Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coda, Basement 141 Flinders Lane (access from Oliver Lane), Melbourne

I caught up with an old colleague when I was recently in Melbourne, and both being foodies, we booked a table at Coda, which never fails to delight.  Coda is one of these quintessentially Melbourne laneway treasures.  Yes it’s in a back alley, but the food and service is top notch.  It's got a Flinders Lane address, which is impressive enough as it is, but wait for it - you have to go down another cobblestoned laneway (Oliver Lane) to actually get into the restaurant, which is in the basement of a building, so that when you're sitting down and dining, you're looking up at pedestrians' legs walking past.  Things that make you go hmmm ... then again, the dining experience is so good that you shouldn't really be that bored that you'd be looking up from your meal at all.

Dining at Coda is all about shared dishes.  You could kinda call it a modern Australian version of tapas.  But flash.  With Asian influences – I see that modern Melbourne cuisine continues its fascination with Asian cooking styles and ingredients.

First up was a tuna sashimi in a salad of beans and shoots, topped with wasabi infused flying fish roe.  A very nice experience of clean flavours highlighted by different textural contrasts – from the perfect sashimi texture (how else do you describe it?), crunchiness of the veges, and the popping of the roe as you bit down.

Then came the quail done in a sang choy bau style, diced with mushrooms, spring onions and other delectable bits, and served in a lettuce leaf. And of course we had to eat it by hand.  A clever twist on an Asian favourite.

Fresh buffalo mozzarella was just sublime.  It came out two ways – deep fried and virgin fresh, on a bed of sliced baby zucchini and peas and garnished with mint leaves.  Always nice to get a combo.  An uncomplicated but thoroughly enjoyable dish.

It must have been white asparagus season, because that seemed to be all the rage at that point in time, both in Melbourne and back home in Perth.  Well, this asparagus dish was another one-two combo of white and green, and was decadently doused in a rich, creamy thick white sauce.  We didn’t complain about the food or service before getting that course (why would we, with impeccable, professional service?), so I was quite comfortable about eating it, sauce and all ...

Perry’s favourite was the kung pow chicken, which was nice with big rich flavours, but I have to admit that I’m not a big fan.  Maybe it was because I was thoroughly stuffed by the time we got to it.

Of course, what dining experience is complete without a bit of fun and intrigue?  Halfway through our meal, a bunch of firemen, complete with helmets and overalls (and I’m sure I saw at least one axe, or maybe I had too much of the white burgundy by then), troop in one by one through the back door.  Apparently someone ordered a sizzling hot plate dish (I swear I didn’t see that on the menu), and they happened to be sitting right under a smoke detector … Fortunately, the sprinklers didn’t come on and the firemen just had a laugh, so we got to finish a most enjoyable lunch.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great lunch...Coda never disappoints! PA