Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Southbank

The brand of Heston conjures up visions of amazement, mystery and admiration. It’s safe to say we had all those qualities in droves over our time at Dinner by Heston. Nothing short of extraordinary and a perfect way to see out my final week in Australia. Dinner sits atop of the highest rated restaurants in Zomato Melbourne (at the time of writing). Those ratings are justified from service perfection and a top class menu with surprising restraint. All dishes are clever, with well-thought out flavours and are beautifully composed. If you’re already sold on going, do yourself a favour and avert your eyes from the reviews and pics. Half the delight is approaching the occasion and surprises for yourself, in the moment. More than a mere meal, Dinner is a wallet-heavy but worthwhile escape into a spectacular dining occasion.

hestonmeatfruit

Joining me on this semi-final gastronomic delight were my friends Jenny and Katherine and we started off with some cocktails at the bar. Strong. Tasty. Effective. Getting to the venue is one thing – there’s a sense of magic strolling through the dark hallway and mirrored doors. Don’t run! We made our way to the table and mulled over the menu. There’s some gratis bread that starts you off – awesome bread of course, and a good ratio of butter. We couldn’t go past the Meat Fruit ($38), Heston’s trademark appetiser. Here, a mandarin gel coats chicken liver parfait and is served with smoked, grilled bread. The parfait – rich, creamy, delectable and we got some bonus bread to keep the good times going. The slight mandarin taste adds a fruity, sweet dimension to cut through the richness of the livers.

heston-salamagundy

The allergies at the table were well catered for, and coincidentally, resulted in the best looking dishes of the night. Jenny’s beetroot-substituted Salamagundy ($37), with braised radish, horseradish cream, marrowbone and pickled walnuts. I had a sample of the cream and it was heavenly.

heston-riceflesh

I can’t have been in Australia and not ever tried kangaroo, right? I seized up my opportunity with the Rice & Flesh ($38), with saffron, curried kangaroo tail, red wine and amaranth. Tail isn’t certainly a cut I would normally veer towards but here it’s used sparingly to highlight the creamy, constant saffron notes in the rice. The sauce is delightful with bold, authentic saffron flavours.

heston-porkbelly

Mains. First up was the Slow cooked pork belly ($58) with spelt, lardo, baby turnip and Robert sauce. Strong, savoury notes with the sauce adding lots of interesting flavours. Cooked to perfection and composed to a T. Katherine and I shared this and the duck very easily with both dishes being served in two pieces. I generally prefer my crackling golden and crunchy but was happy with the compromise here as the slow cooking made the meat oh-so-tender without the fatty aftertaste that normally comes with the cut.

heston-cobia

Roast Cobia & Green Sauce ($60) was Jenny’s main. The cobia was served with braised chicory, clams, parsley, pepper, onion and eucalyptus. I love the little Australian touches in the menu which are evident in this dish and a few others. Our server mentioned the menu changes very slightly over seasons, as each new addition goes through a lengthy vetting process including the London operation.

heston-duckbreast

We weren’t sure what would arrive when we had ordered Powdered duck breast ($58). Maybe a jar of duck dust? But this isn’t The Fat Duck, it’s Dinner so everything is less experimental but just as successful. And by the way, if in doubt your server is more than happy to detail any of the menu to you as well as make recommendations. Some customers do come expecting the Willy Wonka-esque feats of Heston and that’s certainly not the case, at least in this establishment. The duck was perfectly cooked and seasoned but my highlight is interestingly, in the red cabbage. The slight sweetening and acidity really make it stand out. There was also a few vege options on the menu, so perhaps there is some magic in that.

heston-tipsycake

Before our dessert course we had a mini-tour around the kitchen. From start to finish (and beyond!) our server Cameron was amazing in making sure we were well attended to and was more than happy to answer our questions on the place. Standout service and I can’t say I’ve had any better, ever! So full props to the front of house. The first dessert was the one we had recommended from friends, the Tipsy cake ($32). Upon entering the venue the first thing you will spot in the kitchen is the curious, colourful rotating pineapples that form this dish. The cake is freshly baked and served with a slice of the spit roasted pineapple. Cake: fluffy, warm, indulgent. Pineapple: well soaked in delicious basting and the sweetness combos well with the cake.

