It was a 4 week long whirlwind! iMac’s parents, Crusher and Mrs Crusher, were visiting from Scotland. They love the Melbourne food scene – and iMac, being a powerhouse of organisation, had created a gruelling culinary itinerary for them. It seemed to me that they were eating out almost every night, along with winery tours, theatre nights the VIP experience at Taste of Melbourne. I was fortunate enough to be adopted for various nights of the four weeks, and joined them on some of their adventures.
Tonight was our first evening out altogether. It was a theatre night where we would see South Pacific at the Comedy Theatre. So an early and quick dinner was in order so that we could make the 7:30pm curtain! Punch Lane is apparently one of their solid favourites. I was curious, as I had walked passed it many times but had never eaten there.
Inside the ambience is great – very relaxing, with deep comfortable chairs and good, attentive service. Perusing the menu I was fascinated to see that you could order any of the mains as an entrée as well! What a great idea!
King George whiting, Romesco, cornichon & Dijon salad, toasted sesame
For his entrée, Crusher chose the King George Whiting – he was very impressed as he quickly demolished it. iMac tells me that as she was growing up, in her household, if you even paused before starting your meal – it would soon be inhaled by the two guys in the family! This explains a lot!
Roast short rib, white bean puree, green bean salad, rosemary dressing
For her entrée, Mrs Crusher ordered the short ribs. She thought it was lovely, that the meat was tender and the accompaniments of pureed white bean and green bean and watercress salad delicious.
Grilled baby calamari, apple & fennel salad, chorizo & pickled rhubarb
iMac had the grilled baby calamari with a beautifully fresh apple and fennel salad, accented with the luscious smokiness of chorizo.
Victorian asparagus, Parisian gnocchi, green tomato & currants
I had the Victorian asparagus with gnocchi – it was amazing. This was a really lovely dish with just the right balance of richness from the gnocchi and freshness from the asparagus. This is a dish I wouldn’t hesitate to order again. It was a textural cornucopia – a very easy to love dish.
Grain fed striploin – Entrée size
Grain fed beef sirloin, spring peas, kipfler potatoes, red peppers, confit organic garlic – Main size
For mains, Crusher chose the beef sirloin, and Mrs Crusher ordered the entrée version. It was served with a beautiful melange of vegetables including peas and kipfler potatoes. Both were very satisfied with the dish, and Mrs Crusher observed that she thought the entrée size was plenty big enough.
Roast duck breast, confit thigh, braised duck pithivier, courgette & beetroot salad
Both iMac and I ordered the duck – it’s a meat we find hard to resist! And this dish was essentially duck three ways. First you had the roasted duck breast, which was served very rare (and as a result was a little tough), then you had the confit leg which was absolutely beautifully tender and pull apart. And finally, this gorgeous duck pithivier!
The pithivier was a lovely foil to the other components, with its glazed flaky pastry exterior, and filled with meltingly tender duck meat. All these ducky components were beautifully offset by a fresh salad. At $52 though – it’s an expensive dish which should really be executed flawlessly, and I’m not sure it reached those heights – it probably needs a bit of tweaking before charging at that level.
Sides – Roast Market Vegetables and Potatoes
We also ordered some sides of roast potatoes and aioli, as well as some roasted market vegetables. These were delicious – although we struggled to make a dent in them! Crusher was particularly fond of the potatoes which were gloriously crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside!
Moving onto the sweet section of the evening… never let it be said that the Crusher family couldn’t save room or time for dessert.
Profiteroles, banana passionfruit sorbet, tonka bean crème patisserie, fresh passionfruit
Mrs Crusher was abstaining (she’s a very clever woman that Mrs C) – but Crusher was not to be deterred and very happily ordered the profiteroles. Served in a more tropical style, Punch Lane appears to have eschewed the typical chocolate encrusted profiterole and instead complemented the lovely crispy balls of cream filled choux with banana and passionfruit sorbet, fresh banana and passionfruit. Once again… demolished!
Poached apricot & custard, meringue, rhubarb jelly, rhubarb sorbet
iMac ordered what sounded a lot like the Punch Lane version of Eton Mess… and it looked beautiful. A great jumble of poached apricots melded with custard and topped with mini meringues, globes of rhubarb jelly and topped with a glistening quenelle of sorbet.
Cocoa nib sponge, chocolate mousse, white peach & buttermilk sorbet
Of course, anything chocolate always gets my attention – and so I contentedly tucked into a wonderful sponge that had been generously layered with chocolate mousse, overlaid with cubes of white peach tumbling over the cake, and topped with a creamy white peach and buttermilk sorbet. Again – worth going back for!
Overall – Punch Lane was a great night out. It serves a great menu, and although they’re probably punching above their weight price-wise (excuse the pun) on the duck dish, the rest of the menu is solid, reliable and enjoyable fare. Add to this the great ambience, the very functional service and a great location it’s worthy of your consideration – even if you’re not heading out to the theatre.