The decision to have an express lunch at No35 was the most annoying process ever. It started off innocently with an email from Thanh asking which restaurants we wanted to dine at during the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF). After several, several, SEVERAL emails back and forth, we finally settled on a few dates, one of which was the Labour Day public holiday. But could we decide on a restaurant on that day? Nope. It was worse than herding cats. For a group who like to eat and who are normally very decisive about where we want to go – we were hopeless. It got to the point where we were all a bit exasperated and it looked like we wouldn’t be eating anywhere.
Thankfully, Hazzie and Gazman stepped in and made the choice for us, deciding on No35.
Located up on the 35th floor of the Sofitel, No35 must have one of the best views of any restaurant in Melbourne (with the exception of Vue de Monde). Our table was located right at the back of the L shaped dining room, so we had plenty of opportunity to admire the view from the large floor to ceiling windows and ogle the massive kitchen as we walked past. And then we arrived at our table. Also known as: the giant marble slab. While most of the other tables scattered around the room were wooden and neutral, our table was a huge slab that could have seated 12 (and there were only 7 of us).
After slightly rearranging table settings to move our group closer together, we settled in and took a look at the menu.
As with the other MFWF express lunches, it was $35 for 2 courses off a limited menu, a glass of wine, and tea/coffee. We were also able to add an extra course for an additional $10.
No35’s express menu had two options for each course. Alastair and I decided we would both have three courses, and as we both ordered different dishes, it meant that we ended up sampling everything on the menu – which always makes for a happy food blogger.
For entrée, Alastair choose the cured salmon risotto with horseradish, nettles and crème fraiche. I had a taste of his risotto – it was pretty good though I did think it was a little bit too salty. But the risotto was cooked well and it was creamy and not too fishy.
My entrée was the pork croquette with ravigote, eggs and frisee. It was really good. The crunchy breaded exterior hid a savoury porky inside, which was complemented nicely with the egg and accompanying sauce.
For mains, Alastair had the lamb shoulder with eggplant and aged balsamic. I’m a bit unsure about where the eggplant was hiding, but I believe there was also some apricot or peach on the plate. Tastewise, his main was better than mine – boo. This is why I shouldn’t let him order first. The rectangular brick of lamb was nicely tender and flavoursome, but the best part must’ve been the crispy bits of lamb fat on the plate. Yum.
My main was the fish, which was a piece of fried mulloway with barley, chorizo and calamari. It was pretty tasty, with the barley containing a nice spicy kick from the chorizo.
For dessert, Alastair had the passionfruit bavarois with salted caramel, and passionfruit sorbet. Very pretty.
While my dessert was coconut, pickled pineapple, lime tapioca and granita. I didn’t try Alastair’s dessert, but I’m pretty sure mine was better. I really liked it. There were several contrasting textures with the creamy coconut, icy granita, smooth tapioca and it had a good sweet/sour/creamy balance that was spot on. And as an additional bonus, the dessert ended with pop rocks in the bottom of the glass. After everyone had finished eating, I was still amusing myself with the sound of still popping pop rocks. 😀
I skipped tea and coffee because they only had filter coffee and teabags. (Snob.)
To be honest, because I knew it was a hotel restaurant, I hadn’t been expecting much from the food. However, overall, I was quite impressed with our meal there. I must say that service wasn’t great – it was okay at the beginning but later, after the restaurant filled up, we became the invisible table. Nevermind. At least we had the view to entertain us.
Check out Hazzie’s account of our lunch at No 35.
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Level 35, 25 Collins Street
Phone: 03 9653 7744