Sunday, September 21, 2008

Punch Lane

After flicking through my 2009 copy of The Age Good Food Guide, I deicded on Punch Lane as the choice of dining locations as my friends left it to me to choose. The description in the Good Food Guide sounded really interesting and turned out to be quite accurate.

Punch Lane is located on the very crowded Spring street end of Little Bourke. You walk into a dark lit restaurant that is separted into two areas. The main bar is situated in the large more brightly lit room housing large chalk boards with specials and wines and numerous wooden tables. We were seated in the more intimate adjoining area where there was only 5-6 tables.

The waitress asked us for drinks and what type of water we wanted. As I don't believe in paying for any type of water, I asked for tap water. While we browsed the drinks menu, the waitress informed us about the night's specials in a knowledgeable fashion. The service throughout the night was efficient and friendly without being atrusive. The timing of the dishes is possibly a bit slow, but I guess some people like to take longer for their meals.

We started with a Tasting Plate, which contained some very interesting and tantalising array of flavours. There was empanadas, chicken liver parfait, Manchago cheese with Quince paste, Grilled Eggplant, Prosciutto and my favourite of the lot, Red Peppers stuffed with Goat's Cheese and topped with a White Anchovy.

Initially, we all wanted to have the Steak. But after some discussion, we decided to go with a larger variety of mains and share it. The mains we choose were obviously the Steak which was paired with a Parsnip Puree and Roasted Bone Marrow. A Confit of Duck with paired with Braised Red Cabbage and Apple. Finally, the Seared Scallops had a Artichoke Mash, Lemon and Caper Butter.

The Steak was very tender but surprisingly, the fillet cut lacked a bit of flavour. I loved the bone marrow and sucked out all of it in one big whoosh. Why don't more restaurants serve bone marrow, it's so unctuous (shout outs to Towser and Agnes, did I use this word correctly?) but addictive.

The Seared Scallops contained large plump scallops that were so full of flavour. The fresh tasting scallops really made this dish. The capers helped to provide a bit of kick to the dish, but the scallops could have been served by themselves and would still be a great dish.

Finally, the Duck Confit surprised me. The duck was not overly dry and the dish was balance of sweet, sour and salty. The apples were a great addition I thought.

For desserts, we got the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Poached Quince and the Rice Pudding with Rhubarb Compote. The pudding was a bit coying and we all just had a few spoons because the Panna Cotta was so unbelievably good that everyone was fighting for that. This was one of the smoothest Panna Cotta's I've tried and the Vanilla bean specks throughout the panna cotta could be tasted clearly. Paired with the fragrant quince, it was a perfect dessert.

The food was surprisingly better than I expected. What sounded on paper like dishes that were served at numerous other restaurants was excuted with skill and good ingredients, giving rise to some excellent flavours.

Service, as mentioned early was both efficient and unobtrusive. The atmosphere in the section of the room we were in was a bit more muted, but not overly so that you dare not speak at all. The lighting was a touch dark for my liking but otherwise it was quite comfortable.

Overall Rating: 15/20, Good food with some good service to match.

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.

Punch Lane on Urbanspoon


  1. wow thanh, you've really put up a lot of posts in such a short time. i'm very impressed. i wonder how long you can keep this up for ;)

    it's funny - i'd never really heard about punch lane, but after you mentioned it to me, i seem to be hearing about it a lot - from friends, from other blogs, from the gf, etc etc.

    the food looks so good, i can see why now!

  2. oh, and yes you used unctuous correctly!

  3. How come there are no shots of Fat Dennis?

  4. James, I had written most of these posts in my head during each dining session. I just never committed them to paper. And it's amazing how quickly they are to write when you don't get distracted. This was nearly a month's worth of posts, so usually I would post only about 2-3 posts a week.

    Punch Lane is quite a good place. You should go try it out. As for noticing it more, there's a psychological study that shows that when someone is pointed out to your attention, your brain actually has this subjective bias to it that makes you think you are seeing it everywhere. Do you ever notice like when you buy a new pair of shoes or some t-shirt, it seems like the whole world suddenly got it as well.

    I was trying to work unctuous in somewhere when I saw it on an Epicure article and two blog posts. Like you, I thought it was everywhere all of a sudden.

    Oblivion, why do you have to insult Dennis as well. He's going to the gym to lose weight. He doesn't go around calling you Drunk Oblivion.

  5. That's cuz he aint got that much time reading your bogs

  6. Good work on getting unctuous in there, Thanh. :)

    I agree with James - that's a lot of posts in such a short time! Even when I have the bulk of a post written out, it still takes me ages to finish them off and get them posted. In fact, I've got one 90% completed now and what am I doing instead? Commenting on blogs!

  7. Thanks Agnes. I was trying to use that word somewhere after seeing it on a few blogs.

    I found it was quite easy to write since I had most of it written in my head already. It's the formatting and uploading the photos that usually take longest.

  8. i'm the opposite thanh - i have a lot of drafts for my bog where they contain the photos (with the names of the meals and the prices), and then later on i form the words around it.
    i'm not sure if i'm more of a visual person, but i like the idea of doing it that way.

    and yes, uploading pics takes the longest!

  9. James, I definitely need the photos to jog my memory about what the food items were, but usually I start writing the text and fit in the photos around it.

    I wish there was a really easy way to upload photos and have them in the format you want them already. If only you can drag them from your computer's hard drive and drop it straight into the text editor area of the html page and be able to manipulate the photos even. Now that's an idea most bloggers would like.