The old Melbourne Hotel in Milligan Street has undergone a long and very striking renovation, resulting in a venue with a number of interesting and exciting food and beverage outlets, none more so than the Cantonese restaurant, Grand Orient.
In the space that was once the main bar – I remember many years ago, when the Old Melbourne was a top live music venue, seeing Taj Mahal performing here –is now a very well set up Chinese restaurant – from the eye catching wall coverings, the light fittings and to the plate and glass ware and attentive waiters it is an impressive spot.
Lady FWO and I stopped in for lunch during the week and the food was very good, indeed. As was the wine list – a bottle of Swinney’s Tirra Lirra Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer blend went down a treat with the food – pears and citrus on the nose, along with some musky notes, and a spicy palate with lemon and lychee flavours.
The menu is certainly not your run of the mill Chinese place – and we kicked off our meal with a plate of tempura battered oysters – crisply coated, juicy and slippery inside – and served on a bed of greens sloshed in a spicy hot and sour sauce – lots of zing and chilli notes – very good.
Next, another starter, pan fried scallops – perfectly flash cooked, retaining a firm bite and served with basil, pine nuts and oil – the accompaniments not what you would expect from this style of cuisine, but it all worked very well.
Moving on to the mains – and here we had two absolutely splendid dishes – first Teo Chew style steamed toothfish – the fish flaky and succulent, sitting in a cloudy, salty broth and topped with a mix of pickled vegetable strips – superb, one of the best fish dishes we have had in recent months.
And with it – truffle seafood fried rice – well what can you say about fried rice? This was brilliant – oily and al dente rice, flicked through with earthy and aromatic truffles and a mix of perfectly cooked seafood – prawns, crunchy and sweet, chopped scallops – so good.
And we finished with a refreshing dish of coconut filling pressed between layers of jelly – again beautifully presented and a cool and palate enlivening finish to a delightful meal.
The Grand Orient really is a statement of what top quality Chinese food can be – this is just a classy place – excellent food, great surrounds, very good drinks list, professional waiters. Recommended.