Address: Ground Level, NGV
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Call NGV and follow prompts - 8620 2222
Average price: Entrée - $14-16, Main - $23-32, Dessert - $14-16.
Complimentary: Thanks again to Chef Terry Clark & crew for the following dishes:
5 pieces of bread with salted butter, and salt and pepper
Once again the bread was comfortingly warm,with a generous amount of butter. There was my favourite, sweet and salty brioche with its perfect buttery-ness as well as the sour dough caramelised shallot and a pumpkin seed, both lovely.
Pearl barley & sweetcorn risotto in a corn soup with prawns and scallops
One of our diners proclaimed his dislike of corn, whilst we urged him to try it, explaining our previous enjoyment of food we had previously disliked, thanks to Chef Terry's deft touch. One slurp later and his previous despising of corn had vanished with a 'This is really nice'. I didn't have the prawn or scallop (the others said they were lovely) but I truly enjoyed the silken corn soup, straddling that line between savoury and sweet perfectly. The chewy, sticky corn and pearl barley added great textural element and turned it into something different and exciting.
Tomatoes with basil dust and pickled onions
Lovely, light unobtrusive flavours.
Green beans with almonds and cheese
I can't remember what this cheese was, perhaps goat? Whatever it was it went beautifully with the simply cooked beans with salty cooked almonds. Yum.
Peanut butter parfait, caramelised banana, bitter chocolate
This was a mini version with a slice of peanut butter parfait - creamy and full of peanut goodness as well as a quinelle of chocolate ice cream to which my husband proclaimed, 'OMG. That is the best chocolate ice cream I have had and I hate chocolate ice cream.' A slice of caramelise banana added a lovely, creamy fruit note whilst the space rocks had the boys laughing from their childhood memories - plotting to ask the chef for a whole bag of them to take home for later
We also got these beautiful Honey Madeleines - absolutely divine - still hot from the oven and the softest cake imaginable.
Entrée: Cured Tasmanian Salmon, basil, fennel, grapefruit, caviar - $15
To be honest I am not sure why I ordered this as I am cutting fish from my diet and I have never eaten caviar. I asked the waiter if the caviar was a main component and he informed me that it was merely to the side, separately. Unfortunately that was not the case as the caviar and salmon roe was obviously a large component of the dish, so that aside I didn't have much I could eat. The salmon was nice enough, as was the bread and fennel (wish there had been more), but the grapefruit and lettuce gave it an overall bitterness, a taste I like least, so this wasn't the dish for me - hubby enjoyed eating all of my remnants though.
Smoked eel & potato terrine, quail egg, asparagus & truffle mayonnaise - $16
Hubby tried to get me to try some so that I could taste the 'unusual flavour combination' for myself. He enjoyed this.
Battered prawns with garlic aioli - $15
Simple prawns with dipping sauce - nice presentation.
Salad of baby summer vegetables 'a la Grecque' goat's cheese bavarois - $14
S liked this. I thought the newer presentation was quite lovely (apologies for the blurry pic).
Mains: Mushroom tart, king browns, parsley, celery, parmesan - $24
This seemed a whole lot bigger than last time to me - puffier pastry, meatier mushrooms and leafier lettuce. Once again the flavours were beautiful, and I was told the minced mushrooms at the base were cep mushrooms with King Browns lounging on top. The amount of Parmesan was perfect and the hint of thyme was lovely. The waiter informed me of a whole lotta other ingredients but once again my full-tummy-amnesia has erased them.
Fillet of beef, broad beans, tomato marmalade, potato crisps, garlic - $32
Perfectly cooked. Ryan was worried about the broad beans but they were merely tiny swirls of puree. The potato crisps were wonderful and overall the flavours complimented each other.
Yellowfin tuna, olives, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, anchovies, lettuce - $26
S enjoyed this.
Lamb loin, lamb fillet, sweetbreads, vegetables Provencale - - $30?
G liked this.
Desserts: Carrot cake, carrot sorbet, candied violets- $14
I heard this before it arrived - it was popping like wood logs over a fire. Whilst the space rocks are fun, this had a little too many and I had trouble hearing my dining companions while we ate. Other than that my favourite part of this dish were the gorgeous, candied violets which added a beautiful floral note. The carrot, despite being in both the cake and the sorbet, was quite muted for me. The cake itself is unlike any other carrot cake I have had - it was crunchy, cakey, sweet. moist, with many textures and only a soft carrot undertone. I can't remember what the dusting was, or the yellow drizzle - I must remember to write these things down.
Macerated pineapple, vanilla, yoghurt, passionfruit, pickled ginger sorbet - $14
S claimed the soft, airy yoghurt was quite bizarre but nice. S liked this but found it a little sweet for her as she seldom has sugar and sweets.
Chocolate fondant, bourbon ice cream - $16
As predicted, R ordered this one again as he loved it so much the first time. I could hear G shrieking with glee at the sight of molten chocolate pouring down his spoon filling his plate with a sweet lava. No complaints at all - both men/boys were very happy.
Cost: $237.50 - for four entrees, four mains, 1 drink and four desserts.
Service: Perfect. The service is always flawless.
Atmosphere: Lively but very relaxed. The interior is a mixture of black, red and white with a modern minimal feel. There are textures of plastic, steel and leather with one slate wall surrounded by panoramic windows that allowed us to view landscaped Grollo Equiset gardens. There are leather and fabric booths with red leather chairs, or small black veneer tables with Perspex chairs. The window seats are lovely as the booth seating is very comfy and the view of the gardens is really calming. It can get a little noisy when full but the tables are well spaced so you never feel cramped or listened in on. The dark interior helps to frame the gorgeous outside surroundings.
Parking: Limited as car spots are generally taken - although a tram runs along St Kilda rd, and Flinders station is not far down the road. We managed to get a car park a block down the road and there are side streets you might get lucky with. There is also underground gallery parking which is $12 for non-members.
Hours: Daily 11am to 4pm (except Tuesdays).
Would I return: Yes. If you haven't gone yet - hurry up!