36 Manchester Lane,Melbourne Ph 03 9663 0630
What a beautiful way to spend an evening, enjoying the sounds of an amazing local singer at one of the grooviest bars in town. Manchester Lane is known around the traps as the best Jazz Venue in town and rightly so. They have entertainment on there pretty much every night, supporting some of our country's best musical talent.
Rach had purchased us both tickets to see ex Leonardo's Bride singer Abby Dobson play one of her first shows since moving to Melbourne.
We discovered by checking out the Manchester Lane website that if you are there for dinner, you actually get one of the tables, right at the front (everyone else is behind you). If you have a quick look over their menu and you're like me, you will be thinking how good all the dishes sound. The menu actually reads like a really nice, slightly adventurous Melbourne restaurant. Bonus! So after reading the menu online we were definately up for having dinner there.
When we arrived, we were definately right about getting the good view. All the tables were at the front of the room and have a pretty good view of the stage. The wait staff seemed pretty excited to take our orders, as it seemed we were pretty much the only seated people to be eating. Did the other people know something we didn't? We decided to go with Mains and Dessert for tonight.
I ordered the Cumin chicken pollpetini in velvet white wine sauce, tossed with fresh tomato, garden peas, sugar snap peas and tagliatelle ($21). The only way I can describe this dish is slop! There was nothing velvet like about the sauce, it barely even tasted of wine. There was of course the over-powering taste of chicken stock. Tomato? There was supposed to be Tomatoes in there? Oh, and the Cumin Chicken 'meatballs'? There was so much Cumin in there that it was like eating Curried Pasta. Not good.
Rach ordered the Morton bay bug meat tossed with Squid Ink pasta in lemon butter sauce ($23). This dish was slightly tastier, but I wouldn't really call the sauce Lemon Butter Sauce. It literally tasted like a Lemon was squeezed over the top of the pasta. There wasn't that much Bug Meat in there either and it was more like Squid meat, than Bug meat.
For dessert, Rach ordered Honeycomb semi freddo wrapped in bitter dark chocolate leaf with peanut butter cookie and 42 below "Manuka" honey vodka syrup ($12). Admittedly this was presented a little better than the earlier meals. The Vodka syrup tasted like drizzled honey more than anything else. The honeycomb semi freddo was actually quite decent too.
Silly me thought I would go for the simple option and they wouldn't be able to mess it up. So, I chose the Vanilla crème brulee with house baked apricot brioche ($12). The crispy golden sugar crust on top of the Brulee was perfect. Cracking with a little tap of my spoon. Underneath though, lurked the dreaded overcooked custard. Creme Brulee is meant to be 'just' set. This was well over cooked and was like a sweet omlette. The house made Apricot Brioche wasn't like any Brioche I'd tasted before. It kind of fell apart when i picked it up and was dry, yet doughy at the same time. I only had one bite and left the rest.
So, overall the night was great, the entertainment was amazing, the venue was perfect, but the food was a huge let down. The quality seriously reminded me of the food what was cooked when I was at TAFE, not by myself obviously, but by the people who failed the course! It's one thing to be able to write a great sounding menu, but it's another to be able to pull it off. The venue needs to either hire new kitchen staff, write a simpler menu or get Gordon Ramsay in from 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' and get him to sort it out.