Friday, 31 July 2009


Kekeke. I couldn’t stop thinking about the cheesiness… while I was eating at Da D’Sylva’s Coda.

One of the most anticipated openings of the year. Adam D’Sylva branching out on a his first solo venture. The Age’s 2008 young chef of the year. Of Longrain and Pearl pedigree. A spell at Thomas Keller’s Per Se. A floor team from some of Melbourne’s finest. Oh yeah, excitement plus.

Which is kind of a bit odd when you see more people milling around the stylishly hip, dark and moody designed bar area that’s so Melbourne laneway basement, drinking biers, wines and cocktails rather than downing the food in the separated sit down area.

Fair enough too when the Asian, Euro inspired menu is designed so that those who want an unstructured night out can still have a quality bite, and those die hard foodies can create their own degustations with the smaller dishes and bigger sharing plates.

So what are those boozing and snoozing and missing out on? First up a creation that comes straight out of the Longrain recipe book, a beetle leaf is the green platform for shredded spanner crab, galangal, roasted chilli adds mild heat, a squeeze of lime provides refreshing acidity. Scallops are roasted to perfection, served in its shell in a pool of creamy pearl tapioca, salty pops from the orange balls of salmon caviar. Sweet potato shreds are deep fried with school prawns to form a fritter, the roasted chilli dip an amazing balance of heat and flavour to complement. These three very nice in their own right though taking a little something from three other Melbourne heavyweights is a little bit dangerous.

Unfortunately the next couple aren’t as impressive. Nuoc cham Vietnamese style dipping sauce is fine but the Hanoi style deep fried rice paper rolls aren’t, the inner sheets slightly gooey and undercooked and masking the flavour of the filling. It’s salt on salt, the ponzu soy’s weak acidity does little to balance out the saltiness of a seven spiced fried battered cuttlefish.

There is redemption in a never fail “meat and meat” combo of roasted chicken wing stuffed with pork, the hero of the night being the sizzling plate of prawns, soft, gelatinous kingbrown mushrooms lathered in a flavour bursting brown sauce of chilli, fresh green peppercorns and plenty of sweet thai basil that you’d be happy drinking straight.

And all is forgiven by the time you finish dessert. A taste plate of baked lemon tart with a yuzu marshmellow so spongy soft you’d want dive head first into leaves you wondering where’s the rest, the second part is one that makes you curious but exhilarated. A small vase holds a creamy Valrhona chocolate custard, dotted with hazelnut brittle for crunch, a pumpkin foam works beautifully. Souffle of the night was banana served in a cute mini copper pot, drizzle on sherry to taste, the honey and date ice cream complements and ties everything together.

This review has gotten too long. Much like a Dan Brown book. There will be sceptics, but most should enjoy this Code-Da like I did.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 141 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC
What? Smaller dishes $5 – 15, Bigger $29 – 35, Desserts $10 - 18

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