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Food/wine/coffee

Food/wine/coffee

By Law Institute Journal

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Food

How we rate it:
14/20
18 to 20: Would take my best client here
15 to 17: A safe bet for client entertainment
12 to 14: Best for a lunch with colleagues
<12: Life’s too short, try somewhere else

Rice Paper Scissors

15 Hardware Lane

Away from the spruikers on Hardware Lane and down the southern end, Rice Paper Scissors is a bustling COVID-normal operation that offers a welcome choice of indoor and covered outdoor dining. Inside there is a clean fitout with a mix of table sizes that cater for both large groups and a cosy tete-a-tete meal that doesn’t subject you to the intimate secrets of the couple sitting next to you.

RPS offers a good spread of south-east Asian street food style dishes – including a great vegan selection – that are somewhere between entrée and main sized and priced towards $20. Our waitress’s cheery description of “Asian-style tapas” is apt.

The $35 per head lunch special allows two diners to share five dishes, and is a great way to dive into their food. Our selection is helpfully brought in two stages. 

First come vegan eggplant tempura buns ($15.50), a pair of bao tucked with an eggplant fritter, a little under-seasoned for my taste, cucumber, and a spritely vegan chilli mayo; lobster dumplings ($16), tasty plump morsels, albeit not very lobstery, doused with the now-ubiquitous (not a bad thing) Lao Gan Ma chilli condiment; and crying tiger ($16.50), sensational, charcoal grilled nuggets of beef brisket, topped with a popping fresh relish of tomato, onion and herbs, which are then to be wrapped in mustard green leaf parcels and dipped in chilli dipping sauce.

The second wave begins with crispy barramundi ($17), two large fish fritters, coated in a thick, strangely compelling coconut batter, and scattered with a salad made of rustic chunks of green apple, roast cashews and nam jin. In my opinion the fish is a little dry and lost here. 

Finally, the Phuket calamari ($17) turns out to be my standout dish: delicately tender calamari pieces are tossed in an unctuous coating of salted duck egg, together with charred snake beans, Chinese celery, and seasoned with fish sauce, palm sugar (I think) and a squeeze of lime. I love the rich but mildly comforting flavours and texture of this ensemble.

The drinks menu offers a good selection of cocktails with or without alcohol, including a refreshing yuzu and lime soda ($9.50) and beers that include Stomping Ground watermelon sour ($11) – a modern take on a shandy, but an absolute revelation with this style of food.

RPS offers fun and relaxed dining, with bright Asian flavours, is sensibly priced, and is a good choice for couples and work groups. ■

Shaun Ginsbourg is a hungry barrister.

Coffee

Bourke Street Green pop-up-café

501 Bourke Street

The RACV Club opened its cruisy Bourke Street Green bar in late 2019 only to be stymied by the pandemic just a few months later. As office workers started returning to the CBD in early 2021, the bar reopened, with the bonus of a pop-up café set up on the street outside, enticing passers-by and local workers to meet over coffee in the airy slatted-wood and glass-walled pod (heated for the city’s cooler months), perfect for watching the world go by. 

The luscious Danish fruit pastries and buttery croissants are made by nearby favourite Le Petit Gateau, with coffee by Lavazza. KD

Wine

Bottle of Pt Leo Estate Mornington Peninsula Rose 2020

Pt Leo Estate Mornington Peninsula Rose 2020

RRP $34

There is no reason why rose can’t be an all year-round proposition, especially when it is treated as seriously as this. The pale salmon colour and scent of summer berries alerts the senses. Two months ageing in oak brings depth to palate that flows with ripe raspberry, cherry, spice intensity and texture. 

A wine to enjoy with or without food and no matter the temperature. 

Enjoy with arancini balls.

Stockist: www.ptleoestate.com.au

Bottle of Shadowfax Midhill Chardonnay 2019

Shadowfax Midhill Chardonnay 2019

RRP $45

I think we all deserve to taste the best of Victoria this month after another rough start to the year. That includes top chardonnays like this youngster grown on the Midhill Vineyard near Romsey in the Macedon Ranges. Both sunny and bright and serious, Midhill boasts zesty lemon and lime aromas, pink grapefruit, savoury biscuit. The palate boasts lovely texture and length. Wouldn’t mind some more time in the cellar either, if you can wait a little longer.

Open with ceviche.

Stockists: Prince Wine Store, www.shadowfax.com.au

Bottle of Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

RRP $25

Fantastic value here. The Grampians is renowned for its shiraz but never forget the region’s potential for excellent cabernet. Best’s is a prime example with a young cab straight out of the blocks and bursting with delicious black berries, anise, spice, a gentle leafy cab thread, integrated oak and supple tannins. It’s made for early consumption but there is still potential for further ageing.

Open with spaghetti bolognese.

Stockists: www.nicks.com.au, www.bestswines.com


Jeni Port is a Melbourne wine writer, author and judge.


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