Virginia Plain is Marco Santucci’s newly opened European styled restaurant, which is located next door Cumulus Inc on Flinders Lane in Melbourne. Former Vue du Monde head Chef Andy Harmer is at the helm of the kitchen, together with Flo Gerardin and Andrew Wright. The venue is massive (one of the largest in the CBD in fact) and seats 120 guests and boasts a bar that is 18m long, which is the focal point of the restaurant. The vibe is casual and the place is spacious and artistically designed. The tables are wooden and sturdy, the chairs are comfortable and if you score yourself the couch side along the walls- very soft. There isn’t much lighting around, and I wondered once it got to well into the night, if you would be able to see anything (Despite the lack of lighting, it does stay well lit even late into the night).
My friend and I decide to try out the 4 course degustation menu which we are told showcases some of their best dishes. At this point I have to say that the prices for the degustation meals are very reasonable. Four courses will set you back $55 (which includes 3 savoury courses and 1 dessert course) and if you wanted matching wines – $75. There is also a seven course degustation available for $89 (which includes 5 savoury courses, 1 cheese course and 1 dessert course).
Whilst we wait for our meals to come out we are given warm sourdough bread which is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and came in a little cloth bread pouch. Our first course was an “egg course.” This was a described as a slow cooked egg sitting on top of parsnip crisps and sorrel, served with a brown sugar sauce together with a bruschetta crisp and finished with fresh parmesan. The egg was cooked perfectly and when you cracked the white casing, the yolk was the right consistency and gooey. The Brown sugar sauce was my favourite addition on the dish, and I really think this brought together all the other flavours of the dish. My friend had the addition of the jamon in her dish as well.
The next dish we received was their version of a tart - Tomato tart with goats cheese, beets & lambs lettuce. I wasn’t a fan of this dish. It did however come beautifully presented, but I think there needed to be more flavour added. It just seemed like a dish where different elements were put together but somehow didn’t all match. The puff pastry which formed the base of the tart was buttery and deliciously crunchy.
For what was lacking in the second course, was definitely made up in the third (and final savoury) course - Roasted King fish fillet with three cheese crust baby calamari with Vongole sauce. This dish was spectacular! I haven’t had a fish dish which came with a cheese crust before, and this simply addition made a whole lot of difference. It added not only texture but great flavour to the fish. The fish was seared and cooked fantastically and was soft and flavoursome. The vongole sauce was another definite highlight of the dish. It added depth and brought the whole dish together, along with the clams and calamari. Highly recommend this dish for not only fish or seafood lovers, but anyone.
Dessert came served in a glass and we were told this was their take of the Banoffi Pie (called the Hungry Monks Banoffi Pie) and consisted of caramelised banana, semifreddo condensed milk, Genoa sponge (génoise), Dulce de Leche caramel, topped with milk foam and rice crispies at the bottom. I have never been a fan of banana’s in my dessert, however this was an interesting take. I liked the layering of the Banoffi Pie and the best way to eat it is to get every layer in a mouthful. The flavours worked well together, and the rice crispies added a welcome crunch. The dessert was very sweet, and I couldn’t finish the whole dish.
The food was good and the service was attentive, pleasant and friendly. We had waitresses come up to us during each of our courses and ask us if everything was alright. One gripe however, was the temperature in the restaurant, it was quite cold and I had to put my jacket on halfway through the night. I do want to come back and try food from their a la carte menu and that may change my rating.
Rating : 3 Pandas
Menu – You can either do A la Carte, Have a Degustation – 4 courses for $55, Bring it on (7 courses) for $89. They also serve Bar Snacks – check the menus out at http://virginiaplain.com.au/menus/
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Comfortable. Great for a group function or work get together.
Standout Dish: Roasted King fish fillet with three cheese crust baby calamari with vongole sauce
Service: Friendly, Pleasant and Attentive
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://virginiaplain.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9290 0400
Monday to Wednesday: 11am – Midnight
Thursday to Saturday: 11am -1pm