I would be a fool to think I wasn’t lucky to live in Melbourne. Sunday is never sleepy in Melbourne and as I sit outside Transport at Federation Square to have a pre-lunch drink I am surrounded by the Thai Celebration Festival with food stalls all along the Yarra River, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival is on across the square at ACMI and there is wine tasting and a craft market just on the other side of the bridge. A 2 course lunch inside with views of all this action for only $35 including a glass of wine was an exciting thought…
So as I said we met at Transport downstairs from Taxi Dining Room. Transport is a pub and it used to be a fun place to hang out. I was greeted when I arrived by a bar tender who seemed to be bothered by my existence. I asked for a wine list (not expecting too much) and joked with him that he couldn’t get the wine list opened as it was so sticky – his response was a deadpan “Its sticky from last night” – he could have bothered to go get a not so sticky one! He handed me a dirty glass with wine in it, took my money and return my change without a word, nor any eye contact.
All I can say when Paul Mathis owned this joint – the staff were friendly. I won’t be back to Transport… but onto Taxi Dining Room…
So we went upstairs, were greeted warmly at the door, and placed at our window seat table (almost every table has a window seat with the format – which works really well!
We started with Campari and Soda’s and the hottest darkest Bloody Mary I have ever seen! (It was also really good – just needed Horseradish root for my palate). There were 2 choices for each course. Entree was either Country Terrine with Foie Gras and peach compote. The plate was well presented, and the Terrine was moist, flavoursome and had a good chunk of Foie in the middle. To the side was the peach compote and a Rabbit Rillettes. It was a perfect size, but didn’t come with any bread or toast.
The Rillettes was great, but mine had a knuckle joint in it. I commented to our waiter, who already through our order taking had said he was both deaf and dumb – although he wasn’t either, that the knuckle was there. I said it wasn’t a problem for me, as I know where meat comes from but that the rillettes tasted as good as mine – but don’t tell the kitchen. The waiter returned from the kitchen saying that the chef said “Meat comes from an animal and animals have bones” and that he “invited me to bring my rillettes’ in if I thought it was as good as his”. 2 points – I am a huge foodie and I also worked as a chef many years ago… Uncalled for.
The other entree offered was Brandade filled Zucchini flowers with a green papaya salad. I didn’t get to try this but photo below! It looked great!
Ok onto the main courses. I ordered the Crispy Szechwan duck with lime pickle, Vietnamese salad and Sesame Tamarind and my friend Carolyn ordered the other option of Fillet of Atlantic Salmon with Sorrell and King Prawn salad and a shellfish dressing, and our intention was to share them together.
The duck first. It was an amazing dish – the lime pickle was phenomonel however the duck was rabidly overcooked, unless the chef serves this dish Well Done, which would suprise me.
The salmon, served Medium when we ordered Medium Rare, was the dish to chose. The mash underneath the salmon what shellfish heaven and the Sorrell salad worked very well to break the oil in the fish. An awesome dish that I would eat anytime!
Desert time. Choice of two, but we all chose one of them. The dish we didn’t choose was a chocolate tain with passionfruit foam. Great dish, but the other choice was a Layered pannacotta with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla foam – this won us all over.
The Pannacotta was perfect, the bottom layer was rich raspberry coulis, rich and tart, followed by a very plain, rich pannacotta – which was perfect. Next a layer of firm jelly, followed by crumbs and foam. The foam was supposed to be Vanilla foam; however we are sure it was the passionfruit foam! The crumbs were perfect and the dish as a whole – I wanted two more!!!
The service on this day left a little to be desired. Humour is great from a waiter when it is humour, but when humour doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work when it is at the expense of the guests. We all enjoyed our meal despite the food being over cooked and the service poor. Michael Lambie and the team obviously have great talent putting together the menu, however the team today were obviously either past the point of caring about the Coldstream Hills Restaurant Express menu, as it was the last day the special was offered, or we caught them on a bad day. Either way, I will definitely be back!