I hadn't heard about Lina's Bistro before but later found out it's right opposite the Albert Park Hotel. It's got a cute small shop front where the old skool blue neon sign with the shop's name is in one corner. Inside, the space is a long narrow homely bar and dining area. As it turns out, the restaurant is actually a refurbished house so hence the cosy feeling. The bar area runs along one side wall while the other is lined with spot lit bottles of wine. Posters and framed artwork really give a great ambiance.
We were seated at the tables at the back, on simple wooden chairs and tables. We started our meal with some nice Pinot Noir, because wine is the best start to every meal right, right?
We shared entrees of the Charcuterie Platter and Crumbed Sardines. I think sardines are so underrated in Australia and people see it only as cat food. That's such a waste as they're a beautiful fish, and thank goodness the Europeans and Asians appreciate that and cook sardines in wonderful dishes. I loved the crispy crumbed sardines served with a mayonnaise. The charcuterie platter was also really good, a mix of cured meats, pickles and my favourite Manolete chorizo. The chorizo is really so different to other brands and I highly recommend it.
For mains, we shared a Braised Chicken and Pulled Lamb. The chicken was an extremely simple but hearty dish of tender meat served with potatoes that were also in the braise. The pulled lamb was also tender and had great flavour, served with a gnocchi like dumpling. I really enjoyed the simplicity of both dishes.
For dessert, we shared a Chocolate Fondant and Creme Brulee. The fondant was quite good, although I felt it was overcooked a bit so the centre was not oozy. It was more like a warm chocolate cake than fondant. The brulee itself was rich, creamy and smooth. However, it was let down by the thick sugar topping. I love a thinner topping with slight caramelised parts so that it all melts together in your mouth as you bite into the sugar and custard. The thickness of this sugar topping meant it was really hard to chew through and spoiled the flavour and texture of this simple dessert.
The service was efficient and unobtrusive. When I asked whether I was correct in identifying the chorizo brand, the waiter was able to tell me more about the product, which I appreciated. I loved the ambiance and feel in this small bistro. It's really relaxing and a great space to enjoy food. I liked the simplicity of the food, which was very tasty. I would recommend trying out Lina's Bistro for an easy relaxed meal.
Overall Rating: 14/20, A great relaxing space for some enjoyable simple French bistro food.
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.
My guest and I dined courtesy of Lina's Bistro.