heston-eggsverjuicecrack

If you’ve watched the final of Masterchef Australia you’ll recognise the Eggs in Verjuice. Coconut pannacotta, coffee parfait, verjuice and citrus yolk is encase in chocolate and on top of a candy nest. It’s a 100 step recipe with a similar amount of ingredients so this little wonder has a lot of work in it. We could appreciate the technical mastery but it wasn’t as much of a standout for us, the flavours felt a bit more muddled with a lot going on.

heston-taffetytart

We spoiled ourselves ordering one more dessert in the form of the Taffety tart ($30). The tart is formed of a caramelised apple, wattle seed biscuit, Eucalyptus, fennel and the sorbet is a rich blackcurrant. We were more impressed with this one with the sorbet packing in more flavour that we could imagine. One little bite tastes like a concentration of a basket of berries. The tart is beautiful and composed of a great mix of crunch, cream and sweetness. There is also one bonus dessert item in the chocolate ganache with cookies which was another pleasant end to a long evening. We were so glad we checked out Dinner by Heston. Fabulous service, impressive food and a most memorable evening.

9.5/10

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Bistro Guillaume, Southbank

My final work lunch of the 2016 year was at Bistro Guillaume, a handy spot with a vista including the ever tranquil Yarra River. We had a big group and a big appetite and both were taken care of over our experience. You can expect expensive, but quality French cuisine in an upmarket and corporate-feeling environment. Rich, creative, comforting are key words to describe the food on offer. The dessert, pork belly and duck confit I had all fit the bill. Service was functional but not forgiving if you did the injustice of mispronouncing a menu item. Decent food but you certainly pay for it, as well as the lovely view.

bistrosouffle.jpg

Bistro Guillaume is part of Crown Casino and is an easy walk from any of the taxi ranks. We had a nice table in the centre of the restaurant with a glass ceiling casting a comfortable amount of natural light. After a drink or two, we put through our orders and although there was a considerable wait, as we were a crowd that was understandable. Our host had oddly, limited our ordering initially to two courses (budgets lol), so naturally, I ordered three. My entree was the twice baked soufflé ($18) worth Roquefort sauce. This had a delightful bounciness and was a cheesy start to things. The sauce had the spicy piquancy that would expect from this kind of cheese. The side salad was random, and also the salad side orders were average.

bistrosteak

The next round, of the mains, took a bit more time but we were plenty exciting when they arrived. Anthony had the steak frites ($42) with béarnaise sauce. It’s a dish that lived up it’s price tag, with a large serve of perfectly cooked steak. Lucy and I shared our two mains, the first being the duck confit ($40) with peas, shallots and lardons. The kitchen did an awesome job co-ordinating all the dishes coming out together. Here we enjoyed our crispy leg of duck with a balanced tasting base of the peas and salty pork. The size of the duck and the next main were on the small side, so it remains a costly exercise to get full.

bistroduck

Onto my choice. Which was of course, the Berkshire pork belly ($38) with Du Poy Lentils and vegetables. This was a tasty slice of belly with a guilt-ridden crunch and a subtle sweetness. Compared to other pork bellies I’ve enjoyed around Melbourne the taste does rank well, but the size is heaps less. Especially for a main. At almost forty dollars for a 4x10cm piece. Not that I even measure normally. We had plenty of fries and paris mash on the table and these were gourmet and filling. Potatoes always do the job so I wasn’t hungry by any means.

bistroporkbelly

I assume we had a break, before we dove into the inevitable third course (lol). It’s dessert. I ordered the Mille-feuille ($16) and was mildly offended when the staff felt the need to correct me. Eh it’s is French. What wasn’t offensive was the final dish. This was a surprising modern take of the classic dessert with the layers conveying all the right flavours and textures. I enjoyed the crispy, buttery pastry with the dots of chocolate ganache and cream adding a delightful sweetness to it all.

