133 Ormond Rd, Elwoon - ph: (03) 9531 4900
I refer to Urbanspoon a lot for tips on which restaurants to visit and tend to rely a bit too much on it. I was shocked by Dandelion's approval rate of only little more than 50%. How is it possible that this brilliant restaurant has got such an average rating?!? Reading the reviews I noticed the negative comments where mainly based on price.
Granted, Dandelion is not the cheapest restaurant in town, especially when compared to the average Vietnamese restaurant. But then Dandelion is certainly not an 'average Vietnamese' restaurant.
Chef Geoff Lindsay's (ex-Pearl Restaurant) passion for fresh, quality ingredients show in every dish. Vietnamese staples are presented with a twist and mixed with more contemporary cooking methods to create flavoursome, out-of-the-box dishes.
This is my second visit to Dandelion and I simply had the most amazing meal both times: a warming serve of Pho for a quick week lunch and a three-course dinner this time to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
Daily special - Whole whiting with green apple and pomegranate salad ($28)
We started with one of the day's special entree of crispy whiting with apple and pomegranate sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly and very soft. I would like to have seen more of the salad though. Great flavours with the acidic green apple, but just not enough of it.
Our mains were fantastic, not one negative comment about either of them. The duck was falling off the bone and refreshingly light with the coconut water and Asian greens.
Duck legs braised with coconut water, fresh green peppercorns, served with mandarin and blood orange salad ($39)
Mandarin and blood orange salad (served with the duck legs)
After trying it, I understand why the pork spare ribs were named this year's The Age Good Food Guide dish of the year. Vietnamese lettuce wraps never tasted this good. The unusual combination of pork and lychee worked perfectly. I'm normally not a ribs person, let alone pork ribs. This was obviously hubby's choice and I'm glad he went for it.
BBQ pork spare ribs with lychee and mint salad ($38)
Both mains were very generous serves and could easily have been shared by more than 2 people. As if we didn't have enough, hubby also ordered the special rice in lotus leave, which took a little longer to reach the table than the other dishes. Apparently the kitchen forgot to put the order through, but were quick to correct it once hubby pointed it out.
Lotus leaf wrapped fried rice with coconut and vegetables ($12)
Again, a generous serve of unexpected (and so very tasty) flavours in this classic fried rice dish variation.
There must always be enough room for dessert (it goes into a different compartment, doesn't it?) and we were intrigued by the Viet coffee creme caramel served with cashew nut praline and honeycomb.
Creme caramel ($15)
Yes, Dandelion is more expensive than most Vietnamese restaurants, but the food they serve is unique and so is the setting it's served at. The atmosphere and service at the restaurant are great. I'll have to disagree with Urbanspoon on this one - Dandelion is on my favourites' list.