Recently for a friend's surprise birthday dinner, we ventured out to Elwood to check out Geoff Lindsay's (of Pearl) take on Vietnamese cuisine. My parents lived in Ho Chi Minh City before relocating to Melbourne so I was fortunate enough to experience a mixture of both Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines whilst growing up. Having visited Vietnam last year for a short trip, I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed myself and how amazing the food was, not to mention ridiculously cheap - 10 cent Vietnamese iced coffees or 50 cent bowls of delicious, msg-free pho anyone? I'm not the biggest believer in Asian fusion cuisine but sometimes it does work, so I came here with no expectations, secretly hoping to be surprised. Dandelion is located in the leafy Elwood suburb in a very modern looking space with hints of an Asian theme. The small sauce bottles and the kumquats were a nice touch on the tables.
The tiger prawns were cooked well inside however crunchy exterior of green rice was tasteless so without dipping it into the nuoc cham, it was bland and boring.
We followed this up with rice paper rolls which when I saw the price I almost had a heart attack. I'm so used to having these for dinner on a weekly basis that I can't justify paying $16 upwards for a single roll - no matter what type of fancy ingredients it comprises of. We weren't a big fan of the salmon rolls and the granny smith apple was a strange addition.
The soft shell crab rice paper rolls were nice and crunchy although Mrs T's magical sauce was nothing out of the ordinary.
The elements were fresh and the deep fried lotus root was crispy but overall, it was quite boring. Taste-wise I didn't think much of this salad and left it for the others.
Considering that my friend had chosen this restaurant specifically for the BBQ pork spare ribs which had been nominated by The Age Good Food Guide 2012 as the dish of the year, we ordered two serves. We had blindly trusted that dish of the year would live up to its name. The ribs were tender and fell off the bone but where was the flavour? No hint of charred goodness, no sticky barbecue flavours - the dish underwhelmed us as did the salad of lychee and mint which seemed out of place. In the end, a plate of ribs were left over which we forced onto the guys to finish.
Will I return? No, I wasn't impressed and prices were steep.
133 Ormond Road
Elwood VIC 3184
(03) 9531 4900