Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taxi Dining Room

Federation Square
Level 2 of Transport Hotel, Cnr Princes Bridge & Northbank St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9654 8808

A group of us had gone to Taxi Dining Room to celebrate Ling's graduation from a double degree of Law and Engineering. She's one smart cookie. I had been wanting to go to Taxi for quite a while, hearing and reading lots of good review. And with one of Melbourne's most established chef in Michael Lambie, I was expecting a lot. I guess with great expectations can come great disappointment.

The Taxi Dining Room space is one of prime real estate. It's second story location over the river provides a beautiful view when the sun is setting over the city. It has a lovely airy feel since the windows were all open and light was streaming in everywhere.

Whilst we ummm-ed and ahhh-ed over whether to go the full 7 course degustation or the smaller 5 course, I got a photo with my number 1 food blog fan, Angie. She's apparently my most devoted reader, checking out my blog every day, only to find I haven't updated in ages. I should point her towards using RSS. It'll save her a lot of time due to my infrequent posting. Anyway, in the end we went for the 5 course degusation as the girls thought they couldn't finish 7 and we couldn't do a split course.

The first course was a Tuna Tartare with Caviar and a Soy Black Bean Sauce. This dish was absolutely melt in your mouth divine. I loved the finely diced tuna and how it just slid down my throat with the brilliant sauce. After this dish, my expectations were through the roof, but I was to be disappointed.

The next dish was a Prawn Gyoza. It was an ok dish, but actually no better than other dumplings that can be had around town. The skin wasn't particularly good, as that's where the biggest separator between a good and bad gyoza is I think. I once watched this Japanese anime about cooking where the chef threw away all the meat in the gyoza and just ate the skin. He said that the meat is there to just provide flavour to be absorbed into the skin. It was an anime so don't read too much into it, but the skin is the hardest part to get right for a gyoza I think. What do you think? Do you know of any extremely fantastic gyozas around Melbourne?

The next dish of Seared Kingfish with a Cucumber Lobster Salad and Celeriac Puree was actually a real let down. The kingfish was way overcooked until it was quite tough. I didn't think the matching condiments really went with the fish either.

The mains of Crispy Szechwan Duck with Lime Pickles, Vietnamese Salad and Tamarind Sauce was again quite disappointing. The flavour profiles worked quite well actually, but the duck was tough as an 18 wheeler truck. It was indestructible and we were all really struggling to cut it apart, let alone eat it. It was so chewy, it was ridiculous. The layer of fat under the skin was still so think and had not been rendered away at all. This meant we had to peel off a lot of the skin just to avoid eating all that duck fat.

The meal rounded off with a dessert of Pannacotta with Coffee Crumble and Coffee Ice Cream. It was quite a nice dessert, but a bit heavy with the coffee I think. That really dominated the flavour and you could hardly taste the pannacotta anymore.

The ambience in the restaurant is a bit strange. Since we were seated in the balcony area, I'm not sure what it was like inside the restaurant. But in the balcony, due to the open nature of the space, having tables set really sparse made you feel really isolated. I guess it's a good thing if you like that, but it makes the whole place seem a bit dead and dull. That's just my personal opinion, what do others think about table settings? Do you like them set really really far apart? I feel it detracts from the overall ambience of a place.

The service was acceptable but I felt it to be way too over the top. The waiters were reciting things as if they were in a Shakespeare production. Also, when they talked to us, it just felt like they were talking past us. How many times can you keep reasking the same question "Oh, so you just graduated right? What course did you do again?" without it feeling fake. Also, despite the massive number of wait staff, it was actually really hard to get their attention. And when we left and paid the bill, they couldn't even be bothered to say thanks and show us out, just left us confused as to whether we should go or wait for change from our money. We did intend to put the money as a tip, but we didn't know if we should wait for them to bring back the bill with the change or go. After ten minutes and no bill being returned, we just upped and left.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Food was good and bad. Service and ambience not very good.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Taxi Dining Room on Urbanspoon


  1. A pity your meal wasn't great but I am not particularly surprised. I first went to taxi years ago when it first opened and had a pretty good meal there. I have since been back a couple of times and the most recent experience was pretty poor. We went for lunch mid-week, the restaurant was mostly empty except for our table and they still took over 2 hours to bring out our main courses - one person had to get back to the office and hadn't ordered entree, so had sat for 2 hours and only ate bread. Terrible! When the food arrived it was pretty hit and miss... I don't plan on visiting again anytime soon.

  2. Hi Emily and Saskia, the meal wasn't as good as I had hoped. The service and food was a bit hit and miss. Your lunch sounded awful. Two hours for food in an empty restaurant, that shouldn't be tolerated at any restaurant, let alone a hatted restaurant.

  3. I, myself, went to Taxi for the first time many years ago and did enjoy my meals there. It was still pretty good up and until 2-3 years ago. What a shame. I thought the menu and food were getting a bit old and boring. Despite this, it won't stop me from trying out Michael Lambie's new bistro!