Archive for March 28th, 2010

March 28, 2010

Sweatshop, Melbourne

by minibites

After a full tum, head downstairs to the Sweatshop hide away in one of the corners with a quirky cocktail or a beer. The atmosphere down here is similar to other Melbourian bars where it’s time to relax, the music is quirky yet subtle and the mood is upbeat. The theme is carried throughout the bar, and there are rolls of fabric lining the roof, balls of yarn and wooden crates to sit on. Perfect to kick start a night of bar hopping.

Basement, 113 Lonsdale St

SweatShop on Urbanspoon

March 28, 2010

Seamstress, Melbourne

by minibites

The first time I hunted this hidden gem down, I was faced with big wooden doors – big wooden closed doors. Sad, hungry and disappointed, I made it my mission to return to see what all the fuss was about. Many of my colleagues have ranted and raved about this restaurant bar – the quirkiness of the interior, great service and new take on Asian cuisine. Step inside the world of great interiors – antique Singer sewing machines, hanging plants in test tubes and wonderfully draped light fabrics creating a tent-like atmosphere into the restaurant.

Amuze-bouche of a pork wonton served in duck broth

Greeted by our hostess, we order Asian beers and a range of dishes to share. Seamstress’ dining concept is similar to other Asian cultures where dishes are ordered to share – which made our token vegetarian very unlucky that night. Our amuze-bouche comes out and I’m delighted – simple and flavoursome, and it I want more! It’s a simple pork wonton served in a wonderful duck broth. I would have slurped the broth but that’s just unladylike…

Chalkboard special: Crispy quail served with five spice and lime

Tempura of zucchini flowers filled with baby button mushrooms, binnorie fetta and roast roma tomato sauce

The dishes begin to roll out and we begin with the special of the night, crispy quail with five spice. Teased as the “anti-quail woman” of the night, I caved into peer pressure and enjoyed the dish entirely. It may be as simple as a smear of different spices and salts but the quail was well cooked, boneless and balanced. The dash of acidity from the lime definitely topped it off.

Also not a fan of zucchini, I was hesitant to try the zucchini flowers. Surprising my mouth was a rush of textures and flavours; freshness and crunch from the zucchini, seasoned tempura coating and a melted mix of cheese and mushrooms. At this stage, I’m becoming a fan of everything that I never used to like.

Caramelised wild harvest scallops stuffed with “harm yee” on poached iceberg lettuce & saffron butter sauce

“Chinatown style” bbq duck with sweet pickled lemons on perfumed rice & choy sum

The next dishes roll out and we tuck into the seared scallops. Wonderfully large and seared, they’re a seafood treat. The duck is wonderfully tender but I do question its companions; the pickled lemons are a little unusual for me and the perfumed rice is slightly overcooked (to the point it becomes a mushy mess) but overall, I’m not too fussed.

12 hour braised berkshire pork belly, drunken potatoes, steamed baby bok choy and star anise caramel

Along with the five-spice quail, this is probably one of my favourite dishes. The care and love that has been put into cooking this dish shows by the taste. Wonderfully crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The drunken potatoes are amazing; it feels like a kick and punch to my taste buds.

Rhubarb and marscapone filled pancakes, crumbed rhubarb candy topped with pistachio fairy floss and quince sorbet

Yin & Yang of valrhona chocolate with pina colada mousse, pineapple and saffron compote and coconut marshmellows

Bursting at the seams, we suck it in for desserts to share. The pancakes were a disappointment, not what I had imagined and components on the dish didn’t flow very well together. Although, the Ying & Yang delivered deliciousness. It was the perfect dessert to share, with an array of flavours from the bitterness of the chocolate, the airy-ness of the foam, slight sourness of the pineapple and the sweetness and crunchiness of the marshmellows. Definitely delivering a “ying-yang” dessert of flavours and textures.

Seamstress has done an amazing job at keeping Asian cuisine simple and clean but adding a nice modern touch of quirkiness. It has definitely reignited my grass roots and a love for Asian cuisine. Don’t forget to book, and to visit the Sweatshop for a drink, or two.

Level 1, 113 Lonsdale St

Seamstress on Urbanspoon