Red Spice Road | La Belle Miette
Now that Fakegf’s no longer to free on Tuesdays to brunch with me, I’m finding alternative ways to spend my rostered day off. And worry not, I won’t be relegating her nickname into Fake-exgf just yet… heh! Anyway, this post will be about what I got up to the very first Tuesday that I spent without her.
Red Spice Road
27 Mckillop St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9603 1601
I thought it might be nice to catch up with Jonty and spare myself the bother of cooking lunch at home. Red Spice Road in McKillop Lane is close to his office and he’s a frequent flyer there, he’s got a Red Spice Society Rewards Program card (lol) and the staff know him by name. We caught up there during his work lunch hour.
The restaurant is quite modern and atmospheric, with predominantly long table shared seating and bursts of primary colours against dark, woody furniture. I felt bad dragging Jonty out for lunch that day though. He was having a very hectic morning at work and there I was, taking an hour of his time for lunch.
Red Spice Road has made things simple by offering lunch and dinner banquets for groups. For $27 you get to choose 3 mains to share plus an appetiser ($35 to have all 5 mains). Dessert is an optional $5 more. The style of cooking is Southeast Asian fusion.
Betel leaf with Chicken, Smoked Eggplant, Mint and Coconut
Fried Barramundi with Water Spinach, Chilli, Beanshoots, Coriander and Oyster Sauce
All the dishes arrived within a few minutes of ordering. The day’s appetiser of betel leaf with chicken and eggplant was a pleasant and tasty offering. I kept imagining Asian communities chewing betel leaves (and staining their teeth) as part of their lifestyles, and myself doing a (posh and cosmopolitan) version of that in Red Spice Road.
The fried barramundi could be more crispy and the seasoning overall could be punchier. I also wasn’t too sure about the taste of raw kang kong (water spinach) in the dish ala salad-style, I felt they should’ve either cooked it or used a stronger dressing.
Beef Red Curry with Pumpkin
Pork Belly with Apple Slaw, Chilli Caramel and Black Vinegar
Our other two mains were alright. The beef was tender but I thought the curry itself was, dare I say, mild and boring. The pork belly was nice though… with semi crisp outsides giving way to a rush of soft unctuous fat as you bite into it (not for the faint hearted!). The crazily sweet caramel sauce is nicely counterpointed with a tangy black vinegar that’s served in a small jar on the side.
The food here (while of good quality) didn’t quite hit the mark for me taste-wise, but that’s based on me having just a small part of the lunch banquet menu. I believe what’s offered at dinner may perhaps be more elaborate. And to be fair, I normally have pretty strict standards with Asian food.
Red Spice Road is probably a good restaurant for group gatherings where you’re saved from the stress of navigating through a massive menu to suit all members of the group. And here’s a little tip: I’ve also had the lunch banquet at Red Spice Road in QVB and I found the equivalent dishes there punchier, crispier and tastier.
La Belle Miette
30 Hardware Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9024 4528
After saying goodbye to Jonty, I made the short walk across Bourke St into Hardware Lane to try out what’s reputedly Melbourne’s best macarons.
From Left: Caramel a la Fleur de Sel (Salted caramel) | Scone, Jam & Cream | Pistachio | Mariage Frères Earl Grey Tea Chocolate | Rose | Hazelnut
It’s such a quaint, dainty little shop. The smallest boxed quantity you can get is a box of six, with each macaron costing $2.50. I stood in queue patiently… and being a newbie, I knew I needed time with my choices. But when it was my turn, the little shop suddenly became packed with people queueing behind me… eeek!
I hastily picked six flavours.
I left the shop happy, with the beautifully designed box in my grubby paws. I admit that there’s pleasure in having such delicate little sweets spanning the colours of the rainbow in your hands. Sitting in the tram ride home, I kept worrying that they’d fall apart as the tram clunked and jostled its way to the sea. If only I could click my heels together and…
*koff* … But anyway, once back at home, I had a little ‘tea ceremony’. Lol so girlish… having a few of the macarons with a freshly steeped cup of Lupicia Earl Grey tea and my laptop in front of me. I even caught myself sitting cross legged… whoops! On their own, I’d normally find macarons too sweet, but they went well with the tea. Light, airy… with a crisp freshness and good collapse as you nibble into them.
I liked the salted caramel best because they were quite confident with using salt in it. The rest didn’t rock my boat that much as I’m not normally a huge fan of macarons anyway, but I will admit that the quality was good. To be honest, I chose to try La Belle Miette because I wanted a good point of comparison for when I visit France later this year.
Finally, just because we’re no longer brunching together doesn’t mean Fakegf and I don’t meet up. She stopped by after work and we did a bit of food exchange. My homemade Mapo Tofu (not from a packet) for a stack of her yummy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (sweetened with stevia). Yay to home cooking and food swaps!!