Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 18, 2009: Idea Fine Food and Wine

Michael and I crammed our Comedy Festival experience into one weekend. Booking four shows over two nights, one dinner at Lord of the Fries seemed compulsory. For the other we picked out a slightly special Chinatown restaurant, Idea Fine Food and Wine, from the Melbourne Veg Food Guide; I had a small success at work to celebrate.

From the outside, I wouldn't distinguish Idea from the myriad Asian restaurants in the neighbourhood. However it's elegantly fitted out (though a bit noisy when full) and has a specially dedicated menu page of vegetarian entrees and mains; what surprised us most on entering was their extensive list of wines and other alcoholic drinks.

The Veg Food Guiders raved about the vegetarian 'Szechuan' eggplant hot pot ($19), and we didn't think twice about ordering it. It arrived promptly and sizzling, full of meltingly soft vegetables. I ate around the chunks of red chilli and enjoyed a mild spiciness; Michael cleaned his plate and felt the heat.

It's difficult to imagine why the Veg Food Guiders didn't similarly exalt the spicy bean curd ($18.80, pictured top - perhaps the reviewer was vegan and the batter, egg-based). The silky-soft tofu had a crisp-battered shell and was seasoned with a most swoon-worthy spicy salt. The plate offers extra shards of batter and crispy-fried onions, just the thing to spark duelling chopsticks when the tofu's gone.

I'm not sure how the Food Guiders stumbled across Idea Fine Food and Wine amongst the bewildering local array of Asian restaurants but I'm grateful that they did. The terrific tofu alone could easily lure me away from the Chinese mock meats that are my vice.

Update 10/5/10: Idea Fine Food and Wine has closed its doors. We're going to spend the rest of our days yearning for that eggplant.

Address: 146-148 Little Bourke St, Melbourne CBD
Ph: 9663 8829
Fully licensed
Price: veg entrees $5.80-$8.80, mains $14.80-$19, rice extra


  1. I have been drooling over the Idea Food and Wine review since it landed in my inbox. Now I doubly can't wait to check it out! Their food looks and sounds amazing.

  2. Lisa, the veg*n mains list isn't long, but it needn't be with fab dishes like these on offer. :-)

  3. You do that, Bunches! There's plenty of non-veg*n dishes at Idea for you to assess too. :-)

  4. I have eaten twice there in the past few weeks (I read this post, passed by ... and went in!) and had to really restrain myself from licking the pot after the Szechuan eggplant. Dear Lord it's fantastic!

  5. You'd have to pick your moment, Miss T, given how sizzling hot it arrives. :-D