13 Ballarat St Yarraville, VIC 3013(03) 9362 7222
|Opening hours||Tues-Fri, 6pm-late; Sat, 5pm-late; Sun, noon-3pm, 5pm-late|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||Diner's Club, eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
The Bank's honest food, decent prices and attractive heritage dining room are a spirited illustration of how the west is winning. The menu is an easy read, the food is contemporary, but not too tricky, and there's a focus on top produce at reasonable prices.
A spring-lamb dish is a fine example of what the restaurant does well: lovely meat, well cooked and attractively presented. A two-point rack perches beside a brick of slow-cooked shoulder. Caponata salsa with pine nuts and capers steers the dish down a continental path, then thick mint sauce diverts it into Sunday-roast territory. Dabs of translucent sweet onion puree add another piquant dimension and are perhaps the clearest indication that chef James Kummrow spent time cooking at Dunkeld's three-hat Royal Mail Hotel.
The chicken and chips are a crowd-pleaser given a makeover: chicken leg is boned and rolled, served with pommes frites, watercress and puffed grains. Barramundi from Cone Bay near Broome is excellent. This sustainably sea-farmed fish is firm, moist and clean, and the kitchen does it justice with straightforward, confident preparation that lets it shine. Pan-fried then gently baked, the fillet comes with mash and a witlof and pear salad.
Some dishes are very laid-back, such as the tagliatelle with zucchini, torn burrata, prosciutto and mint. I could imagine Yarraville locals popping in after work for this house-made pasta and arriving home 30 minutes later feeling happy and ahead of the game.
The dessert list isn't overly inspiring, and the chocolate brownie was an unremitting slab, lacking the gooey bits that turn great brownies into sweet, swooning memories.
The wine list nicely balances interest and accessibility, with beauties by the carafe at keen prices. Better glassware would improve the experience.
I could imagine Yarraville locals popping in after work for this house-made pasta and arriving home 30 minutes later feeling happy and ahead of the game.
The service is willing and friendly, but not intuitive or polished. I will live if my water glass dips below brimming, but I would like a fork with which to eat, please. And it's a shame to discover there are specials right about the time the bill arrives.
Nevertheless, it's possible to sense the enthusiasm and optimism underpinning the business. This keen ethic has prompted big plans: a wall will come down to turn the deck into an inviting al-fresco room, seasonal dinners will feature up-and-coming chefs, and there are plans to run the first floor as a fine-dining parlour and gallery.
Bacash, 175 Domain Road, South Yarra, 98663566.
Mon-Fri, lunch; Mon-Sat, dinner.
As he's done for decades, Michael Bacash deals in impeccable seafood, simply cooked and served without pretension.
Templestowe Living Room, 19 Anderson Street, Templestowe, 98466158.
Sat-Sun, breakfast; daily, lunch and dinner.
An all-afternoon snack menu segues into a low-stress dinner menu of dips, oysters, salmon salad, pumpkin risotto and grilled pork. Heaps of gluten-free options.
Malvern Hotel, cnr Glenferrie and Malvern roads, Toorak, 98223582.
Daily, lunch and dinner.
The chargrilled steak menu is a focus at this congenial old pub. The rest of the menu is a mix of old faves (chicken parma, fish and chips) and more adventurous dishes, such as seared roo and duck liver parfait with walnut bread.