When: Monday-Friday 12pm-late, Saturday 6pm-late Sundays: December, functions.
Where:27 Mc Killop Street Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9603 1601
Vegetarian banquet available
CC & EFTPOS available
My first initial impression of Red Spice Road was mixed; it was huge and with the majority of the space occupied by a few single monster tables, it felt more like a function venue than a restaurant. Chic as it may be, practical as I’m sure it is the whole boarding-school dining-room feel was not enticing for me. To be fair however, the noise level from the patrons sitting right next to me was surprisingly non-intrusive as it absorbed into the large space. Tasteful trip-hop pulsing crisply through the air couldn’t have hurt either. Visibility was comfortably low; the dining room illuminated softly by large hanging orbs. So I was subdued by the beauty of the place and so was able to handle sharing my table with the entire restaurant.
My partner and I made an early booking to take advantage of the ridiculously good value out-before-7pm weekday special. Diners all receive the same appetiser then select three of five available mains to share. This is all ordered from a special banquet menu (but the pork belly features on the main menu). Watch out vegetarians, there’s nothing here for you in this banquet. Steamed Jasmine rice is included and dessert is five dollars extra. All this is twenty-five dollars per person for a minimum of two people. Our choices of mains were as follows, Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel, Apple Slaw and Black Vinegar. Chicken Larb- Minced Chicken Salad with Coriander, Mint, Chilli, Kaffir Lime and Roasted Rice Powder. Beef Rendang- Malaysian Beef Curry with Coconut, Potato and Cucumber Relish.
Beef Rendang- Malaysian Beef Curry with Coconut, Potato and Cucumber Relish
We didn’t think that the serves would be generous but they were and could have easily fed a third person. You know that feeling when something is so tasty your mouth and your tummy are at war over whether to stop or continue eating? Well that happened. Good old Red Spice Road knows how to please a glutton. While the betel leaf appetizers (topped with tiny chicken morsels, chilli, coriander and lemongrass) were mere mouthfuls, yet delicious. The mains were generous bowls piled high, all presenting a good proportion of vegetables or salad to meat. People rave about the pork belly at Red Spice Road and I’m no different. Sitting in a palm-sugar caramel syrup with spicy Vietnamese mint salad, this meat was so tender and creamy that it felt like butter in my mouth. The edges were a little charred which added a welcome smokiness to the dish.
Then there was the beef rendang; something usually so hard to get right. It was fantastic to enjoy this curry without it being too salty or too sweet yet still full-flavoured. The beef was very fatty though, and because it was disguised in the gravy I couldn’t anticipate which pieces were going to have a layer of fat on them or not, which meant that I ate much less of this dish than the others. I was glad that there were wholesome chunks of potato to snap up too. The cucumber salad with coconut on the top was a welcome refreshing crunch.
Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel, Apple Slaw and Black Vinegar
Chicken Larb was our third main and probably the least interesting of the three, although nothing about it was unpleasant. Just a little on the salty side and not as complex in flavour as the others.
After all of this I was actually really sad that I didn’t have room for dessert. For an extra five dollars the Pandan Cream Coconut Jelly, Peanut Praline, Puffed Wild Rice, Tapioca Pearls and Coconut Ice-cream sounded dreamy. We did however blow some money on drinks. I had the Cherry Martini which was delicious but not very strong.
I was really happy with the service at Red Spice Road. I was worried we might somehow be treated differently for coming in for the cheap dinner special but the vibe is surprisingly casual for a deluxe sort of eatery. We enjoyed lightening fast service, and genuine, friendly faces. I would definitely come back for the $25 special or an inventive cocktail (which may not knock you flat but still keep manage to interesting). It is a shame I can’t bring my vegetarian friends to the banquet, but at least I can tell them all about it.
Cherry Cocktail (Martini) $17