Last week was my b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y. I felt a teensy weensy bit glum about getting older but knew that dinner at a restaurant would perk me up.
Seamstress is located in a four-storey building on Lonsdale Street. In the building’s past, there used to be an undergarment manufacturer, guilders, and a sweatshop. Nowadays, there’s a basement bar, a ground floor kitchen, a first floor dining room and a top floor bar. We arrived around 8pm on a warm Friday evening and wandered upstairs to the first floor. I was a tad confused about where I was going (upstairs? downstairs?) and fortunately we were greeted by the staff on the first floor. It was still fairly quiet at that stage (it filled up later) and we were given a choice of two tables in the long room.
Excuse the terrible photos – I have a new toy and am still trying to get used to it!
As we perused the menu, we were bought a broth to sip while we decided on what to eat. I believe it was a lemongrass, ginger and chilli broth. I loved the little cups that they were bought out in. Too cute.
Service was very friendly and funky – and obviously kiwi. Our waitress was very chatty and recommended food and wines and explained how the menu worked. We took up a couple of her food recommendations and happily went with her wine recommendations.
We started with the crispy calamari ($14), the silken tofu treasure box ($14) and the pork belly ($16.00). The calamari was covered in a tempura style batter and served with a little bowl of five spice salt. It was presented on a piece of Chinese newspaper. The batter on the calamari was beautifully light and pale. I tried the salt but left it because I found it too salty and overpowering. In hindsight, it would probably have been a better idea to sprinkle the salt rather than dipping the calamari into it… duh.
The tofu treasure box was a little hot pot of tofu and shitake mushrooms. I love those meaty shitake mushrooms. I liked it, but I would’ve liked the dish even more if the tofu was more silken than firm.
The last item we had before our mains arrived was the pork belly; long boneless strips that had been braised in a dark, sweet/savoury sauce. The sprouts sitting under the pork had absorbed some of the sauce from it and they were soft and tasty.
After our starters, our chopsticks were taken away and we were bought a knife, fork and a spoon. We ended up asking for our chopsticks back. :p
Our mains were the braised beef cheek and the red duck curry. Rice came with the main meals. Now I know that the photo looks like a brown plop (must have lost my photo skills there) but the beef was gorgeous. It had been cooked for five hours with star anise and cassia (and possibly more spices) and was very tender, dark, sticky and fragrant. I grew up eating a dish similar to this, gnul nam, and it has always been one of my favourite things to eat. It was the first thing that I asked my parents to teach me how to make.
The red duck curry was served on a bed of beans and broad beans. The beans still retained some crunch and the duck was very tender and rather spicy! Fortunately, for this non duck lover, the meat didn’t taste very gamey.
We finished with a dessert tasting plate of desserts ($25). There was a pineapple jelly, ginger jelly, a pannacotta, rose petal fritters with mint cream and wild rice and coconut cream parcels in banana parchment.
By the time we got to dessert, we had downed a couple of bottles of wine. So my memory of dessert? Not that great. So, what can I dredge out of memory to tell you… I preferred the ginger jelly over the pineapple, the pannacotta was smooth and silky, the rice and banana parcels were creamy and the parchment was strongly banana flavoured (strangely enough). My favourite was the rose petal fritter which looks like a brown plop in my photo. I hope this brown plop photo phenomenon of mine isn’t becoming a trend. It did look better in person!
All in all, I ended up having a good birthday dinner. It even made me feel better about getting older (the wine helped a lot).
113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9663 6363