The boy and I decided, one night, we both hadn’t experienced the Melbourne food scene as much as we perhaps should have in our time here. With nearly 10 years of living ‘Down Under’ between us we’d barely scratch the surface.
So we’ve decided that every pay-day Friday we’re going to treat ourselves. This Friday was the first: Spice Temple in the Crown complex was my choice and I thought I’d use this space to write a mini review.
As I was organising, I didn’t actually get around to booking anything until the day before and so used my lunchtime to trawl through The Age Good Food Guide for their recommendations. I chose Spice Temple because they had retained their one hat from the previous year showing consistency and, to me, one hat meant posh but not ridiculously expensive. Plus they catered for my favourite mode of booking – online! It was easy-peasy to check availability and select our preferred slot in minutes. I was also pleased to see that there was no minimum number of guests for the banquet and the terms and conditions were sensible rather than school rule-esque.
I chose the 6-8pm slot thinking 2 hours would be just enough time without being rushed. As it happened, we arrived a bit early, I’m always a bit apprehensive about Crown, it’s so vast and so many different bits to it. I always need to factor in ‘getting lost’ time when going somewhere a bit new. We were about 30 minutes early but though we’d be able to have a drink at the bar or something. It had said on the website, they had a bar we could be moved to if we ran over our allocated 2 hour slot. I asked the girl at the front desk who apologised saying they weren’t open yet but to have a drink in the sister bar – The Waiting Room. It seemed apt, but the location wasn’t. We were basically sat in the hotel lobby and as grand as Crown Towers is, the boy wasn’t impressed.
We ordered drinks from a very attentive and reassuringly down to earth waitress, a champagne cocktail for me and an espresso martini for me. At $19 a pop I thought it pretty reasonable, it’s a shame the initial attentiveness didn’t continue. We’d drank 3 glasses of water before our cocktail arrived and then had to gulp them down to get back over to the restaurant. I know it was Friday night but it wasn’t that busy. It also would have been nice to have been able to take our drinks through and add the bill onto our meal – just saying.
Spice Temple is all about worshiping the spice and good ingredients whisked up in a Chinese theme. Our waiter took his time to explain the menu to us, including pointing out his personal favourite dishes which was really helpful. We ordered another cocktail according to our Chinese star sign and plumed for the $95 banquet. It was a difficult choice though, it all looked yummy.
Stand out dishes for me:
– The cabbage and radish pickles were perfect in between dishes to cool and cleanse the palette – especially after the tingling prawns.
– Tofu and egg salad was beautiful and might have successfully converted the boy to appreciating tofu as more than ‘just hippy gunge’
– The lamb shoulder was the best lamb dish I’ve ever eaten, I was craving it again the next day.
We went with the waiter’s suggested dessert cocktail which I was heartened to accept considering by this stage we were already 30 minutes over our alloted sitting. We weren’t rushed through the meal, we given enough time in between dishes to digest and our glasses were topped up sufficiently not to encourage a 2nd bottle but just get us through the meal.
The only bad note of the evening was as soon as it was apparent we had finished, the waiter lost all interest and herded us off to the front desk to pay. I asked if we could get a table at the downstairs bar to have another drink, he snapped to ask the front desk if there was room. They were busy at this point and clearly they wanted to turn the table round for the next sitting, but his attitude did leave us our experience on a bad note. We paid and left, choosing to have another drink in another bar to finish off the evening.
All in all though a lovely evening. 8/10