October 20, 2011
While we've visited and enjoyed Birdman Eating for several breakfasts, we only recently looked over their evening tapas menu and gave it a go. It was a risk to take our friend Mike there - he's got this thing against shared plates - but after a little while wandering the neighbourhood, being turned away from and individually vetoing other restaurants in turn, we persuaded him to try it. The menu's just over half vegetarian and had a few items I was very keen to try.
Our waiter was a bit distant, just barely helpful and not really friendly, but successfully committed our order to memory.
First to arrive was the fried haloumi with a salad of red rice, dried sour cherries and pistachios ($15). Having enjoyed the flavour riots that are Ottolenghi's grain salads all year, this was disappointing. I couldn't taste the cherries or pistachios at all.
Unfortunately after our first plate, there was a long wait before we saw any more food. This was a little surprising, since the restaurant was at best half full.
The rest of our order arrived all at once. The confit kipfler potatoes with chilli salt and vanilla aioli ($9.50) were the highlight - a little greasy, but beautifully seasoned. The unexpected vanilla didn't stand out.
Meanwhile, the ricotta gnocchi with blue cheese, pear and chives ($16.50) didn't really come together. The gnocchi were large and bland, the blue cheese appeared as a few dry clumps... without a sauce these were just disparate ingredients in a pan.
It was not a performance to convert Mike to tapas. Yet having paid little more than $20 each to eat the rest of us didn't feel awfully cheated. If the dishes had lived up to their descriptions and we'd enjoyed the environment a little more, we would have been happy indeed with the price. Since they and we didn't, our next meal out with Mike is likely to involve jumbo burritos.
You can read about our visits to Birdman Eating for breakfast here and here. Meanwhile, the tapas menu has received very mixed reviews from others; see eyes on the fries, Foodie About Town, FOOD CHEE, The Love we make - The Love we take, Out of my kitchen, mochii eats, Fill My Belly in Melbourne, message in a bottle, The Gourmet Challenge and The Neo Melbournian.
238 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
veg tapas $7.50-17.50
Accessibility: Tables outside are on a sloping footpath. There's a small step on entry and tables are a little crowded. There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.