Every year on our anniversary, my boyfriend chooses a restaurant and takes me out. I always love the choice he makes and I’m also always surprised when he manages to find restaurants that offer great food at a reasonable price. I feel so lucky and special that he makes such an effort to find these places. So, this year I decided I’d choose and take him out instead and the place I chose was Red Spice Road.
We were there to try their Express Banquet. For $25 per person you get a shared entree and a choice of 3 mains to share. Bargain!
Red Spice Road has two restaurants in Melbourne: one in QV and the one we visited, which was on McKillop St. The restaurant is divided into 4 public dining areas and also offers 3 private function rooms. We were seated in the Lantern. I thought this layout was quite smart, because it gave the waiting staff ease of access to every table, which meant it wasn’t very hard to get their attention if you needed something. Though this seating arrangement saw us seating side by side, instead of facing each other. It was a little strange at first, but I soon discovered the benefits of not having to raise my voice to compete with all the conversation around us.
Two little mounds of moist chicken sat in the middle of a betel leaf. I’ve tried betel leaf before and found the fragrance too strong for my liking so I was surprised to discover that I liked this dish as a whole. I think the smokey flavour of the eggplant married beautifully with the betel leaf and was able to compliment the strong scent. Try putting the small package into your mouth whole and you will discover it packs a bunch of freshness with the chili and coriander.
We chose a salad to balance out the meatiness of the next two dishes. I simply love the vibrant colours of this salad, however I was a little disappointed to discover it lacked vibrancy in taste. I could taste the chili, the mint, the coriander, however it lacked the zing of lemon/lime juice to bring all those elements together. I felt as a side dish to just add some veggies, this salad was enough, however it can not stand alone as a main.
This was hands-down the dish of the day. The pork belly was fall apart tender, the edges caramelised to an addicting texture that resembled shortcrust pastry. The pork belly had already drank up all the sweet marinade and was ready to release all its sweetness back into your mouth. After a while the sweetness becomes a little sickening, but there is black vinegar on hand to change the concoction into sweet and sour goodness. The apple slaw adds a further fresh crisp to the gluttony.
The meat was cooked to technical perfection. Goat is a lot leaner than lamb, so slow braising yields the most tender result. The biggest problem I have with this dish is the curry. It was very bland and the use of dry spices gave the dish a saw-dust mouth feel towards the end. I felt this was only the true miss of the day.
Even though there were some misses among the dishes we tried, there were more that made my experience at Red Spice Road enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance and the service. If that’s not enough then the pork belly will definitely see me returning for more.
Oh and last of all, thank you to my boyfriend for these 3 years. Happy Anniversary!