Friday, 30 March 2012

Restaurant express - Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

M and I tried to go to a few of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival events this year. Last year I did the oyster tasting night at Cumulus and loved it. This year we took advantage of a few of the Restaurant Express lunches and I went to one event at St Katherine’s (more to come on that later).

The restaurant express lunches are fantastic value! A range of Melbourne’s best restaurants offer a 2 course lunch with a glass of wine for $35. Straight away M and I booked in for Dandelion and Pearl, and, with the added benefit of working in the city, M also made it to Taxi, Gingerboy and Bottega.


This was by far the best Restaurant Express lunch. I probably wouldn’t normally eat at Pearl as I find it a little try-hard, however the food at lunch was great and the service fantastic (I actually thought it was some of the best service I've had lately).

I’ll admit, this was the only lunch we actually remembered to photograph all the food – the others we got carried away and rather neglected that aspect. So this is also the fullest post!

What we ate:

For entrée we both ordered:
  • Sashimi grade swordfish salad with green mango and heart of palm, coriander and rice paddy herb, red nam jim

This was delicious, the fish was so fresh and the salad had beautiful flavours. The only thing I felt was that the mint and chilli in the salad were slightly overpowering and it was less easy to taste the delicate fish. Luckily M and like strong flavours so we had no problem gobbling it up.

For main M ordered:

  • Prawn and beancurd pad ped with thai and pea eggplants, fragrant herbs and steamed coconut rice
This was also really great, classic satay-style flavours with big prawns and a nice level of spice. The pea eggplants had a nice crunch and added a different element.

And I ordered:

  • One side only seared yellow fin tuna, sweet smoked fish salad with sunflower shoots, galangal and kaffir lime, young coconut and lemon oil

This was beautiful. The tuna was carefully wrapped over a salad of shoots and herbs. The flavour in this dish was lovely and fresh and lemony and the tuna was nicely seared on one side so it carried a bit of warmth. It doesn’t look that big but I was actually stuffed after eating it all.

Pearl on Urbanspoon


During our lunch here M and I got so absorbed in chatting we completely forgot to photograph the main! But here’s what we ate:

For entrée we both ordered an octopus salad. It was lovely, in a very similar vein to the flavours at Pearl however I found them more balanced and light. It had pieces of baby octopus throughout which I loved, but they were slippery suckers to eat with chopsticks! The balance of the fried shallot, bean sprouts, green beans, thai basil and mint was perfect.

For main we both ordered the seafood option of leatherjacket. This dish was a bit of a disappointment to me. The fish came whole with a little bowl of white rice on the side and a small asian salad. The thing that I found disappointing was the lack of sauce, the rice was quite dry without it and the fish not saucy enough to transfer to the rice. Plus the fish was quite yellowy and I kind-of felt like I was eating a pet goldfish…

Although I was a bit disappointed in the main, I think I’d still go back to Dandelion again – the normal menu looked great.

Dandelion on Urbanspoon

Kate eat-drink-dream

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