Sunday, May 20, 2007


Basement, 115-117 Collins St, (ph)1300 799 415

This was my second visit to the much hyped Fifteen Melbourne. My first visit was the night that it opened to the public last year. We thought being so lucky to get a booking on the public opening night, we would have been sure to see Jamie in person, maybe even watch him helping out at the pass. Unfortunately, Jamie left earlier that day, to return to his family in the UK - how inconsiderate. At that time, I hadn't started my blog yet, so I don't have any photos from that night to show you. I can tell you though that we paid about $100 each that night for a set menu. We really felt that night, that the meal was over priced, especially since we didn't get the added bonus of seeing Jamie!

While reading Epicure on Tuesday this week, I noticed that Fifteen have a lunch special happening at the moment; 2 courses and a glass of local wine for $28. That sounded like a great deal to me. One problem though would be, last I heard the place was booked out for months in advance, so I was hesitant about even bothering. I'm glad I did though, because when I called and asked if they had any availability for 4 people on Thursday or Friday, they said they had plenty! I wonder if they are having trouble pulling a crowd? Maybe once everyone has been once - that was enough?

We arrived at our 12:30 booking, after battling our way through a rare Melbourne down-pour.
Down the stairs we trotted, past the fish bowl window at the bottom of the stairs which looks into the kitchen. Fifteen is a beautifully designed restaurant which is set across 3 rooms. The first is the long bar area, which has a huge colourful wall of wines featured behind it.

The next room is one of the 2 main dining areas. This one is light and bright, with a view, directly into the beautifully equipped, very large kitchen. The room has a grand, golden framed mirror on the back wall. The third room is a darker room, with dark wooden chairs and tables and is more intimate than the others.

We are offered the menus by our waiter, who kindly explains the menu and the lunch deal. The lunch deal that we're after only comprises of two choices from each of the Entree, Pasta/Risotto and dessert menus. You can choose any of the two courses for the set price. We decided to go with the Entree and Pasta option, rather than Dessert.
Two of us ordered the Bruschetta of sautéed forest mushrooms and shaved parmesan, which was simply just the best! The bread was nicely toasted, with just the right amount of charcoal. The Mushrooms themselves were amazing, they were just like the ones Jamie talks about on his shows. Perfectly sauteed and dressed in Olive Oil and a touch of lemon juice. The whole thing was topped with some Rocket leaves and shavings of Parmesan.
The other guys ordered the Butternut Pumpkin Squash soup. This soup was so thick, you could literally eat it with a fork. It was chunky and sweet, with pieces of Parma Ham and Barley throughout. Just the thing to warm the cockles of your heart after being soaked in the rain.
Since I had the Mushrooms for entree, I passed on the Mushroom Risotto and ordered the Pappardelle with braised shin of beef ragu and orange and rosemary gremolata. I would have never have thought to put orange rind into a Beef Ragu, but it definitely worked! I'd never even heard of such a combo before, but it was great. The orange taste wasn't over powering, but it was definitely present, keeping your taste buds buzzing and cutting through the heaviness of the meat. The combo apparently wasn't for everyone as my friend who also ordered this, wasn't a huge fan. The pasta was perfectly rolled and was silky smooth. Delicious!
The other guys on the table did order the Risotto of seasonal mushrooms and melted fontina cheese. It was of course, 'oozy', just like Jamie would have it. The rice was perfectly cooked and nicely seasoned, helped along by the Parmesan mixed through. The same wild Mushrooms seemed to be used in this, as were on my Bruschetta.
The first time we visited Fifteen, we were kind of disappointed. Simply because we had such high expectations of the food - especially for the $100 per head. We didn't think at the time that the food was worth paying that much for and told ourselves that we were paying for the experience more than anything else. But after visiting for a second time, I realised that Fifteen isn't out to do 'fancy food'. If you want fancy, then go to Ezard (of course), Pearl, Longrain, etc. What fifteen does is pretty much traditional Italian food, but it is done well- extremely well, using brilliant ingredients - the best available. The kids there and their trainers do a great job of preparing the food and they should be applauded for their efforts on how far they have come.

The $28 lunch time meal is brilliant value for money and it's really worth taking advantage of while it's available. While we didn't see anyone famous again this time - (not even Tobie) we left very happy and looking forward to returning again soon.

Top Notch, Back to Basics, Great Value Lunch

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