Sunday, December 22, 2013

Operator 25, Melbourne CBD

A few months ago, I got an email form the owners of Operator 25 asking if I wanted to come by and try their brunch menu sometime. I do enjoy getting invites like these because they always give me an opportunity to really chat with the owners or visionaries behind these establishments. Always a joy to hear their stories. It was quite generous of them to let me take 3 other friends to dine for free. Together with my good friends Kel, Sarah and Devon, the 4 of us stopped by Operator 25 one pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Located at a nice, quiet street in the CBD... Like

When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the partners, Val, who showed us to the table they had reserved for us. The fitout was pleasant. Obviously newly renovated but still had its charm.

I enjoyed the coffee we had and felt like we were off to a good start.

I like seeing nice flower arrangements at cafe tables...

Baked Eggs with Great Northern Beans, Chorizito, Goats Curd and House- made Corn Bread - $18.00

House Benedict with Cold Smoked Salmon, Potato Rosti, Poached Eggs and Chives Hollandaise - $18.00

Heirloom Tomatoes, Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi, Black Olive Tapenade, Goats Curd and Parmesan Crisps - $16.00

House Suckling Pig Burger - $ 19.50
with Savoy Cabbage, Balinese Marinated Pork, Chilli Mayo, Coriander on Brioche Bun with Sweet Potato Fries and Pork Crackling

As soon as I saw the menu, I knew immediately that we HAD to order the Balinese suckling pig burger. Everything sounded good but this dish really jumped out of the page. It was the only item in the menu with an oriental twist. One of the owner who was chatting with us explained that this was because one of the chefs was from Bali and wanted to share a dish inspired by his hometown. I like this personal connection that the chef had with this dish, which he wanted to share with the rest of us.

Pork crackling...!! Such a cheeky addition

I think every successful restaurant needs to have at least a signature dish and I believe this Balinese pulled pork burger is it. The burger was seriously delicious. Every mouthful was a delight with strong Indonesian flavours, which we enjoyed. The sweet potato fries on the side was perfectly crunchy and sweet. So good especially when dipped in that aioli. Plus, I found the tiny piece of pork crackling that they placed on the plate to be so cheeky and fun. 

The only other comment I will make was that I kind of preferred for the bun to be grilled or toasted slightly. The reason was because the pulled pork was soft, blanched lettuce was soft and was overall quite a soft burger to eat. Having that crunch from a toasted bun would've added a completely different element to the dish, which I believe would've complemented the other ingredients well. But hey, that's just my personal preference.

Coconut and Tonka Bean Sago, Mango Curd, Mango Cubes and Pistachio Crumbs - $9.00

That aside, the other dishes were tasty too. Baked eggs had a number of dimension of flavours, which worked well together and was great to have with the corn bread. The pan fried gnocchi with tapenade reminded me of a similar dish I made a few months ago. Very fresh and colourful. Good vegetarian dish. We enjoyed the house benedict but did find the hollandaise to be rather salty that day. The dessert had all our favourite things in one (mango, coconut milk, sago) and was just a great finish to our meal.

To sum up, my friends and I definitely enjoyed our meal at Operator 25. Even though, there were some minor items that I felt could've been improved, it was still a delicious meal overall. Melbourne has been notorious for not having enough brunch places in the CBD so I'm very glad to see Operator 25 fill that hole in the market. Good menu, food and location. Personally, I actually enjoyed the food here a lot more than The Grain Store (which I found to be a little too complex for my liking). The team at Operator 25 are doing a great job and I hope they keep up the good work. Definitely look forward to coming back again soon.

Disclaimer: Winston and friends dined as guests at Operator 25. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.

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