A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...medicine go down...medicine go down.
Well, I'll let you figure that part out.
But onto Coda. I tried making reservations earlier in the week but they were fully booked but encouraged us to arrive early and get some seats at the bar which are solely reserved for walk ins. BRILLIANT IDEA!
I mean, I love how restaurants are willing to take reservations and also accommodate walk ins. I don't think in Melbourne, having one or the other works. Think of my mamasita experience(s), as from here on end, everytime I have to wait from now to forever for seats I will compare it to mamasita.
Getting seats at Coda on a Saturday night at 6pm was painless. No queues, no wait. The place is on Oliver lane, off Flinders Lane, which unlike the restaurant across from it (Yu-u) is well signed and easily identifiable. It sits at basement level,which is deceptive given the entrance doesn't require you to go down a flight of stairs.
We let the waiter choose 4 of our dishes to start with. A procession of morsels of food, which was focused primarily on Vietnamese dishes, with a cross over to other asian regions. Usual suspects of "rice paper spring rolls", "Hanoi rolls", "Betel leaf with stuff" featured. Other interesting dishes included quail with a rif raf of stuff san choi bao style.
The Vietnamese influence is pronounced, but to say it is influenced purely by that cuisine is not quite corerct. Accents of other asian cuisines make it onto the menu.
It is really hard to talk about a place where the offering is something that I have been exposed to all my life. Growing up in a family with diverse south-east asian influences means much of the flavours, herbs and spices used were all so familiar. Something as obscure as the paddy rice herb, which isn't the easiest thing to find in markets, was something I remember seeing my grandmother grow from nothing more than cuttings and water.
I often say this to people that claim I eat out too much - I always tell them, it is not just about the food when you go out to dine, whether it be a casual bar/restaurant or a three hat restuarant with an impressive list of accolades it is always about the package - the space, the style, the experience. Coda for what it is, a schmick basement joint pumping out good food, you really can't go wrong. This is on my list of venues to definitely return to.
Coda, Basement 141 Flinders Lane (cnr Oliver Lane), Melbourne CBD