Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Magic Mountain Saloon

August 12, 2015

Cindy and I had a Wednesday night free and decided to freshen up our restaurant game a bit by heading into the city to try somewhere new and buzzy. Magic Mountain Saloon fit the bill - it's run by the people who run hipster-magnets Cookie, The Toff and Revolver and is getting a lot of blog attention (see the link list below). We turned up at 6:45 without a booking and were relegated to a pretty uncomfortable corner of the bar, so the word is clearly out - it's definitely a place you should book for. The venue's split over three levels - the ground floor is restauranty, with tables and a longish bar, the mezzanine is small with a couple more tables and the top level feels more like a bar with some tables - a lot more people hanging out and drinking rather than sitting down for dinner.

It's moodily lit, with a red glow cast over everything and clubby music pumping away at a volume just below 'really annoying'. The staff are friendly and reasonably efficient, and were quick to set us up and offer us drinks. I unadventurously ordered a beer, while Cindy took on the Cuban creaming soda ($5), with vanilla syrup, lime and mint.

The food menu was Chin Chin-esque: a mix of dishes of different sizes and styles that are designed to be shared. There's a reasonable number of vego options - three appetisers, five sides and a couple of bulkier wok dishes. We somehow resisted the lotus root, peanut and pickled turnip dumplings ($14.50), instead opting for the curried rice and mozzarella balls with a coriander and avocado sauce ($12.5) to get things started.

They were a Thai twist on arancini, with a nice curry kick cutting through the rice and cheese. Next up we tried the green papaya, yard beans, tomato, avocado and peanut salad ($17.50).

I quite liked the idea of this - take the classic papaya salad and mix it up with some generous chunks of avocado. That combo really worked, but the whole dish was loaded up with so much chilli that it was hard to really enjoy it.

Finally, we ordered the tofu red curry with eggplant, yard beans and makrut lime leaves ($21.50), with a couple of rotis on the side ($5.50 each). The mix of tofu and veggies in the curry were great, as were the roti breads - the curry sauce was passable, but in contrast to the salad was overly sweet and lacking in spice. Once the chilli burn from the salad passed, this was a bit on the plain side.

We finished up with a split dessert - a coconut and lime panacotta with strawberry and mint compote ($14.50).

This was tangy, smooth and sweet, but it didn't really knock my socks off - I should always order something chocolate-based for dessert I think.

Our dinner at Magic Mountain Saloon was passable - the food was okay, the service was sharp and the vibe was pleasant enough. It's clearly trying to muscle in on the incredibly successful Chin Chin territory (although to be fair, Cookie's been working a similar space for years), but it didn't quite measure up to those standards. I'm interested in trying out their breakfast menu, but I doubt we'll hurry back for dinner.

Magic Mountain Saloon has good reviews, although the high spice factor comes up in quite a few reviews - check out Stuck in Transit, frenchtoastandindiepop, Nom's Adventure, The Baroness of Melbourne, Delightfully Tasty, foodie about town, bonjourchickie, nik-nak castle, Spoonfuls of Wanderlust, The Glutton's Diet, The Everyday Melburnian, The New Fave and kT Eats World. There are some reviews of a freebie breakfast event at Barley Blog, Gastrology, I'm So Hungree and Sweet and Sour Fork.

Magic Mountain Saloon
62 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
9078 0078
menu, soft drinks

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry and the interior is pretty crowded. There's a mix of bar stools and regular tables and full table service. The gendered bathrooms are located on the third floor - I didn't see a lift anywhere.


  1. That's sad you guys didn't like the food :-( I've been there twice in the last few months for dinner and loved it! Those Asian inspired arancini balls were my favourite!

    1. Hi Moni! The arancini balls were our favourite too. The rest was just out of balance for our tastes.