If I travelled to work in my helicopter, had truffles with my ham and Helga’s sandwich for lunch and used gold ink to pen this crap f-log, I’d probably have the coin to eat the inspirations at Verge on a regular basis.
Thankfully Simon Denton and co have followed the current trend set by other elite dining colleagues opening up more casual venues for a bit of booze and a bit of foodze at normal prices. Bottom of the stairs at 114 Russell is Izakaya Den, a long basement with an industrial, grudge edge of an indie rock band bar (see (International) Noise Conspiracy) and dim lighting that makes 5/10 guys 7/10. A quality selection of sake, wine, birru and cha helps push the scores higher.
The menu, of course, remains rooted in Japan and far simpler than the fine diner. In it comes raw stuff such as the silky slices of kingfish in a sesame dominated oil and semi-raw spicy tuna tataki sitting on a splodge of garlic soy. Both are a must. Fully cooked potato croquette with a feeble wasabi cream left my Irish guest wondering where the spud was, but redemption in a house fried chicken kaarage, grilled yakitori style ox tongue topped with finely chopped spring onion and a wonderful ocean trout.
Mmmmm that tuna, I suspect dreams about private aircrafts, expensive fungus and ridiculous writing implements will be replaced by more obtainable things from the den at 114.
3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 114 Russell St, Melbourne, VIC
What? Dishes around $15