Having been open for decades, Prince Hotel’s celebrated restaurant has recently underwent a radical transformation at the end of last year to provide its diners with an experience that is less "fine dining" and more relaxed. Enter Prince Dining Room. Gone are the formal settings – you won’t see white linen table cloths here. In its place is a refurbished dining room dominated by urban and grungy tones - consistent with the current restaurant vogue.
The current setting has a bright airy spaciousness which creates a comfortable informal feel. At the same time, the use of separate adjoining rooms connected to the main dining room fosters the impression that the dining room is smaller than it actually is and manufactures an element of intimacy.
Over the years, the PDR kitchen has played host to a number of highly acclaimed chefs. Now at the pass, Executive Chef Dan Hawkins and Head Chef Dan Cooper’s are charged with the responsibility of maintaining the restaurant’s esteemed reputation. The current menu is light, flavoursome and inspired by hyper-seasonal ingredients, always working at the peak of the seasons.
We loved tasting our way through the menu.
To start beautiful Eggplant zaalouk dip with crisp fish crackers whet our appetites. Wonderfully tender and flavoursome Wagyu beef skewers marinated in coriander, cumin and fermented chilli followed shortly after. Cooked over a wood fired barbeque, they boasted a wonderful smokiness from being cooked over flavour-enhancing wood chips.
The dish of Fiocco, buffalo mozzarella and basil flatbread was similarly delicious. The appeal of PDR’s flatbread lies in its beautiful crusts and the use of quality produce. There is a pleasant freshness underlying the buffalo mozzarella, milky in flavour and pleasingly delicate in texture.
For mains the Yellow fish curry, coconut, coriander was a stunner. The perfectly seasoned curry broth possessed the customary punchy flavours exhibited by South East Asian curries and was a great match for the silky texture of the garfish.
If you want something heartier, then do not go past the BBQ beef short rib, fragrant herbs, pickles. Generous morsels of beef short ribs that were falling off the bone were beautifully tender and succulent.
The desserts that followed were consistent with the savoury courses - superbly executed. The first dessert of Woodfired cheesecake had a vibrant combination of flavours. The cheesecake simply melted in our mouths and possessed just the perfect level of sweetness which was further enhanced by the slices of quince with the sweetness of the gingerbread ice cream. The second dessert of PDR chocolate and coconut tart was a chocoholic’s dream. Rich, decadent and just simply moreish.
Combining warm, amiable service, and an impressive menu within chic yet relaxed surrounds, PDR is worth visiting, and revisiting. Under the guidance of Hawkins and Cooper, PDR is more than capable of maintaining its legacy forged over the past decades. And it just so happens to be located in a hotel if you fancy staying the night.
Location: 2 Acland Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9536 1122