bistromiellefielle

I stole one of Ash’s profiteroles ($16) with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. The theatre of the dish is nice, but it didn’t really do anything for me with the profiterole not tasting completely fresh and the vanilla ice-cream being WAY too frozen. It’s like when you accidentally leave something at the back of the freezer cold. It made for an uncomfortable bite and that sauce didn’t achieve much. I also stole a bite of Georgina’s brulee and that was plenty yum and more as expected.

bitroprofiteroles

Coffees finished the afternoon and these were quite good actually. I liked the matching macaron, a cute touch. At Bistro Guillaume some hits, some misses. When it’s great the food from the kitchen is some memorable stuff. Though I can’t helping shaking the corporate crowd (us included!) and there might be better French around for this price tag.

bistrocoffee
Note: cup was all dirty before it got to me, eek. Good brew tho

7/10

Bistro Guillaume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Merrywell, Southbank

My tram always goes past this place as well as myself when I am recovering from my gambling addiction. The windows of the Merrywell proclaim some burger award from some era so of course it’s going to get a look in. By the way, Downstairs is the burger/ fast food part and upstairs is the fancier dining option which isn’t critiqued here.

Service was reasonably fast on the occasion I ordered food and extremely slow on the occasion I ordered a shake. The menu’s pretty tight and I’ve tried a few of the options. For what you pay for, you don’t fully get a satisfying meals the burgers/ sandwiches, while good skew on the smaller side.

IMG_0608.JPG

I enjoyed the damper roll of the chicken club sandwich with the meat and sides being pretty good as well. Onion rings sides were excellent and really needed to make sure I left feeling full.

The Fluffernutter milkshake (Peanut butter and marshmallow) is awesome and definitely worth ordering. Ours went pretty fast which is a good sign.

Pro tip: order sides as you might not get full

7/10

The Merrywell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mad Mex, Southbank

There’s more than a few Mad Mex(es?) around, and the one we visited on this occasion was in the DFO South Wharf complex. It was about the same as the other Mad Mexes I’ve been to around town, so above average franchise Mexican that gets way too drippy in the end. My eating partner and I both went for the chorizo burrito, with inclusions of cheese, salad, beans, rice, sour cream and mystery Mexican sauce. Most of the menu is variations of this.

Chorizo makes for a nice meat inclusion in a burrito and Mad Mex does a decent job of that. My main gripe is the final fifth of the burrito having all the liquids amalgamate into a burrito puddle. Also would be great if they toasted as default. It’s a solid sized burrito and leaves you feeling like you’ve eaten a baby.

6/10

Mad Mex Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Munich Brauhaus, South Wharf

A friend and I stopped by the Munich Brauhaus for some snacks and drinks on a weekend afternoon. The design of the place is fantastic, it’s modelled after a Bavarian beer hall and is pretty huge in size, so perfect for a big group. Service is fantastically efficient with all the staff seemingly hooked up to some crazy digital system that keeps menu items coming out with ease.

We could only judge on the items we ordered, and we thought the fries and pretzel were solid. The pretzel we had was with cheese and jalapenos and it delivered to expectations. We rather enjoyed the truffle mayo that accompanied the fries and on the tables next door, the meals looks intense in size. Reminds me of the food over at Hofbrauhaus, it’s probably a related business.

A nice spot by the water and a great location for some group weekend drinking.

7.5/10

Munich Brauhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Melba, Southbank

A throwback review of a special time in my eating history. Our work gave us allowance for each team to get a Christmas lunch or dinner and the three of us chose Melba. We had a fantastic evening of eating ’til we couldn’t, with an excellent array of food and wine and great service in a beautiful location overlooking the Yarra River.

melba
A first and very ambitious eating plate

Melba‘s located in the Langham Hotel and the pricing for this deluxe buffet is adjusted based on time of day and month. As such the menu offerings also adjust slightly and is extremely varied across every cuisine type as demonstrated by the hotchpotch of food in the above and below pictures. There’s plenty of seafood and sushi for fresh, value busting items and a carvery which dishes out slices of meat to order. Staff were attentive and very happy to help. Over at the wok, pasta and naan sessions they cook your choices to order and the renowned M&Ms naan bread is a dish not to be missed.

