20 years on and Punch Lane appears to be in more than perfect working condition. A minor facelift and updated food offering means this cherished laneway restaurant has never looked better.
With exposed natural wood grains, lamps that were salvaged from an Indian naval vessel, leather banquets and heavy use of accented wood tones, the dining room exudes a familial warmth and openness that is unique in Melbourne.
Adding to the comfortable surrounds is warm hospitality combined with high quality, unpretentious food and wine, setting the perfect environment of style and fun for after-work drinks or pre-dinner gatherings.
The menu features Mediterranean cuisine, which Chef Daniel Schelbert has reimagined.
Kingfish, burnt orange, avocado, pistachio
Our evening commenced with a delightful cold entrée dish of Kingfish. A positive highlight, the thick slices of very fresh kingfish were served with burnt orange, avocado, and pistachio. The dish was notable for the quality of the kingfish and the interplay between the tartness of the burnt orange and the richness of the avocado. It was incredibly flavoursome and well executed.
Slow cooked salmon, caramelised yoghurt, bois boudran & sorrel
The second entrée of slow cooked salmon was again, delicious. Boasting a lovely deep pink colour, the fish carried a rich depth of flavour. The accompanying elements of caramelised yoghurt, bois boudran and sorrel were classic accompaniments which completed the dish.
Continuing the trend for the evening, the mains were delicious.
We ordered an item from the “specials” list – the John Dory, and were very pleased that we did. Having been cooked to perfection, the John Dory had an enjoyably firm yet soft texture and was bursting with flavour.
Our final savoury course of the evening, the roast duck, consisted of slices of duck breast which were cooked to a rarely found perfection. We enjoyed the subtleness of the soubise which allowed the rich flavour of the duck to shine through. The accompanying witlof added texture while the slightly tart cumquats provided balance to this luxurious dish.
Orange polenta cake, rhubarb, lemon ice cream
Banana parfait, candied walnut, maple ice cream
Our dinner concluded with a well-conceived dessert that exhibited flawless flavour combinations and textural diversity. The mild maple ice cream offset the accompanying rich bittersweet banana parfait while the candied walnut added a desirable touch of sweetness. Texturally, the crunchiness of the toffee, silkiness of the ice cream and gumminess of the caramelised banana slices ensured that each bite was as titillating as the last.
20 years on and Punch Lane’s place in the upper echelon of Melbourne’s culinary institutions appears secure for the foreseeable future.
Location: 43 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne Phone: 03 9639 4944 Link: http://www.punchlane.com.au/ Cuisine: Mediterranean, Wine Bar, Modern Australian