Disclosure: I was invited by Taxi Kitchen to dine as a guest
Although Melbourne continues to show it's evolution with many newcomers into the dining scene pushing for a more laid back dining style, it really makes a statement when one of the big hitters decides it's going to make a change and follow suit. A bold move indeed.
Which is exactly what Taxi is doing. Originally that fine dining restaurant in the rather unexpected location of Federation Square, they've gotten rid of their carpets and tablecloth, squeezed in more tables and chairs and revised the menu to make it more contemporary and relaxed.
I had once visited Taxi, long before I started blogging, with my mum and her friend, where we were positively delighted with the entrees, but found the mains a little lack lustre. So it only seemed fitting to bring mum with me to check out the change and get her feedback. Also helps she tends to be a little more critical than me, so always good to get another opinion (as Brad is hopeless…)
I've always found the location of Taxi to be a bit of an odd one, in the middle of a massively touristy area and with neighbours (like Transport Hotel) that don't always get the most savoury crowd.
Despite that though, it seems to work for them, and you can't deny that there's a great view through the floor to ceiling windows which just gets prettier and prettier as the light fades away.
The interior is sharp and smart, metal details softened out with wooden furniture, and plenty of tables squeezed in. I was surprised how busy it was on a Tuesday night, but with the comedy festival on at the time, it seemed to be peak hour all the time!
The bright yellow menus made me so happy, and although Taxi Kitchen have sent the tablecloth away, they've decided to keep the impeccable service and I was quite impressed with how well we were looked after. The staff were incredibly attentive, friendly and quick to fulfil any of our needs.
Mum equipped with a Campari soda, and I with a MGC gin and tonic, the waitress walked us through the menu, which is now split into small, medium and large plates which are all designed for sharing. There's also the chef's tasting menu, 6 courses for $85, which is great value, and seemed to be what most of the tables were doing.
However, I tend to be the type of person who eats with my eyes, through words or pictures, and when I read certain words, I tend to just latch on to them in my mind, so I usually end up building my own menu (sometimes to my own detriment as my eyes eat more than my belly…)
Lovely fresh bread is served with butter that's been seasoned with a spot of chilli salt. Whilst we didn't feel the kick of the chilli, we did love the smooth and decadent texture of the butter, just gliding over the bread. Perfect.
One of the dishes I had zeroed in on the menu were the beef croquettes with shallots and hot mustard dressing. These were lovely, with a delightfully light and crisp batter, and really, really garlicky. Make sure your date has one if you're going to order these! The mustard also had a really great kick.
The candied pork, snowed under by toasted coconut and sitting on a red chilli dressing, was quite delicious…once you could pry it off the plate! The sticky pork was nicely complimented with the coconut that added a gentle sweetness. We very much liked the red chilli dressing, which actually wasn't very spicy, and more like a sweet chilli with a very nice consistency.
Replacing my gin was a glass of pinot noir (I really ought to write down the names of the wines I drink…) which was jammy, with ripe cherry notes. Mmhmm!
The next dish was probably my favourite of the night, a country style terrine with foie gras parfait, rhubarb compote and pear and ginger chutney. Oh my goodness. Everything on this was just delicious. The chutney had a nice bit of heat from the ginger, the terrine and the parfait were as smooth and as lush as could be. I loved the pistachio (I think) around the border of the terrine, giving it a little extra texture and crunch and the sweetness of the rhubarb compote was just gorgeous as well. So. Much. Yum.
Taxi Kitchen were also kind enough to provide me a serve of gluten free bread when my mum mentioned I was intolerant at the beginning of the night, despite me telling them not to worry about it.
Mum and I also both loved the fresh burrata with vine ripe heirloom tomatoes and green chilli. Goodness the burrata was just so smooth and creamy, complemented by the sweet and juicy tomatoes. We both went kind of crazy over the green chilli, which had quite a nice kick followed by a toasty warmth in the back of the mouth. A handful of sesame seeds (I think?) also provided a nice earthy contrast to the bright flavours.
I go through potato phases, where I just have to order chips wherever I go, and I was definitely in the midst of it when we visited Taxi Kitchen. Although mum can be a bit hard to please because she always wants triple cooked chips wherever we go, I quite liked Taxi Kitchen's offering, which were crisp and quite airy and light. I liked that the potato skins were still on them as well.
Our large plate, the chargrilled spatchcock with wombok, nacho pear salad and Tears of Dragon, was a little on the disappointing side. Although it looked great, with glistening skin and was nicely browned, we both found the spatchcock a bit dry and generally a bit bland. It wasn't a memorable dish for me personally. I did like the wombok salad though, the Asian influence making it's appearance, and is a vegetable I'd be happy to see on menus more often!
Fortunately, we still finished the night on a high, despite waistlines that threatened to burst, I hard to try at least one dessert, although it was sorely tempting to order all of them because they sounded so delicious!
I opted for Taxi's famous passionfruit souffle and banana ice-cream, which was exactly what we needed. It looked an absolute treat, rising magnificently out of it's little ramekin. The fresh punch of passionfruit and the lightness of the souffle made for a good dessert since we were so full, tart and refreshing. The banana ice-cream was also full of flavour, creamy and a good companion to the passionfruit. Just yum.
Although we had one dish that we weren't so excited about, we really enjoyed the night and left impressed with the evolved direction that Taxi Kitchen is taking. Although the menu looks quite big, mum and I thought that one small plate, two medium plates and a dessert would be way more than enough for two girls, which would make for a very reasonably priced meal, as we were absolutely stuffed after our 6 course extravaganza!
Some of the best service in town, beautifully presented food that generally hit the nail on the head for flavours in a lovely setting, Taxi Kitchen is still doing good and I'm certainly planning to be back for that terrine and parfait and also to demolish the rest of the dessert menu…couverture white chocolate mousse, lemon meringue pie's and mini doughnuts with caramelised milk jam…what more does a sweet tooth need?
Flinders Street, Melbourne
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