The Sharing House

35 Dukes Walk
South Wharf, VIC 3006
03 9245 9800

NB: The Sharing House has closed down early 2013, it has been replaced by a Thai street food restaurant called Bang Pop.

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I think once you’ve visited Akachochin, The Sharing House sticks to your mind because you have to walk in and past this restaurant in order to enter Akachochin.

But what stuck to my mind even more was reading, from blog posts, about The Sharing House’s “Rabbit Popcorn”! How cool is that??

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I arranged a visit with Karen, Vicky and Roger. Karen flew up from New Zealand for the weekend so it was a good excuse to have dinner at one of Melbourne’s new and ‘modernistic’ restaurants on a friday night.

Fit-out here is is a mish mash of pared down elegance in a casual-contemporary, tablecloth-free, warehouse setting. And there’s whimsicality too, with a bar counter completely made out of LEGO bricks!

The menu is completely designed for sharing, so we each just chose a dish or two from the ‘small sharing’ section and allowed our food adventure to take flight.

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Corned beef croquette served with HP sauce

The corned beef hash is sold ala tapas style, by the individual piece. Roger wanted this, but in typical Asian must-share-everything style, he cut it into 4 for all of us to share! We’re so totally living up to the restaurant’s name here. The hash was a bit meh though, crisp but without much flavour in the filling.

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Confit rabbit and cauliflower, in a parmesan breadcrumb, served with roasted garlic aioli
Spanner crab with horseradish and apple

And here’s the ‘signature dish’… rabbit popcorn! Don’t you agree that every restaurant needs that ‘special’ dish that makes people remember the place? Well, I think this is The Sharing House’s dish of fame.

It was a fun mix-bag of a dish. You pick a random piece and it will be either crumbed cauliflower or crumbed rabbit. I liked how it’s seasoned gently and not too salty. As for the rabbit, I’ll have to quote Roger, who said “it tastes like chicken!”. I thought the aioli needed a bit more of a punch though.

Vicky got herself the toastie and ended up dividing it for all of us. The insides were uplifting and zesty, but tasted odd for a crab dish to me. Still, I think Vicky liked it.

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Ocean trout cured with apple vodka, textures of apple and mustard crème fraîche

This was one of our favourite dishes for the night. The salmon was very gently cured and still almost ‘fresh tasting’, and there were crisp round nuggets of compressed apple and spicy dabs of mustard. The contrast in textures and interplay between tangy, zingy and gently sweet made this dish interesting.

I will be a word barbarian now and say that the dish name ‘gravlax’ (of Scandinavian origin) doesn’t sound sexy for so colourful a dish because it makes me think of the word ‘gravy’. Lol.

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What I liked about this meal so far was how most of the dishes have been sensibly seasoned.

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Roasted potato gnocchi with spanner crab and crispy veal sweetbreads and a brown butter jus

Here’s another dish with a quirky name. I’d never link a gnocchi dish with the words ‘surf’ and ‘turf’.

I thought the spanner crab did not stand out as it was overwhelmed by the heavier flavours of the cloyingly sweet jus and the denseness of the gnocchi. Vicky and Roger thought the jus reminded them of teriyaki sauce. We also baulked a little with the sweetbreads.

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Duck breast prosciutto wrapped around confit duck leg and crispy sprout salad

My companions were not that enthusiastic about this dish, they thought the confit duck leg (hidden under the slices of breast) was a bit overdone and dry. Then again, I have noticed that confit duck generally tends to have a firmer, waxy and ‘drier’ texture, no?

All that said, the crispy sprout salad was really delicious and I also liked the tender slices of duck breast. After awhile, I grew to like the heavier flavours of this dish. I don’t think I’ve had this classic French combination of duck and orange before, it was quite nice here.

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“STEAK” 76
John Dee Black Angus 200 day grain fed 800g rib, served on the bone with braised savoy cabbage, potato gratin, peppercorn sauce

Cold and rainy winter nights makes me crave for a good hunk of juicy and warming steak. I’m glad the whole table agreed on this. We enjoyed this dish, it’s from the ‘large sharing’ part of the menu.

The meat was cooked perfectly, and had good flavour. It was nicely seared and crusted with just the right amount of salt. I also appreciated how the gratin wasn’t overly cheesy.

I winced initially at the peppercorn sauce because it’s what cheap steak chains like Jack’s Place in Singapore would serve with their steaks. But my companions said the sauce was good, and again after sometime, I grew to like it and conceded that it matched this piece of steak well.

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That was a perfect amount of savoury food. Now it’s time for sweets!

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Ice creams served in mini cornettos (mint choc chip, pistachio, coco nib, vanilla bean, pedro ximenez, wild strawberry and limoncello)

Don’t be fooled by the picture, these cones of ice cream are actually pretty small, about as tall as my finger. It’s a cute, fun concept though… serving them in a test tube rack. But once the novelty has worn off, it isn’t that fantastic a dessert. I had a pedro ximinez scoop and it was alright. They should give us a larger ice cream to cone ratio.

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Warm chocolate fondant with textures of orange

Karen got excited with this because Jaffa (orange in chocolate) is apparently a very New Zealand thing. It came as a deconstructed dessert, and once again with playful elements like jellied candies and freeze dried orange. I personally don’t like orange in chocolate as a flavour combination, which was pervasive in the fondant. But I’ll have to say that the orange sorbet was amazing!

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Chocolate mousse, salted caramel, ice cream

I think the table as a whole found this dessert on the sweet and chewy side. However, I liked how dark the chocolate was, and the base actually had popping candy in it! So this dessert was popping in our mouths as we ate it.

The restaurant as a whole is modern-glitzy, yet casual-fashionable with sharp waitstaff and Buddha Bar type music. There were a few quibbles with some of the dishes, but it was still a good meal. And the menu has got quite a few inventive and mischievous dishes, which made things quite fun.

Even the bill arrived playfully, in a LEGO container. We paid up and naughtily re-arranged the pieces before we bade goodbye. The four of us left the place feeling light-hearted and like kids again.

As a visitor, Karen thinks the food scene in Melbourne is great, and I agree. But what I’m going to say next is probably going to shake things up a little. At the end of the day, I still maintain that this recent style of share-plate dining can be a bit faddish and it just doesn’t feel comforting to me.

It’s often intelligent textures, ingredients, flavours and contrasts assembled on a small plate. It’s fun to eat and great to pull apart, taste and discover. But being in such an endless playground of variety can make me finish a meal unsatisfied and craving simplicity. Like a child who’s had too much lollies. Do you think it’s strange that I feel that way?

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