Tuesday, February 15, 2011
To me, a temple is a place for reverence. To name a restaurant the Spice Temple is to, perhaps quite deliberately, set expectations high. The space itself is indeed stunning with rose coloured glass filtering the setting sun during high summer as it looks out to the Yarra makes it quite a seductive dining room.
The space however, is incredibly dark with movable table lights which overhangs the tables allowing the light to focus in on the dishes on demand. Great design feature.
Chinese food in general does not inspire me to look beyond what is being offered. It often does not provide motivation, creativity or a feeling of well being. Perhaps it is the ongoing bastardisation of the cuisine in every way shape and form with the quality of ingredients, and produce, sometimes being masked by the strong and overpowering flavours, which I strongly note are generally steeped in calories. Harsh comments? Yes, but I call it as I see it. Perhaps its the chinese restaurants I goto, but really, it's the same dish over and over again.
I was hoping the Spice Temple would differ from your typical chinese restaurant, and in all fairness, it is. Is it traditional? I really don't know - I don't have a benchmark from which I can compare.
We started with "tingling" prawns which was a cold prawn salad with green chillis etc. The presence of szechuan peppers clearly in play. Excellent balance of flavours and something I would easily eat over and over.
Next was the steamed eggplant with 3 flavours of 3 times blanched garlic, coriander and mince meat. Man, I love eggplant and I loved this dish. Nothing more to be said.
Lamb dumplings - pan fried and steamed . There were mixed opinions on the dumplings given they are so classical in Chinese cuisine, that it was difficult to not compare with other types of dumplings. The skin was quite thick and the lamb meat quite pungent. Only let down is that it was quite oily - but what dumplings aren't?
I want to start the review of desserts by saying that desserts at the Spice Temple were freaken fantastic. Perhaps it is my sugar depravation (self inflicted of course), but for "pre made" cold desserts. They were excellent. Completely different to Rockpool where it can be quite disappointing.
The Spice Temple, is definitely a restaurant well worth visiting. It offers something slightly different to what is currently (or to my limited knowledge) available in Melbourne. The flavours are bold with a clear vision of what it is trying to achieve. The space is fantastic, in spite of the darkness. The service was attentive, perhaps a little too attentive but honestly, I'm not that much of a bastard to bitch about someone trying to do their job well. (or did that count?).
Special mention needs to goto their cocktails menu - how could I seriously resist when you can just say I'll have a HORSE...I'll have a RABBIT. Not quite sure whether or not I should've ordered the Rabbit, is it inauspicious to order a boozy drink with the same zodiac name as the year? Just in case you don't know, we're in the Year of the Rabbit.
Spice Temple, Crown, Melbourne
Posted by Dave at 10:56 PM