Vin Cellar

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We had dinner at Vin Cellar on Friday night. This was Ritsy’s second dinner here, and my third, thanks to an awesome work function last year.

We sat down in front of the open fire at the back of the restaurant, and started proceedings with a couple of glasses of Veuve Clicquot. There are not many places in Melbourne that you can get a glass of champagne for $16.50, let alone Veuve Clicquot. This is the Vin Cellar style.

Their wine philosophy is probably best explained by quoting their website:

At VIN we love our wine. VIN boasts one of the most prolific wine lists in Melbourne, ranging from Old World Burgundies and Bordeaux, to back vintages of iconic Australian brands such as Giaconda, Rockford, Wendouree and Bass Phillip. All our wines are offered at competitive bottle shop prices, with an additional cost of $5 per bottle to drink in.

While not as cheap as Dan Murphy’s, it’s much better than most restaurants. For instance, the Veuve we drank is typically between $60 – $70 at Dan’s. At Rockpool, it’s $210. At Vin Cellar, it’s a mere $89.

Once we had finished our Champagne, we moved to our dinner table. It’s nice and cosy inside Vin Cellar – besides the fireplace, the tables are adequately spaced, and the noise levels never seem to get too high. Hundreds of bottles of wine adorn the walls, held by their necks like a riddling rack, and if you are not careful (like Ritsy!) you may almost accidentally knock one out of the wall.

The menu presented to us looked delicious. Having learnt a lesson from eating at Taxi Dining Room recently (where all of the entrees looked amazing, yet we decided to have entree / main / dessert and ended up being way too full to have dessert), we opted for four entree’s and one starter.

We ordered the following dishes:

  • Fried Zucchini Fritters with Walnut, Feta & Parsley
  • Yellowfin Tuna, Tomato, Fennel & Black Oil
  • Berkshire Pork Belly, Chorizo, Kipfler, Salsa Verde & Almonds
  • Pheasant, Fig & Radicchio Salad, Witlof & Hazelnuts
  • Pan Roasted Scallops, Smoked Artichoke, Little Vegetables

The waiter asked if we would like him to stage the menu progression in order from lightest to heaviest dishes, which we agreed to. He got it just right.

After some good brown bread, we were served the Scallops and the Pheasant salad. These were our favorite dishes of the night.

The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the smoked artichoke puree was an excellent accompaniment. The pheasant was beautifully cooked as well, still moist and tender, and the radicchio, figs, and thick, slightly salty salad dressing really made the dish work.

The Zucchini fritters and the Tuna arrived next, followed by the Pork belly. Neither of these were as memorable as the first two dishes, but it made for a well rounded meal, and everything was very well cooked.

After devouring every last thing on our plates, we asked for the bill, and then Ritsy decided she wanted dessert.

We gave the bill back and ordered the “Roasted Pear Custard, Sauternes Jelly & Cinnamon”. What a great dessert this was – it was presented beautifully in a glass, the custard was velvety with just the right amount of cinnamon, and the sauternes jelly was delicious.

Completely satisfied, we paid the bill and walked outside into a rainy Melbourne night. We couldn’t stop talking about how good the food was that night. I think they are well on their way to earning their first chef’s hat in The Age Good Food Guide 2011. Depending, of course, on what crazy rating criteria they come up with this year.

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