213 High Street
Prahran VIC 3181
+61 3 9514 2444
My final MFWF express lunch session for the year was with Jen, this time at mod-retro gastro-pub, The Smith. It was up to me to choose the venue for our long-awaited catch-up and I chose it not so I could incorporate Morrissey’s famous band into my title, but also because this is award-winning chef, Michael Lambie’s newest venture. Even though I didn’t have the best time at his previous restaurant, Taxi Dining Room, I still have respect for the dude for bringing his spin on modern Australian-slash-Asian cuisine. Plus, I had dinner there on a lousy night and probably just ordered the wrong dishes so I was willing to give this guy another go.
We both arrived at 12 on the dot for our lunch booking, to a quiet dining room that was smart, but not flashy. Elegant, but not pretentious. And modern, yet retro at the same time. The Smith may have been full of contradictions, both decor-wise and menu-wise (the menu could be best described as Asian-inspired, with a touch of French, Mexican and heavensknowswhatelse). Whether the menu will work, however, was something that we would find out very soon.We sat at a table in the back room, and received our express lunch menus ($35 for two courses, you all know the deal by now) along with the a la carte menu. We decided, for now, to stick with the express lunch menu, though some of the a la carte options did sound awfully good (kingfish sashimi with lime, chilli, toasted coconut and hot mint, anyone?).
But back to the express lunch. I decided to do the entrée-main option, while Jen did the main-dessert option. While sensible Jen, who drove in, chose not to have her wine, I happily chose a glass of Mount Langi ‘Billi Billi’ pinot grigio. It teamed up nicely with my entrée, the tuna tataki with pickled papaya salad and wasabi dressing. The fresh slabs of tuna were seared for less than it took for Jensen Button to complete a turn, before being placed lovingly on a pickled papaya salad. Although the dressing was probably more soy rather than wasabi, I could still taste subtle hint of fresh horseradish amongst all the mess. I was glad I chose this over the Cuban braised wagyu osso bucco, which probably would have been decent too but man, I was so sick of Mexican-influenced food…
It didn’t take long for The Smith to reach full capacity. I figured that half the people in the restaurant chose this restaurant because they also love The Smiths, while half just wanted to get away from the F1. In any case, our waiters were still very quick to bring out our meals, with full smiles and composure. See, we need more of this level of service in restaurants…
Jen’s main came in the form of a pan-fried snapper, King prawn wonton, oyster mushrooms and tom yum broth. I sampled a bit of her fish, which was perfectly cooked with nary an amount of dryness that plagues a lot of snapper that gets served at these sorts of places. The skin was crispy, which contrasted wonderful with the tender, flesh. The broth was delicate, rather than intense like a proper tom yum but it worked for the best as it meant that the earthiness of the mushrooms and the natural flavor of the fish were not drowned out.
My choice of protein was the crisp master stock chicken with wombok coleslaw and lime salt. I’m not normally one to order chicken dishes at restaurants for the fear of receiving something that’s been overcooked. However, I was blown away by how AWESOME my chicken was. A generously-sized breast fillet was crumbed, then fried KFC-style before being cut into halves and placed with shreds of wombok, chilli jam, lime salt and a gooey son-in-law egg. I was instructed to mix everything together so that I could taste an intense flavour explosion in my mouth and indeed, I did.
Wow! I could taste everything from lime to fish sauce. From chillies, to palm sugar. Combine them with a bit of tender chicken and some egg in one forkful and you have one helluva memorable dish. It was hot, spicy, salty, tangy and slightly sweet at the same time. Was there umami? Oh hell yeah! Loved it.
For dessert, Jen chose the raspberry soufflé with white chocolate sorbet. I wasn’t expecting much so I was surprised when I took a bit of the soufflé along with the sorbet… and tasted nothing but AMAZINGNESS. The soufflé was light and fluffy as one would expect, but I was not expecting the raspberry flavour to be that intense. It was insanely delicious, and easily the best soufflé I’ve ever had. Foodorgasm-worthy? Foetal position foodorgasm-worthy!
I finished off with a latte (no coffee for Jen though), which was alright. Pretty soon, we were both walking out, with happy bellies and smiles. For $35 p/h, we both thought the express lunch at The Smith represented excellent value. Fantastic service and generously-sized food that tasted amazing, wow. We’re both going to return for dinner or another Sunday lunch session very, very soon. Now, Heavens knows I’m miserable now for it’s 11:30pm at night and I’m craving a raspberry soufflé.