Attention foodies of Melbourne – you now have a Vietnamese dining choice south of the great Yarra River divide. The people of Elwood have much to thank chef Geoff Lindsay for bringing his take on modern, up-market Vietnamese food to humble Ormond Road.
While no bargains are to be found here, you can take comfort in knowing that you will be dining in a very comfortable and relaxing environment. This is a major change from the regular fast-paced hustle and bustle you would expect whilst dining at most joints on Victoria Street (Melbourne’s Vietnamese hub).
Dandelion is an attractive eating destination for both younger and older folk. The older generation will take comfort in dinner bookings available 7 nights a week and lunches too (Thurs-Sun). Meanwhile; keen, younger foodies are here to sample Lindsay’s take on 21st century fusion Viet cuisine.
Now, without further ado, let us start talking about the food – because that’s why your reading this today. We dined here during the week as a group of 5 chommers and racked up a food bill of approximately $40 per head. To begin we had a ‘nibble’ of the crispy sesame and coconut rice papers with spanner crab dressed with coconut, chilli and lime ($16.00). The crab was buttery soft and almost melted into the crackers. Next time will try the chicken ribs with ginger.
While rice paper varieties included rock lobster, soft shell crab and spicy pork, we knew that we could not afford to order them all – despite wanting to chom every variety! We decided on the torched salmon, caviar, shredded lettuce, apple and yuzu soy ($16.00). Totally scrumptious and a shame others were so pricy – slightly cheaper we would have ordered one of each.
A minimum order of three of green rice fried tiger prawns with nuoc cham ($5.00 each) is required by the kitchen. An easy task to achieve considering how bloody brilliant these were.
Call me a loser – I felt that I should present the constructed prawn with all its accompanying body armour. Drizzle that baby with the juices provided, wrap it up and … chom. Flavour and texture explosion to follow in the mouth of awesomeness – ridiculously crunchy. A must order – one per person (at least).
‘Fresh off the coconut grill” – The crew at Dandelion deemed the BBQ pork spare ribs with lychee and mint salad ($38.00) so special that it was given its own heading on the menu. Much of this hype is owed to this specific course winning the prestigious Age Good Food Guide ‘dish of the year’ 2012. One can assume that it is only fair to let all customers know that they can sample an award winning dish during their chom – as we did graciously.
While we skipped the entire pho section of the menu, I took due notes that wagyu beef with brisket, chicken and mushroom and spanner crab options were on offer. Would be crazy not to sample one of them upon my next visit. We did have the Mekong fish curry with coconut, young jack fruit and sweet potato ($33.00). The broth was very light, while the fish was fresh and cooked perfectly, complemented by loads of garnish. The sweet potato pieces floating around were a top addition too. The pork belly and goat curry options tickled my fancy too.
Steamed shredded chicken salad with Vietnamese slaw, peanuts, crispy shallots and nuoc cham ($23.00). Once properly tossed, this was an excellent side salad; filling, delicious and full of flavour. I would recommend one salad between 4 chommers.
A range of accompaniments that were provided with the ribs and curries respectively
Dessert number one was little coconut pancakes with mung bean puree and coconut ice cream ($16.00). Just under a mouthful per person, which, combined with its sticky sweetness, is all that you really need. Get stuck into that coconut ice cream when you are done with the little cakes.
To conclude a lovely evening we all helped demolish the deep fried black sesame ice-cream with palm sugar and and caramelised monkey banana ($16.00). Who doesn’t like fried ice-cream, seriously?
To cap it all off, the service at Dandelion was truly exceptional. The staff were very patient with my somewhat difficult group and waited on us extremely professionally. While the overall price was on the expensive side, I believe that it can be justified once in a while when you want to eat Viet in a more high-class environment. Dandelion is doing great things for Elwood and surely will do nice things for you too.
Keep on chommin’.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Modern Vietnamese
Noise: You can hear yourself think
Bookings: Yes – to make life that one bit easier
Suitable for: Older crowd – not cheap
Price: $40 per head (excluding alcohol)
My View: DVIE – Delicious Vietnamese In Elwood
Address: 133 Ormond Road, Elwood
Phone: (03) 9531 4900