melbasouthbank
Tandoor chicken goes great with pork bun

I probably screwed myself over at the second plate with stockpiling way too much on the carbs and not getting a chance to try all the dishes yet. Those two plates were pretty much the extent of my buffet eating. We were pretty thrilled with the quality of all the options on offer and I barely made it through with my stomach intact. Some items like the ravioli were a bit weaker, but when it’s only a few things out of a hundred choices it’s inconsequential.

melbacrown
I have no memory of eating this

Our final course was dessert and being a being with a sweet tooth, I was challenged to find my way through one of every dessert on display. I’m not sure if I survived, as my memory is hazy and I can recall is an empty plate and a hailing a cake (I mean cab) to get me home. I’m not sure I quite enjoyed the dessert offerings as much as the savoury ones, some of the cakes were on the dry side. Even looking at the plate these days gets me a little fearful. We concluded overall Melba offers a great, upscale buffet with splendid choices for any special occasion.

8/10

Melba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ten Miles, Southbank

Ash I headed into the Crown Casino for a honey chicken lunchtime treat. Ten Miles is the only store in the foodcourt that happened to do it, plus it looks reasonably attractive in appearance and size with two cabinets of smorgasbord options. The food’s all a bit average here unfortunately, the chicken didn’t quite have the right crispy coating and left a bit of a greasy aftertaste as a result. A few pieces had me wondering if there was any meat.

tenmiles

I’ve had a few other choices on other visits and largely the beats the same across all the drums. Good for long hours and proximity to the gambling tables, but Ten Miles wouldn’t quite be worth venturing in for.

5.5/10

Ten Miles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Meat & Wine Co, Southbank

An out of town friend of a friend suggested this location as a good steakhouse, with the commute to the restaurant being great, it’s right along the banks of the Yarra River. We were fortunate to get our own private room for the 8 pax booking, meaning we got a bit of serenity from the rest of the crowd, although part of me also missed being in that mix.

The Pinot noir we ordered and the service over the night was fab with someone checking in at the right intervals. We started with reliably good garlic bread. I’m hopeless at ordering steak as the only meat I ever grew up with was in pie form, but found myself pointed to the rib eye at medium rare. This reminds how terrible I used to be growing up and ordering well done. How times have changed. The selection here is fantastic.

 

So the order. I had mine with the blue cheese sauce and a side of garlic mash. The dishes came out reasonably quickly and it was satisfying cut of meat. Mostly good quality meat, wasn’t quite as lean I was hoping for with the blue cheese sauce subtle and the garlic mash delicate and creamy. The fried onion rings option was also tasty from the string I swiped. At 350grams it was a pretty serious serving and I barely finished.

We were eventually ushered out (next sitting was coming soon) so we missed out on dessert, but that was mostly serendipitous as I was rather full. So overall, a great meaty meal with a price tag to match!

7.5/10

The Meat & Wine Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Easy Way, South Wharf, Southbank

In need of some refreshment in between eyeing up things at DFO we couldn’t afford, we picked up a drink that we could afford from Easy Way. I wasn’t paying again, so Joey went with the Mocha frappe.

easyway

Okay service and mostly efficient delivery. But the drink was so sickly sweet, it was too full on and didn’t have much coffee angle to it either. Maybe the syrup ratio was wrong. Surprisingly the mocha frappe is the third highest kilojoule count behind taro red bean and coconut. But nope.

5.5/10

Easy Way Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Simply Thai, Southbank

It really looks okay at first glance, but something happens in the transition from foodcourt cabinet to plate that results in some subpar eating. Handily located in the family section of Crown Casino is Simply Thai, one of the many options for the spot. You’d only dine here out of convenience really. I had a mix of noodles, sweet chilli chicken and massaman beef. It all kinds of melds together visually and flavour-wise and it isn’t long for the regret to sink it. Things go from enticing to emptiness. Not unlike the casino.

simplythai.jpg

5/10


Simply Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato