I’m flying away in the morning. Six hours to go until we’re supposed to leave the house but so far, I’m only halfway through packing. I should probably get some rest, especially since my brain’s filled with sake (not a good thing) but I figured I’d blog about my last Melbourne dinner before jetting off to the land of things fried in coconut milk, chicken satays, nasi gorengs and AUD$2 KFC Twister combos. Adam and I chose Taxi Dining Room at Fed Square as the location for my last dinner date before flying off for a month as well as to commemorate our 2.5 years together. It is an award-winning restaurant headed by Michael Lambie and serves a modern cuisine with Japanese twists. As it was recommended by Jen and as it constantly receives two hats in The Good Food Guide, we were expecting big, big things. I’m half-asleep as I write this so please forgive me if none of this makes any sense. You’ll also be glad to know that I won’t bother with any Travis Bickle puns or jokes either.
I had originally made a booking for 7pm but due to circumstances (read: Adam), we had to push it back to 8:30pm, the next available time slot for us. I don’t usually eat dinner that late but given that I didn’t want to cancel dinner, I said yes and after shouting at Adam for a myriad of reasons (his fault), we tottered down to Fed Square, walked past the throngs of people at Transport Bar and up the lifts to what I thought was one of the more spectacular dining rooms in Melbourne with a view to boot.
Unfortunately, the fact that we arrived an hour and a half later than scheduled meant that the dining room was already dark by the time we arrived. And we know that means that my photos were going to suck. You have been warned. I was annoyed that I couldn’t use my 1000D and instead, had to rely on my Powershot which was better than nothing, I suppose.
Before I talk about the food, let me say right now that the service at Taxi tonight sucked. Majorly. I don’t know what the problem was as there was certainly plenty of Marc St James lookalike waiters to go around the entire floor. The waiter named ‘Paul’ was supposed to be looking after our table, we were told, but he seemed to be more interested in spending his time on the other side of the room rather than looking after the tables on our side. I think I may have only saw him twice during the 2.5 hour meal while his colleagues covered for us. Secondly, it took one waiter half an hour to actually come to our table and take our order despite our many desperate attempts to flag down a waiter during that half hour. The wait between courses was also long – I counted 35 minutes between them taking away our entree plates (which sat there empty for 15 minutes) to our mains arriving. Thirdly, this one waiter was odd. Every time he passed our section, he make some wtf gesture and sometimes a strange noise to accompany it. For example, the first time he walked past, he would wave at us and yell out “That was beewwwwdiful!” The second time, he poked faces at the couple sitting next to us. The third time, he giggled and screamed out, “Weeeehehehehehehe!” Yeah, um, I dunno…
Okay, food time! (I also apologise for a lacklustre post… I’m really tired)
Our amuse bouche of Sczechuan soup, served in a tiny espresso-sized cup which tasted similar to the oxtail soup that my mum makes – very rich, aromatic and spicy. I didn’t mind it at all but Adam found it a tad weird…
We shared a plate of mixed sushi and sashimi ($23.50), one of the choices from the special sushi menu. It gave Shoya a run for its money when it came to presentation but unfortunately, was not quite there with freshness. It was a good effort though, and miles better than many versions I’ve tried. Props for their surprisingly awesome homemade wasabi which had a more subtle taste compared to the commercial kind – this is a huge deal for me as I don’t like wasabi and generally avoid it.
Adam’s entree: Hot and sour broth with crispy scallop wontons ($19.50). Lambie paid homage to the humble hot and sour soup by adding a handful of enoki mushrooms in the broth for a bit of visual aid before plonking two crispy-fried wantons with mashed scallops and salmon fillet in them. Adam thought the wantons were pretty good while I thought they were just okay. I also thought the use of cherry tomatoes in this dish alongside shiitake mushrooms seemed rather odd.
My entree: filo wrapped quail with cucumber remoulade foie gras and piquant jus ($24). What an awesome entree this was! A small pie filled with boned quail was amazing as can be expected. The accompaniment of a light cucumber and soba noodle with a dressing of remoulade (light tartare sauce) and the fruity, jus that lined the edges of the plate proved an effective partnership prettified by two quail egg halves. I do have to laugh at the use of ‘piquant’ though as it did seem borderline pretentious and out-of-place.
It then got REALLY dark and so I had no choice but to use flash…
Adam’s main: Nolan’s 500g grain fed T-bone steak with bone marrow, sauce Bordelaise ($48). Now, THAT is a steak. Having been used to eating 200-250g steaks, we knew that 500g would be big but we didn’t think it would be THAT huge. It was a bloody good steak though, cooked EXACTLY how I would like it (PERFECT med-rare, soft, juicy, tender, all the right adjectives to describe a perfect steak) and the fact that it tasted ‘Asian-y’ made the experience even more exciting. Delicious. What I didn’t like, however, was the accompaniment of crispy bacon bits and char siu (BBQ pork) which not only seemed out of place but tasted DISGUSTING. Needless to say, much of it remained untouched.
My main: Miso kingfish with sesame spring onion and seared scallops ($42). This dish was suspiciously similar to Nobu’s famous black cod miso and while I did like elements of it, I felt that it was a bit overdone as a whole. Both the fish and the scallops were cooked for only a short period of time to give them both a smooth, velvety texture. I liked the spring onion and sesame mixture on top of the fish too, but I felt that the miso paste dots and the nam jim (sweet dipping sauce underneath each scallop) were too overpowering for the dish. Nobu does this dish successfully because his version is so simple – and that’s all a dish like this needs. By packing too much into it, Lambie just created a bit of a Manhattan peak-hour congestion on a plate that was a bit too much for me.
We would have loved to stay for dessert but unfortunately, our tummies were way too full no thanks to Adam’s maxi-cab of a steak (okay, okay, I’ll stop with the taxi jokes). We signalled for the bill which, funnily enough, arrived faster than a psycho cabbie doing 100km in a 60km zone. It was $187, but we got it down to $140.25 thanks to the Entertainment Book discount. I’d say that, apart from the service, Taxi served some of the better foods I’ve had at fine dining establishments as of late. Sure, the dishes we had weren’t all perfect (the mains more so than the entrees) but I could definitely see myself coming back for another meal – perhaps lunch this time. But only if that crazy waiter doesn’t start belting out rap tunes in front of our table all of a sudden.
Okay, so it’s almost 3am and if I was tired when I started writing this post, you can imagine how EFFED I am right now. I feel a bit sniffy as I write this as this could be my last post for a while seeing as I have no idea when and if I will have net access in Indonesia. If not, then I want to sign off by telling you guys to take care of yourselves and don’t get up to no good while I’m gone! See you all on December 18th!