Monday, October 02, 2006

Lunch in the sun

Cookie252 Swanston St, Melbourne.

The thing about Melbourne’s great City bars is they are either tiny little bolt holes in challenging to find laneways or huge spaces where noise has a habit of reverberating and multiplying. Most are known for their beers or cocktails. Few for their food. Cookie is in a straightforward location, with some clever private zones amidst its massive floor space and has a reputation for food as well as its 3 different, comprehensive alcohol menus (1 multipaged masterpiece for beer alone).

Having only experienced Cookie on a Friday night as it heated up with the after work/uni crowd, although the Thai inspired menu looked interesting it has either been the wrong end of the evening or so crowded your senses can be almost too overstimulated to contemplate eating.

When a friend suggested this be the perfect place for a long lunch, while the rest of Melbourne got excited over a football match - I was quick to agree. Weekend lunch at Cookie is not about DJ’s or atmosphere (of which the place has by the bucket load at night), the place was uncharacteristically quiet though the private dining “rooms” created by the row of Juliet balconies were of course already claimed. We were confident however that by the time our food arrived and the starting siren had blown they’d be a place for us out in the sun, overlooking Swanston Street, and that’s pretty much what happened.

The menu is divided into three sections offering small, medium and large plates. Just like clothing sizes for women, there is no guessing just how tiny or generous each serving size will be. Cookie tends to be on the roomy side, as small turned out to be quite a generous entrée and medium close to a regular serve. I’m glad we didn’t order any large dishes – as we would have had to have stayed all night as well as the afternoon to devour them. Though that wouldn’t have really been a problem, in our own little balcony world.

So the food. Sadly, there is no website to get the exact details from an online menu. I do remember a delicious Italian Pinot Grigio for Friuli. A crisp light white, perfect for lunch. Actually, I’d had this wine a number of times before and swear that despite it being so drinkable, even sizable amounts haven’t resulted in a hangover! To accompany the wine, conversation and glorious sunshine we ordered three dishes. One small but plentiful offering of shrimps (I’m sure they were described as prawns, but they weren’t by the general Australian definition) with some vegetable content, wrapped in a large rice noodle to create two rolls. They were served with a soy sauce. It was flavoursome but nothing to rave about. A medium dish of “fried fish” and green papaya salad was a little puzzling. The fish component was tasty but didn’t contain any visible chunks of fish – more a liquid matter that had been deep fried, to create this crispy, lacy layer underneath the pawpaw. The accompanying dressing was based on fish sauce, citrus and sugar. Strange but compellingly moreish. Lastly a simple dish of sweet potato and eggplant in coconut milk. Both went well with rice.

Cookie has many quirks – the plastic bowls to eat from, the bill presented in a Golden Book and waiters that ran both hot and cold. Overall the food was better than average bar food and a reasonable price – but I’m sure it tasted better eating it out on our private little patio.

Update March 2007: I've eaten at Cookie a number of times in the last 6 months and it grows on me more each time. Most nights the place buzzes and hums and the air traffic controller at the door says "Hm, well we can give you a table but only for an hour because we have a booking". But they can deliver with a subtle speed that doesn't make you feel rushed. Each time I explore a different section of the menu. The drunken prawns are worth a taste. The soft shell crabs with fish broth are great. The rice salad with pear and avocado - very odd, but kind of works. Definitely quirky.

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Blogger Ange said...

I love the food here too but never seem to try much out as I can never go past the lamb & eggplant curry which is divine, and I know many people who have the same dilemna here, try it next time you eat there...

10:15 am  
Blogger naridu said...

I've been looking for somewhere fun and relaxed to dine in the city for an upcoming birthday, this looks like an excellent possibility, thanks for the review on this one :)

9:50 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dish I can't get past is a delicious dessert of a combination you wouldn't normally expect, but, then, that's what Cookie is all about, yes! Warm tapioca and sweetcorn pudding with mango ice cream; interesting combination, absolutely yummy! Then there's a lovely .....

2:04 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, PS: I like your blog and have it in my Google Reader, to share some posts soon (when have time to work on it).

2:07 am  
Blogger Restaurant In Melbourne said...

Restaurant booking online is the good concept. To book the table and order online food on particular date and time.
Lunch Deals Melbourne

10:51 pm  

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