Located on Little Bourke St, Punch Lane is a wine bar and restaurant with a sophisticated menu consisting of beautifully innovative food in an intimate European setting.
We made a reservation to dine here using Dimmi’s 50% off the bill promotion. If it weren’t for it, we probably wouldn’t have ever known about this Melbourne gem. Nor would we have had the chance to try out the following delectable dishes…
From the moment you walk in, there is a romantic ambience to the place – with its wooden interiors and classic European decor. We were warmly greeted by the front of house staff and seated at a table underneath the impressive-looking rack of wines that they had available.
After ordering our meals, we were given a complimentary basket of fresh bread and olive oil dip.
We started off with an entree of swordfish coated with a layer of sesame on top, and pickled golden beetroot on the side. Tony and I had never had swordfish before so we thought that this would be a good opportunity to try it. Aside from the layer of sesame crust on top, the swordfish tasted like any other typical fish that you would get at a restaurant. Although the beetroot sauce certainly gave it an extra punch to the overall dish.
Confit Octopus $20.0
I absolutely loved everything about this second entree – from its weird introduction on the menu that had caught my attention, right down to its unusual presentation in the form of a terrine.
The individual pieces came apart so easily and the confiting of the meat rendered it to be the most tender and beautiful pieces of octopus that I have ever had in my life. Its pairing with the squid ink, caramelised oats, salmon roe and celery was one that had me a bit puzzled at first, but amazingly it all worked together perfectly.
John Dory $39.0
We ordered the John Dory upon the recommendation of our waitress who claimed it to be her favourite dish on the menu. The dish also came with grapes, which I had really wanted to try since Tony showed me a video just a few days earlier of a (fail) roast pork recipe that was served with grapes and rosemary.
If the octopus was my favourite dish, then this would be a close second. The fish was cooked beautifully with an enjoyably firm yet soft texture. The grapes certainly didn’t disappoint by helping to add a light and fruity component in between all of the rich verjus butter. And as for that random leaf thing on top, I haven’t a clue as to what it was but I liked it. Kudos to the chefs for this beautiful dish!
Lamb Rump $41.0
This was one of the specials of the day: the lamb rump (cooked medium rare) with whipped goats cheese, asparagus and red wine jus. The meat was very tender and moist and was cooked to perfection. I particularly enjoyed the whipped goats cheese and the side of jus that came with it.
Baked Cheesecake $15.0
The dessert dishes unfortunately didn’t live up to the entrees and mains but were nonetheless still enjoyable. Tony ordered the cheesecake complete with pistachio ice cream, cardamon and pieces of orange and cumquat. The ice cream was very nice but the cheesecake itself – I felt as though was lacking a little something. Although those chewy pieces of cumquat were an interesting addition to the dish!
Warm Gingerbread $16.0
Our second dessert of gingerbread with roasted quince and buttermilk curd was absolutely to die for. Originally it was the delicious dollop of crème fraîche ice cream that had me sold at first. But then a spoonful of that sweet gingerbread and some tangy buttermilk just brought the entire dish together. Not sure that I would call myself a fan of quince after this meal but it did go well together with the gingerbread.
Altogether the total of our bill came out to be around $150. But as we had made the booking using the promotion from Dimmi’s, we were able to get half off our entire bill. So in the end, our lavish lunch ended up costing us $75 in total. What a bargain!
The service here was exceptional and we were very well-looked after by the staff. There were some other dishes on the menu that had looked quite appealing (that cheese selection!), but I am not sure if I could justify coming back to pay for the full dining experience any time soon. But if you are ever in the mood to try out something new in Melbourne and are willing to spend a bit more on the town, Punch Lane is definitely the place to go.
Special thanks to Jessica for recommending this place (and the special deal).
Sophisticated menu with a cracking wine list, although pricey.
Punch Lane Wine Bar & Restaurant
43 Little Bourke St,
Melbourne VIC 3000