Thursday, 3 March 2011

Restaurant Review: Taxi Dining Room

Location: Federation Square, Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets, Melbourne
Phone: +613 9654 8808
Cuisine: Contemporary, Fusion
Overall Impression:7.5/10

I have always been a little sceptical about places that offer 'fusion' cuisine. What does that even mean? Is it sort of like running out of hokkien noodles for your stir-fry and substituting it with spaghetti, hoping everything will work out? Luckily, at Taxi, it all came together for me and I'm beginning to understand the whole Fusion theme. My lovely dining date, J, was recently offered an amazing job and since Taxi Dining had been, for a very long time, on his Restaurants-to-try List, we took this opportunity to celebrate with some fine dining there.

Fairbank Sutton Grange Winery, Syrah '05
Brandade filled zucchini flowers tempura with green papaya salad 

C'est parfait! It could not have been better. The balance of flavours was just right. The tempura batter was light, crisp, had just the right amount of saltiness and was not greasy in the slightest. The zucchini flowers were beautifully sweet and juicy. What I suspect to be Japanese tartare, that accompanied the dish brought an element of tanginess to the dish. The creamy brandade filling was delicious and added emphasis to the crunchy tempura batter. The green papaya salad was extremely refreshing and made the dish remind me of good times under the warm Summer sun.

Fillet of Atlantic salmon with sorrel & King prawn salad, shellfish dressing

To be perfectly honest, my first impression of this dish was not very good. I saw the shallots and thought.. raw onion-y goodness? I think not. And to add salt to a wound, I noticed that the fish looked like it had been poached and the salmon skin had been removed. What was the idea behind this? Wouldn't the missing skin take away from what would have been a good contrast in textures? I.e. crisp salmon skin vs melt in your mouth flesh? I was quickly proven wrong. The beautiful purple shallots were not overpowering at all! I'm not sure what had been done to them, but they were just a touch of honey on my palette. They were still crisp and that contrasted beautifully with the creamy brandade and deliciously moist salmon flesh. The large sour-tasting sorrel with a hint of garlic oil garnish somehow reminded me of a lovely steamed fish dish I have had in Malaysia and it worked so well with the salmon. The dish tasted Asian... but not. And at that point, I sort of understood. The little purple shallots instead of the usual french onions (that would not have been as sweet and delicate), using coriander-like sorrel as garnish. It just worked. Delicious! Fusion? I like. The King prawn salad was pleasant but it was clear that the salmon was the star of the dish.

Crispy Szechwan duck with lime pickle, Vietnamese salad & sesame tamarind 

Everything about this dish was bold. The lime pickle was strong and flavoursome and the duck was heavily flavoured and the skin was crisp. Unfortunately the duck was overdone and therefore a bit dry.
Layered pannacotta with raspberry jelly & vanilla foam with almond crumble

The flavours were perfectly balanced. We ran our spoons right through, cutting through every layer before placing the layers into our mouths. First your taste buds are excited by a delightful hit of vanilla, that quickly disappears and then you start crunching into the sweet almond crumble which has just the right amount of saltiness and then the taste of fresh raspberries fill your palate. And when that disappears, what remains is a smooth pannacotta finish lingering on your palette.

'Giancarlo' Cuppucino by Grinders

The only thing I could fault them on is portion size. I want MORE...pretty please? Excellent food, very professional staff and what a great ambience - view of Flinders street station and the bustle of Southbank.

Taxi Dining Room on Urbanspoon

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