Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
11. Nov, 2013
Fireballs and pokies are the two terms that spring to mind when someone mentions Crown. But the casino’s come a long way since the idea of fancy dining was Planet Hollywood or choosing lemon chicken from the food court.
Nobu, Rockwell and Spice Temple are all adding to Crown’s culinary chips, while the recent reno of Number 8 means it’s a fair bet you’ll find something better than Burger Rings this side of Southbank.
The newly minted and re-badged No. 8 by John Lawson sees the affable Essex chef take the reigns of the riverside venue. A smart fit-out compliments Lawson’s menu featuring Victorian produce done a little bit fancy – belying his pedigree working with peeps like Gordon Ramsay at The London, Daniel Boulud at New York’s Daniel and Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saison with Raymond Blanc.
At the moment that means Barwon lamb raised exclusively for Lawson’s kitchen, free range Milawa ducks and micro sunflower from Flowerdale Farms. Wines can be matched by sommelier Tom Stow to the region you’re dining from.
Proceedings started with potato, honey and rosemary bread served with seaweed butter from EDS Breads, baked exclusively for the restaurant. It was warm, soft and as good as anything I’d tried from the artisan bakers in Melbourne. I could honestly have made a three-course meal just from this stuff. But Lawson had other plans.
Which involved dipping my Victorian beak in the Flowerdale farm Spring salad (wheat berries, baby carrots and pea shoots, $18). The wheat berries are similar in textures and taste to barley and it was a refreshing start. Though I wanted to order more bread.
Next was the truly excellent Milawa duck breast with shallot puree, asparagus and peas ($36). I love duck, and not just because it rhymes with another of my favourite words. Lawson’s duck was plump, came wrapped in a crisp, salty skin and had a satisfying meat to fat ratio. The asparagus added a nice crunch. You’d be quackers not to try it.
To end I couldn’t go by the banana split with rum caramel and toasted hazelnuts ($17). All the flavours you’d expect plus a healthy dollop of nostalgia. Sort of like Planet Hollywood.
If you find yourself down Crown way, you’d do worse than trying John Lawson’s cooking. I reckon they’d go great guns selling that bread direct to punters.
NO. 8 BY JOHN LAWSON
Riverside at Crown
Lunch: Mon – Sun 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: Sun – Thurs 6pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat 5.30pm – 10.30pm
Garden Design Fest showcases 46 of Victoria’s most spectacular gardens, highlighting the work of some of the most acclaimed garden designers in the country.
Milk Bar Magazine speaks with Amelia Trompf, the author of the new children's book Who is Fitzy Fox?, set right here in Melbourne.
The NGV has been filled with the talented Edgar Degas’ art containing 206 pieces of work.
Bail Out's plans to help out Melbourne's disadvantaged youth.
Snap away with The Fox Darkroom, a mecca for photography aficionados to learn all about the traditional methods of black and white photography.
It almost sounds like the premise of a reality TV show: pile a bunch of artists in a bus for seven days, send them across Mexico and see what happens.