Sunday, January 29, 2012

Heaven Gastro Lounge, Melbourne

Today in Melbourne is one of those desert-like, dry, hot summer days where to step outside is to become a melting puddle of a person, desperate to seek the cool shelter of a shopping centre or movie theatre.  Yesterday was the same.  The streets in my suburb are eerily quiet as everyone bunkers down inside to escape the heat.  I think the only way to keep cool would be to sit in a nice cool bath and change the water regularly - and unfortunately, I do not have a bath.

Last night, when it was slightly cooler due to the presence of a gentle breeze, my friend Tim and I went to dinner at Heaven Gastro Lounge on St Kilda Road.  It is an unlikely place for a restaurant open on weekends, nestled as it is in the basement of an office building, but it was a fantastic find, courtesy of a discount voucher that I purchased online.  

The top of this post shows the interior of Heaven - dark and moody, but with fairy lights on a latticework partition and Campari posters on the walls, with television screens silently showing MTV.  On its website, Heaven describes itself as "modern English Gastro Pub food with French, Italian & Asian influence".  I pretty much think that says it is unique and makes its own path.  The chef, Sanjeev Johri, has over ten years experience, and has worked for, among others, Jacques Reymond.

Our deal entitled us to an entree (described in American style as an "appetiser" on the menu), a main and a dessert, with a cocktail.  Our Cosmopolitan cocktails came out first (curiously, sans cranberry juice), and in the heat did not touch the sides.  Accordingly, I followed it up by purchasing a glass  of Fleur de Lys sparkling wine.

For entree, Tim chose the cured New Zealand king salmon served with salmon caviar:

while I chose the five spices calamari with lotus root, Spanish chorizo and spicy tomato sauce:

Both dishes tasted good, and with mine, I enjoyed the contrast of the cool vegetables against the zingy five spice coated calamari.

For main, I could not go past the pork hock with chilli caramel sauce, apple puree, Vietnamese salad, pickled melon and pan seared scallop:

The meat apparently slow cooks for 5 hours, and comes out crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.  The chilli caramel sauce makes the dish - it is the perfect balance of zinginess and sweetness, and complemented the dish nicely.

Tim selected the crispy skin duck in traditional Yorkshire sauce served with potato mash, pumpkin and daikon salad:

The duck was pleasingly soft and moist under the juicy skin, and Tim liked the citrusy tang to the sauce - not immediately what I'd associate with Yorkshire, but that is being nitpicky.

For dessert, Tim chose a very fine tiramisu made with chocolate cake:

while I chose the trio of icecreams (chocolate, vanilla and a raspberry sorbet) with chocolate stick and brandy snaps: 

The brandy snaps were absent, but I didn't mind - I deliberately chose the icecream as a light option for dessert after my rich pork hock main.

Mains at Heaven are around the $30 mark, entrees are around the $20 mark while desserts are around $15.

The staff were very attentive and friendly, and it was suitably cool and dark inside the restaurant to provide relief from the heat outside.  All in all, it was a good experience, and I'd definitely go back.

Heaven Gastro Lounge
580 Lower Ground Floor,
St Kilda Road,
Melbourne VIC 3004
Ph: (03) 9041 2129


Kayte said...

Oh, I just love it when you go out to eat and share it with us! Everything looks delicious and it's always fun to read your descriptions of the menu items and your thoughts on them. Where are we going next??? Very fun.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It sounds like just what you needed! We haven't had it that warm, it's warm but it sounds like it is much hotter in Melbourne!

Lizzy said...

Yum...I almost feel like I was there with you! Delicious selections~

Daisy@Nevertoosweet said...

Hope the weathers a bit cooler now :) I heard from my friends in Melb that the weather been horrible up in the 40 degree ~ it's definitely rare for a restaurant to be opened on the weekend in an office building.

the food looks good especially the pork hock and i'm a sucker for desserts in a cup I think they look so classy ~

yummychunklet said...

With all the coverage from the Australian Open this past week, I'm definitely ready to visit! This place looks like a fun place to eat.

Elaine said...

We've been watching the Australian Open the last couple of weeks so I know how hot it has been there. This looks like the perfect place to duck into - dark and cool. Your meal looks wonderful, especially the ice cream and sorbet.

The Blonde Duck said...

Sounds delicious!

A said...

Looks like a great feed, although I'm still wondering what is traditional about a citrus Yorkshire sauce?!

Lauren said...

Everything sounds delicious! You've made me glad that I've still got (fingers crossed!) six more months before any oppressive heat shows up in Kansas. Paul and I spent a good chunk of last summer lying in the shallow end of our neighborhood swimming pool. It was a brutal summer and I'm just now recovering!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I'd like to ask you a question about one of your cake decorating posts. Is there a way to email or contact you? Thanks!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Anonymous, I can be contacted on gmiddle72 at gmail dot com

hemalata said...

Looks so delicious.

The Blonde Duck said...

Happy Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

I purchased a voucher from "Our Deal" which was for two entrees and two mains and two glasses of house wine. The voucher stated examples of mains "Crispy skin duck in traditional Yorkshire sauce, 400g Hunter Valley rib eye steak..."
We were greeted by a waitress who sat us at our table then had the horrible job of telling us that basically about 40% of the items on the menu were not available tonight, including the rib eye steak and the duck (because apparently they had already run out! I find this very hard to believe considering it was 7.30pm on a Saturday night and there was only two other tables occupied in the restaurant. We were left with the hard choice of picking from items on the menus that were available. We both chose porterhouse steak for mains and Buffalo wings and smoked salmon for entrees. The entrees were tiny and not tasty whatsoever. The steaks weren't much better. I felt so sorry for the poor waitress who had to tell the next two tables the exact same thing that 40% of the menu wasn’t available. She seemed extremely stressed and could totally understand our disappointment. It seemed that the lack of items on the menu was a regular thing. The owner didn’t approach us to apologize for the misleading voucher. Needless to say we will not be returning to this restaurant and would not recommend anyone else to visit!