Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Ben Cousins, Chris Brown, Mickey Rourke - some people felt the need to give them a second chance, so I went forth to the top of flinders lane to give Verge another go. After my horrible first visit where the service was bad to the point our waitress insinuated we were leaving without paying the bill, I entered the restaurant with an air of apprehension - but just like Mickey Rourke, giving second chances can bring oscar worthy performances.

The restaurant decor had not changed since my last visit, and nor had the structure of the menu. Perched on the second floor - we looked through glass walls to a pleasant view of Parliament House . We overlooked the a la carte menu and opted for the reasonably priced tasting menu ($90 for 5 courses - with matching wines $140). Although I am unable to remember all of the wines we tasted - this was the most perfect wine/food matchings i've had. We had a waiter of Japanese descent who was both professional and personable - a polar opposite to the waiter I had at my last visit.

Not long after ordering the procession of beautifully presented food arrived, starting with marinated sardines with compressed watermelon, picked rind, bonito gel with a candied nori crisp. There were a range of strong and different flavours in this dish, and ran the risk of being too much of an assault on the palette. However it was quite the opposite, and although it felt like there was party in my mouth - it was still easy to discern each individual taste from the saltiness of the sardines to the freshness of the watermelon all the way to the sweet crispiness of the candied nori. This dish was a great example of how being bold and aggressive with flavours can pay off in spades.

The next dish that arrived was one we requested - eel tortellini served with cauliflower, puffed rice, miso powder and spring onion. Two tasty morsels of eel wrapped in silky al dente pasta came served with an array of items that added extra texture and flavour. The crunch and sourness of the puffed rice was a perfect foil to the smooth parcels of eel. Another great dish - served with quite an obscure German pinot gris. At this point there was a giddy feeling amongst our group, as expectations grew knowing that the excellent first dish was not a fluke & we hoped we would continue to be amazed.

Our first main arrived - Glazed pork belly with pigs ear/salted tomato and grape puree, the consensus best dish of the night (probably due to our Asian heritage). The perfectly cooked pork belly was served with a twist on the traditional condiments - with the crispy pigs ear serving as an innovative alternative to crackling and the grape puree substituting for apple sauce. Each mouthful melted tenderly - the only disappointment was when I realised I had eaten it all.

Comparatively our final savoury dish was our least favourite dish of the night, however that is not to say that it was not enjoyable and truly flavoursome. It was a portion of lamb rump, served with lamb tortellini, leek, fungi and liquid olive. There appeared to be more complexity to this dish, the liquid olive served as an interesting sauce for the other earthy flavours. A very solid and yummy course - the only problem was it not preceded by three incredibly delicious ones.

We were fortunate enough to have two different desserts, served randomly between us. Lemon Curd, chocolate mousse, popcorn & cumquats was one, and the other was a warm ginger and pear cake served with soy caramel, condensed milk ice cream and sherry foam. Importantly, both desserts were neither too sweet nor too boring - with a range of flavours and textures presented with each - it was hard to draw consensus on which was better.

This second visit to Verge was one of my more memorable dining experiences. It was hard to believe that this was the same restaurant I had visited the year prior - the service, food, wine & atmosphere had shifted 180 degrees, and it's clear to me now why this is one of Melbourne's most loved restaurants.

4.5/5 Yums!

Where? 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC
What? Entrees $20, Mains $35, Degustation $90

1 comment:

Prasangi said...

ya for second chances.. almost curious to venture there again.. almost.. :P

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