May 28 2008

Seamstress Restaurant Review

Seamstress 113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, European Asian fusion would suit business lunch or traveller interested in fine dining.

This exciting new eatery is 6 months young and already extremely popular, we had no major concerns getting a table at 12 for lunch but any later than 1 pm and you may be pushing your luck.

The atmosphere is quite relaxing almost bohemian and the staff are very attentive and know their jobs and the cuisine well if you are adverse to stairs then this may not be for you as we alighted up 2 flights from the street to get to the restaurant. Once there the climb was rewarded with an airy open dining experience, as usual the Munchbrothers team chose to open up the slate with a well proportioned Lemonade Lime and Bitters ($4.00), there is of course the obligatory glass of water as expected. The menu is set out in meal sizes ranging from small to large, we opted to give the small range a try as the price ranged from $3.90 (per freshly shucked oyster) to $22 for the largest. The choice from Munchbrothers was 1 of the specials “Taylors chicken and prawn dumplings” ($11.00), off the menu crispy rare duck neck ($16.00) and scallops with belly pork and shitake mushroom ($18.0), kangaroo san chow bau, we accompanied this with a side of plain rice ($nc), a side of dried-prawn rice ($4.00) and sour mustard greens ($5.00).

After we had ordered we where presented with a chicken broth sampler, which I may add was fresh and inviting, the sampler is changed daily with whatever is fresh [nice touch]. Within 12 or so minutes our meals began to arrive, the service was quick and unobtrusive. Our waiting staff even suggested that many people order this way and sample each others light meals.

The scallops had me in straight away and I was not disappointed, fresh with a crispy double cooked slice of belly pork served on the half shell with the scallop still attached. The texture of the scallop was silky as expected and the combination with the belly pork surprisingly nice, this dish has been well thought out with a smooth combination of flavours and textures. It has a clean finish wether you have as presented or opt to squeeze a little fresh lime as I tried both combinations. This I would suggest as a starter for 5 people ($18.00)

The duck neck was another sensation for the palette it combined the expected crisp skin with medium rare duck meat that was soft and juicy, it came with a sauce that was well suited in its sourness to the dish, there was also velvety mushrooms this dish too was well thought out and really a good starter. This I would suggest as a starter for 5 people ($16.00)

The kangaroo san chow bau was interesting as I have really only had this with pork, beef, or chicken before. The meal did not let down the others so far, the minced kangaroo on endive leaves was a novel fusion of east meets west and the flavour had a hint of spice but was tender as expected of our own kangaroo. This I would suggest as a starter for 5 people ($15.00)

The Taylors chicken and prawn dumplings presented really well in their own bamboo steamer on a bed of iceberg lettuce, they came with a sweet sour dipping sauce that has lemongrass infused and floating within. This was not what I expected the dumplings where a bit on the doughy side and lacked the flavour to be eaten without the dipping sauce. This I would suggest as a starter for 5 people ($11.00)

As for the sides we mixed them up in combinations with the main foods and they seemed to be a hit with all the meals we chose.

Once we had completed our lunch we opted to try some of deserts here we chose 3, firstly and I must say the best way to test any kitchens worth passionfruit brulee ($14.00) followed with the chocolate pannacotta ($14.00) and banana spring rolls ($15.00). We chose the standard coffees to accompany our sweets.

Once the sweet choices arrived they all had presentation appeal.

The passionfruit was presented well with an accompanying side of diced pear and watermelon dressed with what I believe was shredded mint the sugar had been slightly over scorched in the middle and was consequently quite bitter, but the passionfruit centre was divine the fruit gave a nice fresh flavour with a different texture, this went well together.

The chocolate pannacotta came with lychees (fresh) and was silky smooth, the lychees however did not seem to match this desert as the passionfruit and fruit of the prior.

The banana spring rolls are not as good as mums but they did have a generous amount of filling and the cover was light and crisp, this was accompanied with ice-cream and a reduced balsamic sweet sauce. I think we all agreed this combination was a good one.

All in all I would recommend Seamstress for a business lunch or even a pre theatre or event fine dining experience, the venue has a downstairs bar which is much more relaxed and has a great time warp of selling “west coast coolers” but that aside they also do a mean alcoholic spider, and we recommended they try to make a new drink and of course it take our name “the Munchbrothers rum ball” It is lemonade wit a shot and a half of brown rum with a scoop of good quality chocolate ice cream. If they don’t have it on the menu ask for one and mention us. Upstairs there’s another bar which is a little more subdued than the downstairs one this is used as a waiting area when you are early for your booking or just want to drop in for a drink. This is one place we would give a high rating for and recommend if you want to try yourself be prepared to book a couple of weeks in advance for Thursday and Friday night but up to six weeks for Saturday.

  1. Service Quality:
    Service was friendly with the staff appearing very knowledgeable about their food and produce.

Rating: 8.5/10

  1. Service Speed:
    Service was generally speedy. The entire meal process took a little over 1 hour.

Rating: 7/10

  1. Food Quality:
    The food was of high standard and the quality appeared to be maintained with ease.

Rating: 7/10

  1. Ambience:
    A very open air and semi industrial eating area, very clean and welcoming.

Rating: 9/10

  1. Value for Money:
    This is not for those seeking cheap eats, when you come to Seamstress you will receive quality food and service with a suitable price to match. Overall I thought it was good value for money.

Rating: 7/10

Average Rating: 7.7/10
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