Day/Night 5 – Melbourne, Old and New

After having dim sum yesterday in a modern setting, today it was time to do the same in the Melbourne institution, Flower Drum. One of the tricks that I’ve used for years when traveling is to do lunch at the really famous (and usually, really expensive) spots as it’s easier to book and typically much cheaper. Flower Drum was no exception based on what I saw with the menus on line. Unlike the graffiti alleyway entrance of Lee Ho Fook, this was much more traditional, both outside and in.

After being greeted by the host (no free beer though alas), I was confronted with the massive menu, which seemed to have an endless number of options. Not entirely sure how to tackle it, I decided to start simple with a scallop siu mai and what I had heard was one of their specialities – braised lamb spring rolls with lamb gravy.

The siu mai had a generous amount of scallops with a nice chewy wrapping – simple but good. The lamb spring rolls, however, were another level entirely. The unctuous, tender lamb meat was mixed with some bean sprouts and the light fried wrapped was ultra crispy. But it was the lamb gravy dip, rich and deep with flavor, that really made it otherworldly. Outstanding.

Next up were the Duck wontons with tangerine peel in roast duck reduction.

The wontons were full of the roasted duck with some herbs to break up the richness. The star though was the duck reduction, which I ended up finishing off as a soup. Delicious.

Last up, I ordered one of their specialities, which caught my server off guard because it actually wasn’t on the menu. He explained it would take a little while to make which I said was fine.

Behold! The Potato Pear – Fried pear shaped potato croquette with chicken, quail, duck liver sausage, asparagus, mushrooms and water chestnuts. The best way to describe this is it was like eating a mini meat pie but with potatoes instead of a flaky crust. It was pretty damn great and very filling so I was glad I had decided to make it my final course.

Needing to walk off that last dish, I noticed that about a mile away was the famous Lune bakery, world renown for the only thing they make – croissants. I had heard they usually sell out by noon but decided to risk it even though it was soon their closing time of 2pm. As I figured, they were indeed completely sold out so alas no pics/reviews for you, dear readers.

I had passed by the sign above walking up to Lune and in the now slightly rainy weather, it seemed like a good time for some tasters. James Squire proudly proclaimed to be the first microbrewery in Melbourne. The beers weren’t quite at the level of the Collingwood ones but the English brown ale and especially the smoked porter were a nice way to wait for the rain to subside a bit.

After some blogging (yes, my work is never done), rest and giving my barking dogs some relief, I was soon back in an Uber to check out a new wine bar in Fitzroy that had been getting a good reputation. The Napier Quarter owner had also suggested it to me so off to Bar Liberty!

They had initially set me up at the bar but I asked if I could get a table instead, which turned out to be in the smaller back room.

The server suggested a Cab Franc, which I really didn’t care for and quickly replaced it with this much better option that was similar to the first glass I had at Napier Quarter – light and very refreshing.

I decided to again just try a few smaller dishes, looking for things I hadn’t had yet but were Australian influenced. In this case, pierogi of smoked eel and lamb tongue with an apple and garum glaze. Both were quite tasty and a nice way to start.

I switched to something a bit heavier for my second glass – a local Sangiovese blend as I selected another couple of dishes. First up was Heirloom Zucchini, Mead Vinegar, Lovage and Buckwheat. Basically a zucchini salad with the sharp acidic vinegar to add flavor. Last up I needed some starch so I went with confit local potatoes with preserved lemon and mustard. The chunky bits in the picture were the chopped on preserved lemons, which went great with rich potatoes and tangy mustard.

I was pretty full so after chatting with the chef about some Sydney recommendations, I said my goodbyes and made my way back home. Tomorrow was the homestretch of my time in Melbourne with a bit of shopping and a final epic meal.


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