Fine Dining in Melbourne
We missed out on the Fat Duck experience, like many other Melbournians. It came, was booked out, then it left. With such a heavy price tag for a dinner, it’s amazing how well it did here! Luckily for us, Heston was kind enough to leave behind a restaurant which is nearly as fancy, but more affordable – Dinner By Heston Blumenthal. After being here for three years, we finally found a great reason to go and splurge on an experience.
Fine dining has never really been enticing for me. Most of the food served is raw. Raw fish, raw beef, raw egg and raw oysters do not appeal to my taste buds! Some people must love it though as these fine dining restaurants do book out well ahead of time. Try getting into Attica (Australia’s best restaurant 2017) on a weekend. It’s about a three month wait. And yes, lots of delicious raw food on their menu. We did our homework and scoured the menu of Dinner before booking it to make sure there were lots of cooked options.
The Fine Dining Experience
Anyway, back to Dinner. We booked this restaurant only a couple of weeks ahead of our special date for a Sunday night. We got an 8.30pm reservation, which suited us perfectly and allowed us to enjoy a couple of drinks in the city beforehand. On arrival, the tables were quite full but we were one of the later arrivers. From the dark corridor entrance, we knew that we were in for an experience. We were seated right at the large windows with a great view of the city.
Dinner delivers a fantastic dining experience. The staff all have French accents and made sure your glass of water or wine was always topped up. The lack of table cloths gave the restaurant a relaxed vibe and makes it appealing to all ages. Dressed in my tight-fitting black velvet dress and puff-sleeved blue velvet jacket, I was one of the more dressed-up guests that night. You could dine there in jeans if you wanted and not feel out of place.
Cocktails A Must
We started off with cocktails. Mine was a savoury whisky based one, the Potted Whiskey. It sounded so unusual with Shiitake Mushroom, Lapsang Tea, Beef Jerky and Worcestershire Sauce. It’s served in a little stone cup, like you would serve green tea. This cocktail packs a punch! It’s flavoursome and has plenty of whisky in it, so much that it took most of dinner time to drink through it. We did order a bottle of red wine as well, which was nice to alternate with the cocktail. Andreas had a Pina Colada style cocktail (forgot the name of it) which came crystal clear but with the same smooth taste. Cocktails are highly recommended there.
The Fine Food
The Meat Fruit was a must for us. It’s one of Dinner’s most famous dishes. It’s worth ordering, if only to look at it and post onto Instagram! It’s a chicken liver parfait made into the shape of fruit (on this particular night it was a mandarin) and served with a slice of grilled bread. This dish tastes superb and is quite generous. It requires three slices of toast so ask for more. Andreas had a raw Kingfish dish (Hay Smoked Kingfish) as he has no problems with that stuff.
There was no doubt that the Slow cooked Pork Belly would be cooked through, so that was my choice for my main course. Andreas chose the Roast Snapper in Cider. Both dishes were delicious, wit carefully selected surrounding flavours. Even if your dish does not call for fries, you must order some. They’re the best, most crunchy fries we have ever had! The mixed leaf salad comes with a lovely dressing.
The waitress is kind enough to ask if we were still keen on proceeding with our desserts, even though our stomachs were stretched to their limits already. This is quite unusual for a fine dining restaurant. We were expecting to head off elsewhere after the dinner to fill our half empty tummies! No, Dinner is very generous with their servings. Although we didn’t need the desserts, we wanted to experience some as who knows when we’ll return!
We ordered Gingerbread Ice Cream and the famous Eggs in Verjuice. The desserts looked fabulous, especially the egg. Think Kinder surprise white chocolate on the outside which you have to crack, revealing a coconut pannacotta and coffee parfait filling with verjuice and citrus. It looks lovely but I’m not left wanting to come back for more. Same with the Gingerbread Ice Cream. There was a little too much flavour combining in both desserts for our taste buds to really enjoy.
The Verdict – A Melbourne dining experience
Overall, dining at Dinner is definitely a great experience. The bill gets into the hundreds and will depend greatly on what you drink! The cheapest bottle of wine is around the $80 mark and goes up into the thousands. You will leave there without feeling the need to visit a pizza joint afterward (like the time I went to another fancy restaurant in the same building).
(All photography on my iPhone 8plus)