Bulleen VIC 3105
Ph: (03) 9852 0777
My friend Kevin was telling me about how good Tao's Restaurant is, and combined with a discount from the Entertainment Book, it works out to good value as well. So Ling and I went there for dinner.
The restaurant is located all the way out in Bulleen, off a really tight turn on Bulleen Road. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the restaurant was very busy and packed out. I guess good things never stay a secret.
The only choice you have for the meal is a $50 banquet. You do get to pick your entree, mains and desserts. The meal starts off with an Appetiser, which consisted on this occasion of a piece of tomato, prawn tempura and a crisp with mash potato. For the entrees, Ling got the Sashimi while I got the Oysters in Japanese Flavours. I love the presentation of the dishes and both entrees were good.
A Chawa-Mushi follows the entree, which is smooth and tasty. Inside contained seafood, which is different to the norm and a bit of a surprise. A choice of soups also precedes the main course. The Ginseng Chicken Herbal soup I got was so comforting. Also before the main meal is a palate cleanser of a tomato consomme, served in this attractive iced bowl.
So by this stage, when you are actually feeling quite full already, out comes your mains choice. I chose the Hot Stone Sizzling Steak and Ling chooses the Confit Duck Leg with White Wine Sauce. My steak is spectacular, arriving all sizzling and flaming everywhere. It draws attention from other patrons. The confit duck arrives in a paper bag, which makes me wonder how "confit" it is. Both dishes are quite tasty, with the steak having a classic pepper steak flavour and the duck tasting more baked than confit. Mains are served with a cute bowl of fried rice as well, and it's surprisingly good.
And now that your full to the max, you have to find a bit more room for desserts. We choose the Creme Brulee and the Pannacotta. The Brulee was good, with all the bases ticked from crispy sugar top to smooth custard. The Lemon Pannacotta was way too sweet, and they put whipped cream on top of it too. The green tea slick, cause I'm always curious how all elements taste, was purely decorative as it was bitter as anything. They basically mixed green tea powder with water.
The restaurant is quite nicely decorated with flowing white semi-opaque curtains separating the space. However, my pet peev of low restaurant lighting bugged me a bit. The space also felt a bit sparsely strange in terms of how they laid the tables. It could be re-arranged a bit better I think to enhance the atmosphere. It felt a bit isolated.
The service was friendly and efficient, possibly too efficient. They were ready to clear away plates when we weren't finished and brought out dishes when we were still eating the previous thing. I'm not sure whether they want to turn around tables or if they are just so used to serving the food fast.
Overall, it's a good place to eat and works out to be good value. It sits somewhere between fine dining as the food, service, location don't quite hit the high highs but it's definitely above average dining.
Overall Rating: 14/20, Food is good in a nice surrounding.
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.