We got a 9:30pm booking so decided to have a pre-dinner drink near the bar. A good space and full of the beautiful people of Melbourne. We wanted a $12-$14 glass of sparkling, but the only thing on offer was $8 sparkling on tap or a $17 glass of Louis Roederer. Disappointing there was no good "in between" - we went for the $8 glass and it was average.
We were shown to our table and thought the service was deliberately try-hard good - over service at times but then plates left around for too long at others - not naturally good.
The menu was extensive and appeared to have a bit of a modern mexican feel entree wise but then mains were a bit of this and a bit of that.
We ate prawn tacos for entree ($16 for two). A soft taco and the ingredients very fresh; perhaps the prawn was a tad overpowered by the chilli but overall it still tasted good.
We then shared the lamb ribs with pomegranate which I enjoyed because I love very tender lamb surrounded by fat. It did not appeal to the other women on the table.
We ate the signature dish - I am a sucker for the signature dish, I always order it. I hate though when I meet people and I say that my favourite pastime is cooking and they ask "what is your signature dish?" Such a lame question. And if it is a man asking on a date - I see no future at that point really.
That dish was a 3-day cooked chicken with a raft of other vegetables in a light sauce. It was an excellent dish and deserved the signature - juicy chicken, perfectly cooked asparagus and broad beans - overall hearty but delicate.
The balmain bugs were good but a bit oily and missing the char which should be the main flavour carrier.
As for the seared tuna, I politely said that it did not come together. Others said it was just awful. "You can put that in your blog Adles!"
We had fun with our friend who is by far the worst food-word-smith around town. Our side of quinoa (which was very crisp and fresh by the way) - kwi-no-a did you say?" And how do you say that word j-u-s - yuice is it? How about j-a-m-o-n? Hamon she correctly said with a Spanish h followed by, "I thought it was meat but". A non-discerning diner but will tell you if she doesn't like it. "Put that in your blog Adles!"
The wine list was disappointing, not a single bottle under $70 except the house carafes which I would not really call wine.
For dessert we ate a brownie with salted caramel and pear. Mixed reviews on the table, I thought the brownie was empty and the caramel too salty.
The average price range for mains was $29-$33, which I thought was reasonable and the serves were definitely generous.
Overall I enjoyed the food, the produce was good and everything was cooked well. Not overly priced but some food lacked love. A bit like the retro decor and cement posts, lacking that comfort and warmth. If I was in the area and ate there again, I would definitely eat the signature chicken.