18/20

The Flower Drum

17 Market Lane, Melbourne, VIC

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Complete package: the Flower Drum is an institution.
Complete package: the Flower Drum is an institution. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Flower Drum is a complete package: the service is intuitive and expert, the food is outstanding and the unapologetically classical dining room is thick with a sense of occasion. Revel in perfect renditions of Cantonese classics such as duck wontons, their sheer, silky pastry glistening in a rich duck reduction, or fall-apart honey-braised pork ribs that come with two essential accompaniments – rice and a finger bowl. Native produce shines in dishes such as stir-fried pearl meat and a luscious, complex wallaby tail soup with wolfberries and yam. There’s theatre in the at-table filleting and portioning, the swift adjustment of chopsticks for left-handers, and the extravagant carved fruit platters. In 2015, this venerable Melbourne institution will turn 40 but more significant than its longevity is Flower Drum’s ongoing sense of purpose. Restaurants come, and some of them go, but none plays exactly the same role as this one.

Drinks Heavy-hitting wine list dripping with prestige with plenty of relatively affordable bottles, too

And … Despite the restaurant’s celebrity, last-minute tables are often available, and it’s possible not to spend excessively.

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17 Market Lane, Melbourne, VIC

  • Cuisine - Chinese
  • Prices - E $18 M $30 D $17
  • Features - Private dining
  • Chef(s) - Anthony Lui
  • Owners - Anthony Lui, Patricia Fung & William Shek
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
  • Opening Hours - Mon–Sat noon–3pm, 6–10.30pm; Sun 6–10pm
  • Seats - 120
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