Monday, March 1, 2010

Bright Young Things - Full Moon Dinner

The thought of reviewing this was somewhat daunting. Bright Young Things are Culinary Event Makers and once a month they host a Full Moon Dinner. For $75 a head you get three courses, canapes, and a whole lot of wine.

My friend Marney and I went in Jan, very excited. Warned we were vegetarian and vegan, they promised us it wouldn't be a problem. Well, it didn't really work out that way on the night, and for $75 I felt sorely ripped off and tried to drink my way through the $75 instead. Anyway, I emailed the director the next day as I wasn't brave enough to complain on the night and she was more than understanding and offered to make amends inviting us to the Feb dinner, complimentary of course.

We went on Wednesday and, having been given an opportunity to impress, this is the evening I will review.

It all started out beautifully, with delicious lychee martinis and bubbles, and our very own vegan canapes. Having 4 canapes specially made for us impressed me - they other canapes around the room were different to ours. Having been left out of the canapes last time, I appreciated she took this on board. And they looked and tasted beautiful.

Seating was vastly improved this time, right in the midst of it near the singer (Gosling?), and service was impeccable. Little speeches were made by one of the Bright Young Things to let us know tonight we were celebrating garlic. I don't know, but is this normal? Celebrating a humble vegetable when usually it's meat? Either way, I liked it.

Our table had a beautiful handwritten menu of our vegan fare for the evening, which also made me smile - we received the meat menu last time as there was no menu for us. It sounded perfect.

To start we got a shared plate of pimentos fried with salt and sherry vinegar. These were great! And with one in ten being hot, hot, hot it made for a fun Russian Roulette start to the night. Things were going swimmingly. Our next course was shared tastes - heirloom tomato salad which was, you know, nice enough but I felt I could have made it. For a beautiful heirloom tomato salad which beats all other entrees check out Delizia Cucina in Seddon. The cauliflower, pea, broadbean salad was ok, but was really just what I described it as, some vegetables with no special treatment to make them shine. The chickpea and silverbeet dish was beautiful and rich, reminiscent of an India saag and won the shared plates selection hands down.

The main event was interesting. I LOVE that they got so creative and served us something I have never had or encountered before - a mushroom and vine leaves pie. Ok, so the menu description is significantly classier than that sounds, but that is essentially what it was, sans pastry. A selection of different mushrooms with crispy vine leaves in a rich sauce in a little pot. Really tasty, but sadly just a bit too strong to be able to eat a lot of. Apparently there was cavalo nero, pine nuts and pearl barley in there too, I couldn't tell and the lighting was certainly too ambient to be able to see much. I only got about a third of the way through.

This came with a side of quinoa, farro and burghal wheat salad. I eat a fair bit of quinoa and I really couldn't find any in this dish. I decided it was couscous. I might be wrong. It was tasty enough. The fennel and orange salad with tatsoi, hazelnuts and radicchio sounds more amazing than it tasted. I don't know why. Somehow the flavours fell flat.

Dessert was where things got strange. Marney got the standard dessert of Gorgonzola Cheesecake with figs and candied walnuts. She thought that sounded great, I thought it sounded like dirty socks and it turns out it tasted the same. A quick glance around the room proved case in point. No one came close to finishing their dessert. Who cares, mine was great! After my previous experience of a bowl of tomatoes and strawberries, this dessert was a beautiful blood orange and campari sorbet with berries. Marney ditched hers and helped me tuck in. As did the table of boys next to us.

I don't understand it but at the end I felt strangely underwhelmed. The service was warm and attentive, there was way more food than we could even attempt to eat, the menu read beautifully, they were enthusiastically creative and surprised me with the impressive mushroom vine leaf 'pie'. And most of all they did everything they could to make sure we were happy. But overall I just don't know that their flavours worked all that well. I like to go out and eat meals where I just can't work out how they get it so great. In this case, the average cook that I am, I actually think I could replicate some of these.

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't bad. And it was WAY better than the first time. But for $75 I guess I hope to be a little more wowed. I'm not ruling them out though, they have already improved since last time and they have only just started really paying attention to vegan meals so there is potential there.

Bright Young Things
29 Niagara Lane, Melbourne CBD


  1. wow I've never paid that much for a meal. Do they drive you home afterwards?

  2. Hi, I've updated you on the Australian Food Blogs webpage

  3. Yeah, pricey huh? Which is why I just couldn't be all that impressed with what I got.

    Anna, thanks!