Parched on 97 Chapel Street, Windsor is the exquisite Ayatana Modern Thai Cuisine & Wine Bar, home to deliciously different Thai food. Let me be your guide for the day as I take you on a memorable gastronomic journey to the land of Ayatana.
The modest yet contemporary menu will get your juices flowing by offering some absolutely delicious options. Serious mental debate and extreme indecision are common symptoms to be experienced as you run your eyes over the menu.
You can commence your wonderful feast in any manner. However, if you are feeling arrested with indecision then feel free to adopt the following approach.
The roasted duck fillet, bean shoot, green apple, mint, coriander, carrot and salad wrapped in rice paper roll with homemade sauce makes an excellent choice of entree. As you taste this entree, feel the flavour changing and enhancing as your tongue breaks through the wafer-thin skin of the rice paper roll making delightful discoveries of the juicy duck meat and the magnificent blend of salad dipped in the homemade sauce. Juicy, refreshing and well-balanced in spices this entree makes the perfect start to a fantastic meal.
An intriguing member of the entree menu is the sweet crunchy roasted tamarind rice served with a marvellous blend of homemade sauce and salad. This unique dish is an amazing array of crispy rice with a tasty serve of salad. The lovely aroma will entice your nostrils while the tantalising flavour will regale your tongue with a sweet and sour taste.
The crispy pork belly is indubitably a winner. Served as 4 chunky pieces, this dish is surprisingly good value for money. The pork meat is butter soft while the mildly sticky and salty crackle will make your mouth water for more. Flavoursome and fulsome, this entree is a must-have item on the menu.
Once you have savoured the entrees, you can make the elegant move to the mains. On offer are a multitude of eclectic dishes including steamed barramundi fillet, crispy whole soft shell crab, roasted duck fillets and many others. You can choose to settle with the hot, crispy barramundi fillets. Do not deterred by the word ' hot'. This dish is an interesting mix of salty and spicy ingredients and is far from hot. The fish is crispy and soft and is beautifully served with salad. Some may perceive this dish as a tad too salty.
The whole blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns & calamari definitely deserves a mention. A beauty in its own right, this delectable dish is infused with a wonderful blend of mild spices and is cooked to perfection. The crab is succulent, the prawns are plump while the calamari has a lovely texture.
An extensive section of the menu is dedicated to vegetarian dishes with offerings incorporating stir-fried mixed vegetables, steamed fresh tofu and mushroom, spicy green papaya salad etc. There are also options for gluten-free food. A wide assortment of sides, desserts, tea and coffee completes the diverse menu. Banquet menus are available from $39 per person allowing you to sample a wide array of dishes.
Wash down everything with some lip-smacking, fine wine. Take your pick from the exquisite selections. Ayatana also prides itself in making nice cocktails.
Decor, Service & More
In the sea of restaurants on one of the busiest streets in Melbourne, Ayatana shines like a little yet delightful candle. As you will push open the heavy glass door of this restaurant, be prepared to be awed by the abundance of art. The walls are decked with copious amounts of tasteful and beautiful paintings and portraits.
A large, colourful chandelier hangs from the ceiling while the humble tables have been adorned with small candles, glasses and cutlery. A fully-stocked and well-endowed bar enhances the appearance of the modest counter. Great effort has been put towards bestowing the restaurant with an aesthetic ambience while appealing to the taste of the patrons. The relaxed environment teamed with the soft background music creates the perfect vibe to enjoy a lovely meal with family, friends or the special one.
The staff are very nice, matching the food at the restaurant. On your entrance you will be whisked off to a table and will be handed menus announcing the food menu and the fine wine list. The staff are highly knowledgeable and will offer you expert advice, lovely smiles and will ensure your glass is never left empty.
Ayatana is a remarkable restaurant, created and maintained by friends and family. Recognition of pre-existing culinary skills, a sense of adventure, a desire to fulfil lifelong dreams of owning a food business resulted in a beautiful partnership between some good friends leading to the inauguration of Ayatana in February 2012. Tony (Piyanut), one of the three owners, Sitanan and Chonticha are the other owners, informed me that all the owners work together in harmony to deliver a delightful experience to the patrons of Ayatana.
Showing all his pearly whites, Tony happily shared that his wife, Juthumas, is the talented master chef of Ayatana endowed with the ability of whipping up delicious dishes. Every dish has a personal touch and is created lovingly to tailor to the needs of the patrons. Tony was reluctant to give out their home-made recipes but expressed that all ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. Every dish is cooked upon receiving orders and comes with guaranteed freshness. He observed that Ayatana allows BYO but charges $8 for corkage. Tony advised that menus are changed every 4 to 6 months to inject new excitement into the vibrant menu.
By virtue of its prime location, Ayatana is highly accessible both by car and public transport. Finding a park is not much of a challenge while the Windsor train station is only minutes away. And takeaway is only one phone call away.
Ayatana offers delicious, reasonably priced food which despite being quite unorthodox manages to hit all the right spots. Every dish is unique and is aimed to woo and inspire. Take a trip to this restaurant to revel in the beautiful ambiance and sample delicious food before you leave with a satisfied heart, a full tummy and a content smile.