Monday, August 2, 2010

Lunch at Red Spice Road

Last Friday, I went along with a group of former colleagues and friends for lunch to farewell one of their team and to welcome a new member of their team. The venue was Red Spice Road in inner city Melbourne. Red Spice Road states on its website that its cuisine is "inspired" by South East Asia. The head chef is John McLeay.

The venue is quite funky - the ambience is dark and smoky, with slashes of red lighting up the interior like so many lightning bolts.

On the back wall of the restaurant in the "Lantern Room", the art work at the top of this post is the main feature. Arranged beneath this backdrop are semi-circular dining tables and a circular water table, which arrangement forms the logo of Red Spice Road. Pretty clever, yeah? There are also two long tables lined up side by side lengthways at the front of the restaurant for more diners, known as the Long Room. All dining is communal, but that said, there was a lot of space between groups when we visited, so it meant that we had perfect privacy.

Here is the place setting, with a rather cool tear-shaped bowl through which the chopsticks are threaded for a change from the usual round bowl with chopsticks on a rest at the side:

Dominating the back half of the restaurant is an enormous red lantern, positioned beneath a sky light:

You can also peek at the kitchen staff preparing food through small windows cut into the side walls:

There is a small bar off to the side of the restaurant if you fancy a drink while waiting for your friends.

Our chirpy and friendly waiter gave us marvellous service throughout the meal. I was served water (still and sparkling are available) promptly on arrival, and asked if I wanted a drink at the table while I was waiting for the rest of the group. The waiter also had no problem when I asked if I could take photos during the meal.

We ordered the $30/head banquet, for which you get five different dishes to share. You only need two people to order the banquet, which is fantastic if just you and your beloved are having a meal. As a special, you can get a glass of wine with the banquet for an extra $5. I took them up on this!

The appetiser was Betel Leaf with Chicken, Spanner Crab, Lemongass, Chilli and Kaffir Lime:

These little morsels were very tasty, and easy to eat because you just scoop up a leaf and fold it around the filling before popping it into your mouth.

Next came the five main dishes. The first was a Burmese style lamb shoulder, a type of curry:

The next dish was Chicken Ma Po- Minced Chicken Wok-Fried with Tofu, Sichuan Pepper and Chilli Bean Paste :

My second favourite dish was this Prawn Vietnamese Slaw - instead of having just two prawns in the whole dish, as is usual and disappointing in so many restaurants, this slaw was studded with many large pink prawns, and dressed with a zesty, light vinegarette:

My favourite dish, and the one of which I have the worst photo, was a Crispy Five Spice Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel, Apple Slaw and Black Vinegar. This dish was superb! The pork melted in the mouth, releasing the beautiful, spicy caramel flavour, and the apple slaw complemented it beautifully:

The final dish was Beef Salad with Cucumber, Herbs, Peanuts, Chilli and Shallots:

Red Spice Road has three recipes, including the five spice pork, on its
website. They have also just launched their recipe book, with over 70 recipes - I am tempted to buy it!

The ambience, the setting, the service and the food make this one of the best restaurant experiences that I have had in a long time. If you are in Melbourne and like Asian food, I highly recommend Red Spice Road. The details are:

Red Spice Road
27 McKillop Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: + 61 3 9603 1601


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great food and lovely place! I love asian dishes.



The Blonde Duck said...

I like it when you can try a lot of different things at a new place. It's more fun!

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Good to know you are not going to be discriminated against for not having enough friends if you want to do the banquet :)

Will keep this place in mind when I'm visiting next!

Jennifer said...

Wow! I LOVE the red and the place settings!