349 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9620 4060
Disclaimer: Libby and Linda dined as guests of Bluestone and Tyrrell Publicity & Promotions
There’s nothing like a good game of Thursday night football to get the heart racing (go Dons!). Combine that with a caffeine and sugar-loaded peach milk tea from Chatime and macarons from Luxbite and you have a very wide-awake Libby, keen for some bloggin’ action.
The restaurant I’ll be writing about tonight is Bluestone, an upmarket restaurant on the quiet end of Flinders Lane. Once upon a time, Flinders Lane was full of bluestone warehouses. And while most traces of its bygone days have been replaced by overpriced apartments, hipsters and the occasional urinating backpacker, Bluestone restaurant still retains its, well, bluestone walls and wooden beams from way back. I was impressed, not only because I like places that attempt to retain a piece of history but also because it provided a romantic setting. Not that Linda and I were on a date.
Once upon a time, Bluestone featured prominently in The Age Good Food Guide and served fine dining fare. Something also tells me that they may have picked up a hat at some point, but don’t quote me on that. These days, they’re throwing away the old and stuffy and injecting a bit of fun in their cooking, under the guidance of executive chef Cody Cunningham, who hails from Montana. There’s also a nod to all things Australian so you’ll find ingredients such as wallaby and quandong on the menu. An American playing around with native Australian ingredients? That’s something we had to see for ourselves!
We started off with three different types of oysters: Coffin Bay, Sydney Rock and Pacific. They were fresh and needed no dressing apart from a little squeeze of lemon, though a mint and shallot vinaigrette was provided. I each one, though Linda wasn’t too keen on the strong taste of the Sydney Rock one.
Our first starter was the Hervey Bay scallops, topped with a Parmesan and dill crust and baked in their shells. While I enjoyed the scallop and cheese combo, I wasn’t sure about the presentation of the dish. The pea shoots just looked so awkward and added absolutely nothing to do the dish.
The kingfish dish proved to be a more cohesive unit. The kingfish was beautifully fresh, a great start. I also loved the refreshing avocado and finger lime sorbet, while the wasabi emulsion was not overpowering.
Australians love a piece of barra so I wasn’t surprised to see it on the menu. I was surprised, however, by the savoury caramel pop corn on top of the corn salsa and corn puree (ah Americans and their obsession with corn…). While I thought the fish was beautifully cooked and all the corn elements tasted lovely on their own, the ingredients didn’t quite mesh together well. I reckon swapping the fish for chicken would yield better results but that’s just me…
Linda ordered a medium porterhouse steak, which didn’t completely win her over. Sure, the steak was cooked well and all … it just wasn’t an exciting dish. What’s more, we also thought the beetroot relish was very sour. And while I’m in the sour>sweet camp, even I thought the relish tasted too much like a lemon Warhead.
My dessert was a strictly gluten-free affair. Cunningham beautifully poached autumn’s finest pears and matched them with berries and coconut cream, with walnuts for a bit of crunch. It was pleasant enough, but nothing too exciting.
Linda had the rhubarb and strawberry crumble, which she found too sour. Cunningham explained that the ice cream was supposed to melt all over the crumble to sweeten it, though I think this should have been explained to us. Regardless, it was an okay dish but like my poached pear, nothing to rave on about.
I had mixed feelings about this restaurant. On one hand, I wanted it to do well and I was sad to see the place so empty on a Thursday night. On the other hand, I can see why it’s not as packed as the other Flinders Lane restaurants. The restaurant feels very upmarket, yet it serves food that’s playful and adventurous. There’s just too much of a clash, in my opinion. And while I’m all for adventurous food, I think its too much of a risk to be serving such dishes in the mid-to-high 30s range, especially in such a competitive part of the city. Meanwhile, the service was so friendly and attentive that we barely minded when our desserts took a bit longer to arrive.
Although I probably won’t be rushing here for dinner in a hurry, I wouldn’t mind coming here for lunch where the mains are cheaper and thus, seem to provide better value. In saying all this, Bluestone is one restaurant that I do want to see do well. Cunningham does show a lot of promise; all he needs to do is to tweak those dishes a bit more and he’ll be right.
You can also read Linda’s review here.