Hercules Morse on Clarendon Street in South Melbourne is definitely one of the highlights on the strip. Offering a variety of small tapas dishes to share, this quaint (or really just small) venue, which has the odd 'interesting' choice in decorative pieces, still manages to ooze family-owned charm.
On this occasion we couldn't go past the cheesy puds, 'bacorn', cauliflower and cheese balls, crispy spiced chicken ribs, pressed lamb shoulder, black angus tartare, prawn tortellini and salted peanut butter parfait (which I promise, wasn't quite the entire menu). The highlight of the menu had to be the black angus tartare with horseradish crème fraiche and seasoned yolk - it was well balanced in flavour and the meat just melted in the mouth. The crisps were also a nice twist on the packet crackers that are usually served with this dish by many other restaurants.
The cauliflower and cheese balls with lemon rosemary salt and Dijon mayo, the prawn tortellini with crushed peas and shellfish bisque sauce, and the pressed lamb shoulder with soured red cabbage, parmesan custard and date puree were also all delicious items which were hard to flaw.
The lowlight of the night, however, had to be the cheesy puds piped with prosciutto goats cheese and black olive goats cheese. There were definitely some nice flavours there, but they came out luke warm and slightly stodgy. The 'bacorn', which was stripes of fried sweet corn dusted in smokey bacon salt, also carried nice flavours, but was on the dry side and needed to be served with a dash of lime or squeeze of sauce.
No matter how good some of the savoury items are, make sure you save room for the salted peanut butter parfait with brulee banana and butterscotch sauce - absolutely magnificent.
For what appears to be a one man show running the floor, I was surprised that our wine glasses were always full and our plates never empty - that being said, there were only 3 tables full in the whole restaurant, so it would be interesting to see how they go with a bigger crowd. But at least on the night I went, it was an enjoyable experience with some incredibly delicious food.
Verdict: love - get around to trying it soon