A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published February 9th 2017
Excuse me if I bang on about how GOOD this food is
There's a new restaurant in Elsternwick that has kicked off with a bang - Bang Bang at the Rifle Club, located at 294 Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick.
Bang Bang Restaurant has opened in what was formerly the Caulfield Rifle Club
Not being a local to the area, the first thing I wanted to know is - why the name? The building housing Bang Bang was formerly the historic Caulfield City Rifle Club. The redevelopment of the site, apparently costing around $2M, has transformed the building into an appealing restaurant space, featuring a long bar at the front, and an open, light, airy space at the back, including an outdoor eating area.
There is a long bar at the front of the building
Conveniently located just a short walk from Elsternwick train station, Bang Bang has another great attribute - it is open from 6am until late, seven days.
Having opened just last month, Bang Bang felt it was now time to let the general public know just how good it is. I was invited to the official launch, which took place earlier this week.
Promoting itself as offering 'French Indochine' cuisine, a quick scan of the 'night menu' shows a diversity of dishes with a strong Asian influence, categorised into 'snacks', 'small shares' and 'large shares'. (Note there are also a weekday menu (applies 8am - 3pm Monday to Friday), a weekend menu (8am - 3pm on weekends) and a snack menu (3pm until late). The dishes I tasted were from the night menu, and therefore I will confine my comments to that - but I encourage you to explore the other menus at your leisure.
We were greeted with one of the three spritz drinks on the drinks menu - a Vermouth Spritz (Dolin Dry Vermouth, orange and holy basil, soda) ($9), a perfect thirst quencher for a warm day.
Foodwise, we started with two pretty looking dishes from the 'snacks' section of the menu - the Betel leaf confit duck and the Betel leaf pomelo with cashew nut and chilli (each $6). Both were delicate on the plate, but the duck, in particular, packed a flavour punch. It was declared 'a dish I'd come back for' by my partner Dave. The pomelo was more subtle, the citrus fruit paired with the Betel leaf creating a clean, refreshing taste.
Three dishes from the 'snacks' menu - from left to right: Betel leaf pomelo, chargrilled king prawns and Betel leaf confit duck
Also on the table were plates of enormous chargrilled prawns, served with roasted shallot and lime ($7.50 each). I'm not a big fan of prawns so left them to others to try, but I can report that the plates were picked clean, and there was approval around the table.
Moving to the 'small share' dishes, we tried four dishes: tofu, avocado and sesame seed with mint, black vinegar and ginger ($15.50); sashimi of kingfish with caramelised cashew and trout roe ($18); crispy chicken ribs with house spice and Bang Bang sriracha ($15); and chargrilled pork neck with iceberg lettuce and red pepper jaew (Thai dried chilli dipping sauce) ($45 - it's actually in the 'large shares' section of the menu). It was hard to pick a winner from these dishes. It would probably be the pork neck, which I loved wrapping up in the lettuce with the fresh herbs and sauce, a little like a Vietnamese spring roll. The meat was beautifully tender - cooked to perfection.
From left to right: King fish sashimi, crispy chicken ribs, chargrilled pork neck
On the other hand, the chicken ribs had a few of us making (positive) comparisons with the product of a certain large chicken fast food chain - though Bang Bang's version was of course far superior. There was that familiar crunch, but also a refined spiciness and no oiliness. It was a top dish.
For the large share dishes, we tasted the roasted pumpkin (with kipfler potato, cinnamon and anise curry) ($35) and the chargrilled Cape Grim short rib with wild ginger and holy basil broth ($55). While some may baulk at the price tag on the beef, I should point out that it is a LARGE portion. If you ordered these two dishes, with some steamed rice ($3 pp) and an iceberg lettuce salad ($6), it would comfortably feed four people with reasonable appetites. That would work out at $27 per person, which, given the quality of the food is most reasonable.
Large share dishes: chargrilled short rib (left) and pumpkin curry
These two dishes were a knockout. The short rib was pull apart tender and the flavours were well balanced to complement the meat without overwhelming it. My mouth is watering as I recall the rich and complex flavours in the pumpkin curry. I wish I could make a curry as flavoursome as that.
After this extraordinary feast, you might think there was no way we had room for dessert. We didn't think we did, either, until we were presented with the pretty-as-a-picture black sticky rice pudding, with pandas sweet cream, mango and sorbet. I have to admit to being a soft touch when it comes to black sticky rice anything, really, but wow! this dish was a delight. The combination of textures and flavours was perfect.
Black sticky rice pudding - perfection on a plate!
Bang Bang also has an extensive drinks list, so whether you're just after a quick cocktail or glass of wine, or you want to impress someone with a classy wine (such as the Thomas Bouley Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir 2013 from Burgundy- $110), there will be something on the drinks list to satisfy your needs. They also sell carafes of wine - an affordable option if you just want a couple of glasses with your meal.
There are so many dishes on Bang Bang's menu I want to try that I'm sure we'll be back soon. Definitely put Bang Bang on your 'must visit' list.
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