My friend Jen and I had scored $20 each way tickets from Sydney to Melbourne with Jetstar. I won’t review the flight to Melbourne as it was pretty perfunctory. When we arrive late on a Tuesday afternoon (yes – you will usually get the best fares on a Tuesday) we check into the Grand Chancellor Hotel. We then head to the Young & Jackson Hotel where I have made a booking for dinner.
The Young & Jackson hotel is probably in one of the most prominent spots in the Melbourne CBD, located opposite Flinders Street Station at 1 Swanston Street. It’s history dating back to the early 19th century. Who the heck is Chloe you ask? I will explain later.
Located in Naarm, the traditional Indigenous lands of the Kulin Nation, the site of the hotel was first purchased by John Batman who is a modern founding father of Melbourne. In 1861 John Toohey and his brother – yes of Tooheys Beer fame – opened the hotel naming it the Princes Bridge Hotel. In 1875 cousins Henry Young and Thomas Jackson who were Irish gold diggers bought it. The location and history is great but we are really here to dine with Chloe… Who is Chloe?
Chloe’s Rooms bar & Brasserie on level one of the Young & Jackson Hotel. Service is really friendly and we are escorted to a table in the main dining room. The staff are semi-formal but are comfortable to have a joke and we get on well.
Bread is complimentary and we order a bottle of wine. We’re both a bit hungry after our flight and transfer so we do what we know we shouldn’t and start filling up on the bread. It’s baked in house and delicious, even better when dipped into the olive oil and balsamic served on the side. We decide we wont get entree’s and head straight into the mains.
Jen orders the 250g rump steak – rare to medium – with mash and buttered vegetables. She can’t decide on which sauce so asks if its ok to have two and they happily comply. Jen thinks the steak is amazing and the vegetables are done well. The pepper sauce is the winner of the two sauces as the red wine jus tastes burnt. I try some of the jus and yes definitely left on the burner too long. Jen mentions this to the waiter who speaks with the chef. They offer and apology and agree yes it has a burnt taste. Not to worry Jen, has the pepper sauce and sings praises of the rest of the meal.
I order the spiced kangaroo, charred to rare with kipfler potato, roquette, labna and bush tomato. I know what you’re thinking – how could I eat kangaroo? Our national animal which features on the national emblem? Easy – with a knife and fork. The kangaroo is delicious. Generally cooked quite rare, this was just to my liking. Crispy charred bits on the outside and soft in the middle. The labna (Greek yoghurt cheese) and the bush tomatoes are a great accompaniment to the meat. The dish is heavy on the potato side, in fact I have never seen kipflers so big and I struggle to finish them all.
Oh and by the way – it’s a myth that Australia is the only country to eat its national animal on their emblem – Finland is one example eating the Brown Bear. And several other countries eat their national animal… USA – Buffalo, Monaco – Rabbit, Spain – Bulls, Denmark – Swan….
So where and who is Chloe?
This is Chloe, an exquisite life size work. Oil on canvas painted in 1875 by Parisian Joseph Lefebvre. The painting was exhibited in the Paris Salon Exhibition of the same year, and won the Gold Prize.
The model was a young 19 year old Parisian named Marie who, sadly suicided some two years after the picture was painted. Apparently she spent the last of her money on poisonous matches, boiled them up and drank them, all due to unrequited love.
In 1879, it was transferred to Sydney for the Sydney Exhibition and then to Melbourne in 1880 for the Melbourne Exhibition where it won the Gold Prize in both cities. In 1883 the National Gallery of Victoria decided to exhibit Chloe however there was outrage from the general public. The sight of a nude was considered not suitable for the times. In 1909 Henry Young purchased the painting and hung it in the hotel. The painting is a much celebrated piece of art throughout Melbourne. Can you imagine the history this painting has seen at the hotel?
Food, art and history – just some of wonderful reasons why I love to travel.
MattySomewhere and Jen paid for their meal independently. Some links in this story may serve as affiliate links where MattySomewhere may earn a very small commission at no extra cost to you.