Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 11, 2008: A minor place II

To welcome various people back from their travels, a gang of us decided to catch up for dinner on Thursday night. Mike and Jo were talking up Tiba's, as was Cindy (thanks to a very old post by Truffle). What we weren't planning on was Ramadan. Tiba's was overflowing with people - huge groups gathering to break their day-long fast and just to hang out and be sociable. We were told that there was a two-hour wait for a table, so we decided to move on. Our first port of call was Nila Junction, but it was unexpectedly closed. By this stage we were getting hungry and a little frustrated, but Jo-Lyn saved the day by reminding us that A Minor Place offers more than just great breakfasts.

The dinner scene is much, much, quieter than breakfast - we wandered in and were presented with a corner booth that comfortably seated the six of us. The menu comes in two parts: dumplings and snacks ($5 - $9.50) and tapas ($9 - $13), both of which were reasonably well-stocked with vegetarian options. Cindy and I started things off with the battered eggplant and soybean, with chilli, onion and sweet soy ($11).

This was basically tempura eggplant and tempeh, slathered in delicious sauce and sprinkled with some crispy onion bits. There was a hint of chilli, but it was mostly about soy sauce and crunchy tempura batter (which avoided the soggy trap, despite the heavy saucing it got). And it's really very good - I'm pretty sure I had a fair bit more than my fair share, just mindlessly digging back in for more.

Next up were the dumplings: steamed mushroom and tofu dumplings, with soy and chilli dipping sauces ($9.50).

The dumplings were served still in their steamer and were fresh, hot and filled with delicious mush. With a bit of clumsy splashing about I soon had mine dunked in both sauces and was happily scarfing them down (again knocking off more than my share no doubt). I really enjoyed these, but they fell short of the dollars per dumpling ratio set by Camy (20 for $6.50 or 32.5c per dumpling compared with 9 for $9.50 or $1.06 per dumpling here). I guess you have to factor in ambience as well, which makes for a more complex equation - it's certainly a much more relaxed dumpling experience at A Minor Place.

Our final savoury choice was the spiced chickpeas with spinach and lemon ($10). Strangely, the menu description didn't mention the cinnamon, which was by far the strongest flavour in this dish. Whatever other spices they used the chickpeas were a little bit swamped, but the lemon was strong enough to shine through a bit. I really enjoyed it, but I was glad that we were sharing - a whole bowl of this would give you cinnamon poisoning.

We couldn't leave without sampling the dessert menu - there were only three options: portugese tarts ($4.50), spiced sangria granita with blackberries and mascarpone ($5.50) or churros with cinnamon sugar and warm chocolate sauce ($4.50). It was churros all round at our table - sweet, crispy churros.

These things were smothered in sugar - so much so that Jo-Lyn was shaking hers off before digging in. This kind of shamefully healthy behaviour was absent from our end of the table, and we quickly demolished our batch. The only downside: not quite enough chocolate sauce - Cindy and I were scraping the bottom of the sauce pot very quickly. With even more wanton disregard for health, Bode, Cindy and Jo split a Portugese tart - Cindy made some vaguely positive noises, but said it was a bit heavy on the eggs.

After a bit of a struggle to find somewhere to eat, we ended up scoring a hit with A Minor Place's dinner menu. The staff were friendly and helpful - coordinating our tapas arrivals so that our table wasn't overwhelmed and nothing went cold. It was nowhere near as cheap as Tiba's delights and at around $20 a pop plus drinks, it's probably not a place to go every week, but it's well worth stopping in when you're in the mood for something a little fancy.

Read about our breakfast trip to A Minor Place here.


  1. I wasn't even aware A Minor Place did dinner. Not that I really need another place to cater to my debilitating dumpling addiction (actually, yes I do, bring on the dumplings!).

  2. I think they've only started opening for dinner recently, Hayley! As always, Jo-Lyn's the girl with her finger on the pulse. The dumplings are good but I'd really recommend you go for the the tempura eggplant and tempeh!