped to the brim (an added bonus!) A particularly liked her lime soda, as The Classroom use fresh lime juice instead of lime cordial and serve it with fresh lime wedges.
The food menu is set out like a school canteen order slip, which you may remember from your school days and those brown paper bags. Once you place your order at the bar, you’ll pick it up at the canteen out back on little trays. The menu is a modern spin of the usual school classics, such as sausage rolls, crinkle cut chips and jam donuts and The Classroom recommends to share each dish. I was happy to see the menu mentioning vegetarian friendly dishes as well as gluten free dishes, for those who have dietary restrictions. For the food, Ness did the majority of the ordering for the two tables and it has to be said that she ordered well (thanks Ness!). The plates came out gradually throughout the night and our first dishes were the Pork Sausage Rolls with fennel & apple, served with apricot chutney ($14) and the Szechuan Pepper Squid with compressed watermelon and nam-jim dressing ($16).
The Sausage Rolls were really good. The pork, fennel and apple went really well together and the pastry was crisp and light. I didn’t get the chance to try the Szechuan Pepper Squid with compressed watermelon and nam-jim dressing, however I did overhear a few of the girls say that it was really good and a ‘must-try’!
At this point, TBG’s (aka the birthday girl) drink was empty so she headed up the bar to order another. I followed suit, seeing as though she was about to order an Espresso Martini and I had heard a lot about The Classroom’s methodology of mixing this drink. Similar to a science experiment, the martini is made with liquid nitrogen. It was a spectacle to watch and made TBG and I giddy with joy (just like two little school kids!). TBG assured me that it was “amazing”, which wasn’t surprising as it is made with fresh pressed Darkstar Espresso, The Classroom’s Espresso mix, liquid nitrogen, mascarpone sherry foam and shaved chocolate.
By this stage, a few more dishes arrived to our table, including Hand-cut Crinkle Chips with sumac dusting & chipotle aioli ($8) as well as the Zucchini Fritters with cucumber & feta whip ($12). The Hand-cut Crinkle Chips came out in the old-school red and yellow containers and were accompanied by a lovely chipotle aioli that was too tasty to resist drowning the chip in. The Zucchini Fritters were interesting in flavour but I wasn’t sure what school canteen item these were replicating. Still, a worthy choice and a tasty vegetarian friendly option.
It was time for me to order another drink at the bar. I was heading for water or a non-alcoholic beverage however when Ness and I went up to the bar to order, one of the staff was making another customer a mojito with lots of fresh mint and lime. I momentarily forgot about my non-alcoholic beverage of choice and ordered a mojito as well. The girl behind the bar asked if I wanted it sweet or traditional, so I went with the traditional. It was really good to have the option, as it wasn’t overly sweet and was strong in flavour.
There were two other drinks that caught my eye for the night. Our friend Kate came back from the bar with a beautiful looking cocktail in a martini glass, which I believe was the “Ms White: The Art Teacher” cocktail ($18), made with West Winds Gin, Elderflower liqueur, Cointreau, fresh pressed lemon and served with edible paint in your choice of colour. This cocktail tasted similar to a Japanese Slipper and I can’t wait to order this cocktail when I return, as Kate was kind enough to let me try it and it tastes amazing! It’s quite sour but very distinctive in taste. Another friend, Soph, ordered the Moscow mule ($18) which was made with Smirnoff Black Small Batch Vodka, house-made ginger beer, fresh pressed lime and was served in a copper mug.
The next dish that arrived to the table was the Serrano Jamon, fresh figs, in-house ricotta & balsamic pearls ($16). TBG was quick to add that the balsamic pearls are amazing so I hurried to try one. They were tiny little balls that as soon as you pop in your mouth rapture and give you a burst of balsamic. My eyes widened and I happily attacked the rest of the dish, wanting to try the combination of all four flavours. The fresh figs were beautiful in taste and went really well with the ricotta and serrano jamon (dry-cured Spanish ham). A lovely plate with fresh ingredients and a lot of flavour!
The Chermoula Chicken Drumsticks with roasted sweet potato & eggplant, served with zesty yoghurt ($17) was another dish with lots of flavour. The Charmoula seasoning gave the chicken a Morrocan flavour that was perfect with the zesty yoghurt.
The dish of the night however was the Bourbon Beef Short Ribs (cooked for four hours) with smoked salt & chilli pineapple wedges ($17 small or $32 large). The ribs were full of meat and were cooked to the point were they still had there texture but were soft to chew. The dipping sauce was smokey and the chilli pineapple wedges went amazingly well with the ribs. It was hard to say no to an offering of seconds and both A and I will be ordering this again when we return.
TBG was due another drink by this stage and she was smart enough to order the ‘Bunsen After Burner’ cocktail ($20). The Classroom use the typical bunsen burner to caramelise fresh bananas before adding them to the cocktail. This unique cocktail consists of Chairmans’ Spiced Rum, bunsen-burned bananas, fresh pressed lime, maple syrup, and smoky bitters. We had smelt the bananas being caramelised earlier in the night and it smelt delicious. TBG was kind enough to let A and I try it and it tasted like liquid gold! It was full of banana and butterscotch flavours but with a hint of a smokey flavour. It came in a cute little glass that looked like a jar and A has said that this will be the drink she orders when we return.
In a few words, I can tell you that I fell in love with The Classroom last night. The venue, the setup, the food and cocktails were amazing. The service was friendly and efficient and the vibe is upbeat. The place will appeal to those who have been out of school for a while and are interested in unleashing their child-like qualities for the night, such as doodling in exercise books and passing notes between tables. It’s a really fun venue that will make you smile no matter how old or young you are. It’s enjoyable and definitely worth the try. As you can see from above, A and I were already talking about our return and what we’ll be ordering!