Bang Bang on Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick

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By Mantis Kane

Bang Bang’s PR campaign was the usual firework display of grand claims and culinary puffery. Alongside heavy hitters Hannoh Hannah and Goat House, Elsternwick’s Bang Bang promised to solidify the district as one of Melbourne’s fledgling foodie hubs.

Repurposing the old Rifle Club and naming the restaurant Bang Bang might be toeing the line of acceptability if it were to be situated in a more trigger happy part of the world. Gladly gun crime in Elsternwick is well under control, hardly an issue in fact, the association more ironic than foreboding, and the quirky setting only adds to the appeal.

Then came the reviews. The box of fireworks seemed to be damp, the crescendo of noise coming from the kitchen was more a spluttered bowel movement than a royal fanfare.

Not that people have been deterred. It was packed when we visited. Even the downpour that rendered the outside tables unusable didn’t discourage the masses. Whether its storm of average reviews has settled or whether it is still reaping the benefits of the Inquisition Period, when locals pay obligatory visits to a new venue in the neighbourhood, remains to be seen.

Decoratively it’s decked out tastefully. Multi-levelled, with vast outside areas and a cocktail bar. The tropical wallpaper and exposed brick gives a hipster meets Great Gatsby feel, modern sophistication cleverly traversing the lines of now and then.

Considering how busy it was, and the kerfuffle of reseating the outdoor rain-sodden tables, the young staff seemed self assured and comfortable. Either well trained or well medicated. Requesting to change our table three times didn’t test our waitress’s patience – she was perfectly polite and personable.

The food was better than anticipated. Indochine is the style – which requires some research to pin point, but let’s say Asian fusion for arguments sake. Seven courses all rolled out of the kitchen a little too efficiently, but there were some genuine gems.

The Soft Shell Crab Jungle Curry was an intimidating messy mass of legs, Thai vegetables and tarry curry sludge. It was unapologetically hot, and quite bitter, not diffused with heaps of palm sugar. Which is commendable. The hotness growing minute by minute, the jungle curry assumed the palette would be sweetened by another dish, rather than an all-in-one fix, which is the temptation. A brave move, not for the faint hearted.

Another notable inclusion was the Sashimi of King Fish, which seems to be seeing a resurgence on menus (last month Barkly St’s Spring and Summer put in a credible Thai infused version). Bang Bang offer a more traditional Japanese plate, with caramelised cashew and trout roe.

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