680 Victoria St, Richmond. Ph 03 9427 8500
Set next to the Yarra in Richmond, just down from Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre and virtually in the same building as Nova 100 Radio Station is another one of Melbourne's big names, Fenix. The home of Mr Molecular Gastronome himself, Raymond Capaldi.
Since the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is in full swing, Rach and I decided to take advantage of the Express Lunch option at Fenix, which gets you two courses and a glass of Victorian vino for $30 per head. Bargain!
Fenix apparently had a recent -very expensive makeover, which I think has left the room looking amazing. I'm not sure what it looked like before, as this was my first visit, but we were definately impressed. Fenix is classy with a capital 'C'! I'm not used to visiting classy restaurants like this for lunch, but I think this might change now. Everything seems different at a restaurant in the afternoon. Everything is so bright, especially with the sun shining in through the big windows over the yarra trees and the Victoria St Bridge.
The waiter showed us to our table, a nice little table right in the corner with lots of privacy, but right next to the huge windows looking across the Yarra towards Hawthorn.
Everything at Fenix is just right, the tables are set perfectly with slightly odd shaped utensils, the menus are covered with a nice soft micro-suede like material, which matches the suede covered delightfully comfy chairs.
Our 'just right' lunch experience started off with house-made Ciabatta which perfectly warm and soft in the middle. I'm pretty sure this is the best restaurant bread I've eaten and I'm glad they gave us seconds! The little bars of butter were served on what I think was a block of marble, sprinkled with thyme leaves and sea salt flakes.
Given we were ordering from the Express menu, I was disappointed that there were no slightly 'weird' options available, which is Mr Capaldi's signature. Instead there were things like Sweet Pea Risotto and Schnitzel of Atlantic Salmon.
To start, I ordered a Yellow Pepper soup with Haddock. The soup was an amazing yellow colour with delicious soft flakes of Salty fish throughout. It wasn't 'weird' as such, but there were tastes in there that I hadn't really tasted together before, it was fantastic! Rach had Goat's Cheese Stuffed Courgette Flowers with a salad of watermelon, tomato and Herb Oil. Once again the flavours were so fresh and the goats cheese perfectly creamy. Perfect for an early Autumn lunch in the sun.
For mains, we both went for the 36 Hour Slow Cooked Lamb, with baby potatoes and eggplant. It just sounded too enticing to not try! If someone has gone to the trouble to cook something for 36 hours, it had to be good. And it was! Oh my god, the meat, was so, so soft! It literally fell apart as soon as the fork touched it! Our servings were quite small and we were disappointed when they were placed on the table, but once we started eating, we understood why they were small. The meat was very rich and the potatoes looked to be coated with lots of oil and butter, which always leaves you feeling full. The lamb was simply amazing, probably some of the best meat I have ever eaten anywhere. By the time we finished our meal we were as full as could be. Thankfully this express lunch was only two courses, because I don't think we could have fit anything else in!
Fenix, is a beautiful place, one of the slickest restaurants I've seen. The staff were very professional, but not very smiley or talkative it seemed. Maybe they're just less friendly to the Express Lunch Customers. It was early on Sunday afternoon, so maybe they had hangovers, but hey, it was the end of daylight savings so they had an extra hours sleep!
I'm looking forward to visiting Fenix again for lunch, but next time I definately want to sample some of Mr Capaldi's signature Molecular' dishes which he is famous for.
Comfy, Slick, Bright and Simply Delicious!