One of my good friends from high school has just had a baby – the first in our friendship group which means that naturally, the baby has half a dozen built-in babysitters and doting aunts! Conveniently, my friend obligingly gave birth just two weeks before I returned to Melbourne for a visit, which meant that I could give baby Esme a cuddle on my return.
My friend was ready to venture out for a dinner engagement with the baby, however we wanted to make sure that we had a quiet environment, the best possible for a newborn! I chose Angliss Restaurant, a fine dining training restaurant for hospitality and cookery students from the William Angliss Institute. I’ve dined there before with a positive experience, and had even held an event there in a previous life as an events coordinator.
The restaurant is small, with only a dozen tables but twenty-odd young trainee waiters and bartenders on the floor, each nervously nudging each other before gathering up the courage to approach our table with the menu, water, drinks, and more! They were very obliging and did all they could to ensure that our group of seven and a baby were comfortable.
We started with entrees. My fellow diners opted for the crispy salt and chilli squid, by far the most tempting dish on the menu. I tried a bite of the squid, and found it lovely and crispy with amazing flavours and a real bite. Delicious.
I opted for the duck risotto entree, just to be a bit different but soon regretted my decision – the squid was definitely the dish of choice! While the duck confit was quite tasty with super tender meat, the risotto was very plain. I would suggest that the duck and risotto would be best cooked together for optimal flavours, but then I guess that the presentation wouldn’t have been as nice as it was.
For mains, I ordered the harpuka fillet. The fillet was a little bit overdone and over-grilled – quite disappointing. The vegetable fricassee was very well fried, lightly coated with butter and worked really well with the horseradish puree. The vanilla air was more of a foam, and didn’t seem to go with the other elements on the dish that well. I get the feeling that the cookery students simply wanted to add a ‘special’ element to the dish.
My friend ordered the braised veal shank – beautifully presented upright. The glazing on the veal looked simply amazing, and by all reports, was delicious!
Other diners opted for the roasted chicken breast – reportedly very hearty and reminiscent of a Sunday roast at Grandma’s.
Onto dessert, and the one crazy individual amongst us who doesn’t enjoy chocolate or hazelnut ordered a superbly presented dessert. The pineapple, liquorice and coconut flavours sound strange together, but combined apparently worked really well!
Other diners opted for the baked chocolate tart – soft, moist and beautifully plated with caramelised raspberry sugar.
My choice of the hazelnut praline parfait was inspired. The caramelised banana with the soft hazelnut ice-cream was a soft flavour in the mouth. It wasn’t the type of bold dessert that packs a flavour punch, but it is the type of subtle dessert that just leaves you wanting to eat more and more!
For only $35, a three-course dinner at Angliss Restaurant is a great deal by any standard! I definitely recommend a visit – remember, these students at William Angliss Restaurant are the chefs and waiters of the future, and you might see them in the dining room of the next restaurant you eat at. Supporting our students is the best thing we can do as consumers.
There were hurdles along the way – memorably, the lights went out at one point during service and it was amusing seeing the students panic about what to do, and there were a few mixed up orders along the way as well. Nothing that the supervisor on duty couldn’t fix, and it all ended up being another talking point anyway. I do commend the students for doing their best to adapt to all challenges thrown at them, including a large table of cooing females with a two week old baby!
Overall, I rate Angliss Restaurant a 7.5 out of 10. As long as you keep in mind that there will be some hiccups along the way as per any other training restaurant, it’s a really enjoyable and budget-friendly experience.