Feb 13 2010
Craving Vietnamese food? Or maybe something a little more ooh la la? Whether it’s Vietnamese or French cuisine you’re after, you’ll find something to please your tastebuds at Coda—another Hot New Thing Down a Laneway Serving Dishes Designed to be Shared.Coda
141 Flinders La, Melbourne
Coda is sleek, stylish and uber-cool. If you’d like a table in the restaurant section, it’s necessary to book in advance. Otherwise, grab a seat at the bar.
This place ticks all the boxes. It looks great, the food is interesting and very now, and the wait staff are fun, efficient and knowledgeable. If you’re not sure what to eat, just ask – the menu is a minefield of adventurous flavours and combinations, which staff are happy to interpret. Indeed, you’ll most likely be briefed on how to eat: in most cases with the smaller dishes, just use your hands. Tackling a spindle of sweet potato and prawns with a knife and fork will probably end in tears.
In short, Coda is a great spot for after-work dinner and drinks, or weekend fun. Just don’t expect to turn up with a large group and expect to be seated. This place has been on the map from the outset.
Smaller dishes are just that, small. For the items priced between $3 and $8, you’ll receive one piece. The dishes at the end of the ‘smaller’ list priced from $15 to $22 are slightly larger dishes. For example, the Western Plains suckling pig terrine offers three circular slices of terrine, resembling meaty coasters on the plate.
The drunken chicken wingettes were delicious: an aesthetically pleasing golden wingette that was coated and fried to perfection, showing no signs of a hangover.
The spanner crab, galangal, roasted roasted chilli and lime betal leaf was recommended on my second visit to Coda; I had already tried it on visit #1, for the combination of flavours seemed divine on paper. After such high expectations it was just ‘nice’: the flavours are fresh and almost challenge the tastebuds, the galangal prominent on the palate.
The sweet potato and Clarence River prawn fritter and roasted chilli dip, spied across the room in an earlier visit, is an edible equivalent of a birds nest – prawns are trapped within an unruly bundle of thinly sliced sweet potato. I found it slightly hard to eat, as tiny bits of the ‘nest’ splintered off every time I ripped off a chunk. All part of the charm.
The roasted Spring Bay scallop, pearl tapioca and Yarra Valley salmon caviar was sweet, tender and gone too soon.
The bigger dishes are still designed to be shared. The sizzling plate of prawns, roasted chilli, kingbrown mushrooms, wing beans and Thai salad was fantastic. Likewise, the roasted yellow duck curry is also to die for, and was promptly devoured, perfectly matched with jasmine rice and a side serve of salad: heart of palm, honeydew melon and mint. The fish cooked in the bag – on this night, barramundi – was good, but not nearly as great as the prawns or the duck curry. It arrived on the plate with a combination of chilli, mushrooms and a sauce that doubled as a dipping sauce for our huge side of pomme frites.
Got room for dessert? Go for the soufflé. On my first visit, the mango soufflé, sitting on a plate alongside a trail of berries, was amazing. The apricot soufflé, with crème fraiche ice-cream and berries, was up there with one of the best soufflés this Tubbymistress has tasted. Want more of a spectacle? Try the bombe Alaska, which is set alight in front of you. Once extinguished, the meringue is delicious, as is the ice-cream inner core. The brandy in the base is absolutely toxic.