Monday, January 15, 2007

SOS Melbourne, La Trobe Street, Melbourne

SOS Melbourne, La Trobe Street, Melbourne
Monday 15 January, 2007

I had received so many recommendations to dine here that it had gone to the top of my list of 'must visit' places in Melbourne. As their promotional blurb states,

Entrepreneur Paul Mathis has taken protecting marine life and the ocean environment to heart. His latest culinary concept SOS, located in Melbourne Central, is a restaurant with soul.

With a menu that showcases sustainably produced and ethically harvested seafood and seasonal produce, SOS is a labour of love for the dynamic Mathis. Signature Mathis design elements like floor-to-ceiling windows, combined with polished concrete surfaces, carpets with intense pink and red motifs and a row of poplars, make the restaurant an impressive setting in which to enjoy Italian-inspired cuisine.

Actually locating SOS is a challenge. We entered Melbourne Central and took the escalators up to the 3rd floor. There was no signage so we wandered around aimlessly until we spotted a boarded up entrance...or so we thought. As we stood there pondering whether the place was even open a secret door was revealed and slid open before us. It startled us a little and we were hesitant to step inside. A long dimly lit corridor took us past three velvet curtained 'doors' and a feature garden before we arrived in the restaurant.

A large open space greeted us but no staff. There was a kitchen to the right, large bees screen printed to the walls and long communal tables. I'm not a fan of the communal table so was pleasantly surprised when a staff member did discover us and invited us outside on the large open deck. The restaurant was empty except for four tables disappointing.

Our waiter had also been to the tennis today so we spoke about this at length before she thought to provide us with the menu and wine list. The wine list and menu are dotted with bees next to certain items. We had no idea what this meant but later learnt this indicated organic wine or produce.

We were served an amuse bouche of beetroot & goats cheese that was delicious - the strong taste of beetroot had my mouth watering for more. I ordered the layered eggplant, tomato, basil & mozzarella for entree and the SOS Fish & chips for main. The eggplant dish was sensational - it came to the table in a small black skillet and was very hot but very tasty. The blend of flavours from the thinly sliced eggplant, small chunks of tomato, basil and generous serve of mozzarella was really very good.

The SOS Fish & chips was promised as different and it was. It came to the table as two grilled fillets of fish and finely shaved potato wafers placed strategically across the top. It was a light dish and pleasant but I was expecting more. In hindsight I wish I had tried something else.

We contemplated dessert and then both settled on the SOS Violet Crumble - white chocolate ice-cream layered with a milk chocolate granache served with pieces of honeycomb. It was beautifully presented, rich and a delicate portion - any more would have spiked my sugar levels.

I couldn't help but feel there was something missing here - maybe it was because it was Monday night and there were only a handful of dinner guests, the service was lacking and the food was great in parts. It certainly did not live up to the recommendations we had received but it has so much potential.

SOS Melbourne - Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne - (03) 9654 0808


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph, Love Hairy Canary - my home away from home in Melb. Did you know they have opened a second place called canary club - at 6 melb place. I havent checked it out yet.

Also in Melb did you check out Babka - a superb bakery & rest that has the most beautiful breakfast in melb - follow that up with a coffee at atomica in brunswick st (superb coffee) - regards rodney

8:12 am  
Blogger Steph said...

Hi Rodney,
Thanks for your post.
I have heard of Canary Club but didn't get there on this brief visit.
Appreciate the recommendation for Babka - sounds great - I will add it to my list.

1:43 pm  

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