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
An important disclaimer you need to read before viewing this post: I do not consider myself an expert to critically analyse and discuss Vietnamese cuisine. Not to say, I am an expert of other types of food, but I have had significantly more experience at eating them than Vietnamese. I constantly hear how great (and economical) Vietnamese is in Melbourne. Thus, I took it on board and drove down to none other than Victoria Street, Richmond to a widely popular spot called ‘I love Pho 264′ to check it out.
What a unique name for a restaurant. I think the owners must really admire the pho that comes out of their kitchen. Alternatively, is it what the customers are meant to think after they have visited this place? All that really comes to my mind when I think of “I love” phrases is Brick Tamland’s (from Anchorman’s) “I Love Lamp” quote. Classic.
We chose to dine here on a Saturday night and what a packed dining room it was. When we arrived at 7:00pm there were limited empty tables. By the time we left at 7:30 there was a small queue forming out the doorway on the cold street. Approximately 10 hungry chommers. Upon arrival, I was surprised that they took reservations and even more so that they kept our table free. We were in a big rush before the footy. It worked out well that they held the table for us and even better that you are served your food within 5 minutes of ordering it. Generation Y and university students seem to make up the bulk of their customer base. Wow do they have voices on them! This place isn’t meant for a quiet meal.
As an entree we had great pork and prawn rice paper rolls ($5.00 for 4). For all the maths heads out there, that equates to $1.25 per roll. Cheap! I loved these because they were nice and fat, with a generous amount of insides. Not to mention a delicious dipping sauce. The only other starter that we were aware of was a variety of spring rolls.
You can tell by the name that people come here for the Pho. They come in three sizes, small, medium and large. We only found this out by overhearing the table next to us order. The three of us all ordered the medium size. We would consider ourselves as pretty good eaters and we were very full after this. I would recommend the small or medium, depending on your hunger level. Above is the beef and brisket pho ($10.00). Generous combination of soft pieces of meat and flat rice noodles for each of the servings. The broth was served warm, not as hot as we would have liked. Still, very passable. I made a concoction of complimentary chilli and hoi sin sauce to add some extra kick. Wasn’t necessary but I like to add sauce anyway. A shared plate of lemon, basil and bean shoots was provided. A few handfuls of them were thrown into the bowl too. I tried each of these (all the same but the meat) – they were all delicious.
Chicken and beef pho with steamed vegetables ($10.00) (vegetables were requested). Nice to see some vegetables in the broth. Will be adding these few in for next time.
Shredded chicken pho ($10.00).
Bowl of chilli for desert?
Now, you may ask, did I ‘love’ Pho 264? Truth be told, love is a very hard word to comprehend. I may respond by saying, ‘What is love? baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more’. I can usually tell if I have fallen into love with a place if I have either; dreamed about the food that night or sit reminiscing my wonderful time the next day. Neither of these happened. Needless to say, you cannot always have such strong feelings towards each place you dine at. If you ask, would I return? The answer is yes. I love Pho 264 was fast, cheap and delicious. If you are looking to fulfill those criteria then this is the place for you.
The Important Details…
Noise: Lots of chit chat
Bookings: Yes – Not sure how much it will be honoured
Suitable for: All pho fans
Dress: As you wish
Price: $10 – $15 per head
My View: Cheap and cheerful
Address: 264 Victoria Street, Richmond
Phone: (03) 9427 7749
Staying in Pott’s Point during my short vacation to New South Wales, was a ripper of a decision. I’ll be honest I was very close to staying in the over populated, overpriced and ultra touristy Bondi. I used my instincts and asked a couple ‘in the know’ Sydney siders and made a decision – the right decision. The only issue that Pott’s Point presented my partner and I, was which one of the highly appealing restaurants would we dine at each night. Ms. G’s was chosen one evening. Another ‘ripper’ choice. If only I could pick Tatslotto numbers like that too..
The crowds arrive very early for this excellent place. To avoid standing and waiting the friendly staff offer a bar upstairs to sip on cocktails and relax and/or they will take your name and number and call you when your table is ready. (Note: stay close by, the streets of Potts Point are very relaxing and pleasant to stroll while waiting for your table)
The front cover of the menu that holds names of dishes that will keep me dreaming for the next few years.
Above is the Ms G’s grilled corn on the cob, parmesan and lime ($4.00) . These were charred to perfection and tasted delicious. One may suggest that these are featuring too commonly in many of the new ‘funkier’ eateries. I may agree with that, although if they are cooked as well as these are then I’ll chom them most times.
Mini bahn mi (small burgers @ $6.00 each) The outside two are crispy pork belly and the middle one is chicken katsu.I have a weakness for mini burgers, any catered function that these appear at I attempt to befriend all the staff to ensure a continual supply. I can’t make a negative comment about these little delights. They were incredible and a must order.
Possibly the best dish that I have eaten in 2011. These are Jow’s sweet and sour lamb ribs ($23.00). These literally fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. The portion size was also very generous. I need say no more. This is even a more must than the burgers. GET THESE RIBS. IF you don’t like them you are Loko!
Egg noodles with XO sauce, braised duck and a soft poached egg ($18.00). This too followed suit, and we were very impressed. The noodles were soft and the poached egg provided a nice consistency once it was shmushed and mixed into the dish.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Asian – Thai/Vietnamese dominance
Noise: Loud, but fun
Bookings: Typically no. Possible for large groups and lunches.
Suitable for: 18+ crowd drawn
Price: $25 – $40 per head
My view: Incredible, delicious and a must try
Address: 155 Victoria Street, Potts Point, NSW 2011
Phone: (02) 8313 1000