43 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
It was a cold August night and we'd ventured out into the wind and rain to meet up with the dynamic V's for a bite to eat. We'd left early so we could find a close park and have the opportunity to sit in the warm comfort sure to be awaiting us inside Punch Lane. I parked on Little Collins street. I was so proud of myself, I've managed to find the perfect car spot on the exact same street that the restaurant is on, how often do you get to do that in the CBD. Daz and I got out of the car and started walking up the street. "Where is it?....its 43 right...so it should be here somewhere"....."are you sure its on Little Collins street" CRAP!...wrong "Little" street!
So a slight detour and 15 minutes later we were inside the bar. The place was packed so our table wasn't quite ready, so we sat at the bar....all of us starving, cold and uncomfortable (who thought tall wooden chairs were a good idea?). Cured meats hung mockingly in front of us. I contemplated grabbing a sausage and chowing down before a waiter could notice, but the dignified side in me kicked in and stopped me just in a nick of time. My stomach soon gave way to my bladder, time for a pit stop. I don't usually mention toilets at restaurants, but this one was a doozie. I walked in, and as a women the first thing I did was look for the bag hook. I looked everywhere, and then....I looked up. The bag hook was way up on the wall, way above my head! I thought it best not to put my bag up there, just in case it fell off and knocked me unconscious while sitting on the toilet. Knowing me and my track record so far that night, that would be likely to happen.
We got to our table, and my favourite thing about any restaurant....plentiful free bread. Since there were four of us and the waitress was a class act, the bread baskets were flying at us at an incredible speed.
We each had a glass of wine and then it was time to order. There was a winter express menu on offer so we opted to go for that.
Daz started with a huge bowl of cream cannellini soup with chorizo and spinach. It looked so lovely and creamy, with crispy pieces of chorizo floating on top. Daz was so kind to give me ONE spoonful, it was warm, thick inviting and perfect for a cold wet night. I really wish I had ordered that dish for myself, atually I wish Daz was more inclined to share half his meals with me, we have a mortgage together...whats half a bowl of soup!?
The rest of us had the salted salmon, potato and olive salad, with fresee and lemon mayonnaise. The salted salmon tasted a little weird. It was originally supposed to come with salted cod, but they had run out for the night. I wondered it if would taste much nicer with plain smoked salmon. The mayonnaise was the saviour of the dish, it was tangy and refreshing, an element that was really needed to combat the saltiness of the salmon.
For mains, V2 had a confit of chicken with winter cabbage, peas and jus roti. He was bitterly disappointed, and I was for him too. Confit is one of my favourite dishes, and his tasted exactly like fried chicken...nothing special, didn't taste bad....just ordinary. sigh. I dislike ordinary.
The rest of us had braised lamb shanks with creamed carrots and swede. We hit the jackpot. The lamb was tender and juicy, exactly what a lamb shank should be. The creamed carrot and swede was delightful. It was so special, I still think of it to this day. It was fluffy but filling, the dish had a few olives dotted here or there. Your mouth would burst with excitement when you took a mouthful of mash and hidden withing was a salty little package that just made everything taste so well rounded. I had never thought to throw some olives into a mash, but I sure am going to do that now!
We also got a side of Greek salad and crispy french fries.
Overall the dinner was pretty good. I enjoyed the atmosphere and I'll definitely be going back. Hopefully next time I can try some of their cured meats, and park on the right street!