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Winter Express Business Lunch - Little Collins Street Kitchen

Home > Melbourne > Girls' Day Out | Food and Wine | Fine Dining | Escape the City | Restaurants
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
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Catch up for a business lunch, girls' lunch and more
Head Chef Gil Zamudio Little Collins Street Kitchen
Head Chef Gil Zamudio - Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

Not sure what I expected when heading to Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne. Their new winter express business lunch is promoted as a meal where you can impress your boss or client in just under an hour with a two to three-course French-inspired lunch.

I thought perhaps it might be brusque and full of sleek business-suited people and that it would be on the ground floor, so you could rush in and out.

It was none of these things. Instead, I met a doorman so friendly I'll stop to say hello whenever I pass in future and a restaurant tucked upstairs that is definitely one of Melbourne's best-kept and most charming secrets.

I arrived a little early but there was plenty of lounge-style seating where I could have a quiet coffee while I waited for my daughter, who unlike me, was rushing out during her lunch break for this catch-up.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Great area with newspapers to relax, while you wait for your guest.

Once ushered into the restaurant the decor was startling. Sheraton is a 5-star hotel in the French quarter of Little Collins Street just around the corner from the grand Windsor. The decor is all gleaming glass, twinkling lighting and long mirrors and an eye-catching staircase leading up to the 1st floor where the restaurant is located.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Startling staircase. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

But Little Collins Steet Kitchen, as the name implies, is down to earth even homely. There are little pots of fresh rosemary like you might grow in your own kitchen at home. Slatted venetian blinds cover the vast windows and perfectly filter out any glaring light. There are soft billowing curtains that can be drawn to partition off more private dining areas, sleek tables, and wide comfortable chairs with cushions. Or you can opt to sit along the long padded window seats.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Such a reprieve from the city outside. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

It's a Parisian boudoir, a reprieve above the bustling city outside.

The crisp white napkins and sparkling cutlery heralded a very special menu. We had the choice of ordering from the wider menu but opted for the set express menu as a true reflection of what's on offer with the well-priced winter seasonal selection we had come to sample.

This new menu offers you two courses and a drink for only $39.50, which is stunning value for a very special lunch out. For this price, you can choose between a starter/main or main/dessert. Or for $10 extra you can have all three courses!

We began with our included drink. The house wines were Lorimer (De Bortoli) and included white, red and sparkling options, normally $11 a glass. One could also have a Stella or soft options.

Our flutes of Lorimer Sparkling, NV Chardonnay Pinot Noir arrived. and there we were at lunchtime sipping an elegant style of Australian sparkling, which is soft and full on the palate.

Other options included whites such as Lorimer's Semillon-sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, while red drinkers could enjoy a full-bodied cabernet merlot or a Shiraz.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
A great wine list.

Little Collins Street Kitchen is known for its excellent wine list.

The express menu offers the choice between two dishes for each course but so we could sample each dish, we both chose different options and then shared.

Each dish came in well-proportioned sizes. Not overly large but just the right size for a lunch, where you are having at least a couple of courses. In terms of presentation, each dish was a canvas with food beautifully plated in terms of colours and textures.

The first entree option was herb fish goujons with garlic and plated with an artistic sweep of lime aioli.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Herb fish goujons with garlic and lime aioli. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

I had the pan-fried gnocchi, pumpkin purée, feta cheese. I was surprised at the vivid orangey-yellow of the puree and did ask whether a hint of saffron was one of the ingredients.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
No filter. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

As in all good establishments, no question goes unanswered and our waiter went off to ask the chef.

Head Chef Gil Zamudio's arrived at our table to answer the question. The kitchen is an open style so he was readily on hand. We listened in some awe at his explanation of the emulsification process and of the loving care that went into the creation of the heavenly texture involving, butter, cream and a hint of thyme.

His time in Mauritius and his love of French cooking all plays a part in the cuisine he creates.

As for the saffron, forget it. The rich colour comes from the rich orangey- gold of the pumpkin and from careful cooking that retains the vivid colour.

There were two meat dishes for mains but if you are a vegetarian, the risotto dish with its medley of mushrooms can be adjusted so that it is a totally vegetarian option.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Sous-vide beef cheek

The chef had already intimated that the sous-vide beef cheek was rather special. Sous vide is the process of vacuum-sealing food and cooking it in a temperature controlled water bath that ensures perfect consistency. This was a wintery dish with a rich red wine jus, smooth buttery mash and season vegetables with colours bright enough to make you forget the blustery winds outside.

My daughter ordered the confit chicken leg, risotto with mushroom duxelle and pecorino. Mushroom duxelles is a richly flavoured sauteed mushroom dish and a classic of French cuisine, it was scattered with what looked to be lightly fried enoki mushrooms

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Chicken confit chicken leg, risotto with mushroom duxelle and pecorino.

Yes, we had dessert.

My daughter swore she would not share her classic vanilla Creme brulee with lavender shortcrust biscuits but I did manage to sneak a spoonful.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

It was rich and creamy and the shards of the tinkered off as I cracked down with my spoon. Tap, tap, tap, bliss. Is there any more delightful sound when you know what lies beneath? The lavender in the accompanying biscuits made one think of Provence and the areas picturesque rows of lavender.

As for my own dessert, I spent a lot more time staring down at the way it had been created than consuming it. Pastry chef in charge, Shiraz Chawla Malik, obviously knows that we eat with our eyes first.

It was a chocolate, passionfruit, raspberry gel and pistachio Aero and decorated with a little totem pole with a duo of spiralling white and darker chocolate that mirrored the chocolate layers in the creation.

There was a sweep of apricot and raspberry coulis on the plate and these were the exact same colours in the petals and stamen of the flower that adorned this stunning dessert.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Chocolate, passionfruit, raspberry gel and pistachio Aero.

As we had three rather than two courses, this was a fairly leisurely lunch but the service was smart, well-timed but never brusque. My daughter still managed to get back to her work for the afternoon and I went out to chat with the doorman.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Samuel offers a friendly welcome into the Sheraton Melbourne.

It was a stand-up trip on the tram home and the passengers seemed grumpy after long relentless days spent in the office.

If only they had known that just up at the top of Little Collins Street is a reprieve - a sweet spot to seal a deal or just have lunch out with a loved one to break up their day.

Little Collins Street Kitchen at the Sheraton Melbourne
Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt

The Little Collins Street lunch is Available from 25 June to 30 August 2018.

Monday to Friday: 12 pm to 3 pm

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*Nadine Cresswell-Myatt was invited as a guest
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Why? A perfect sanctuary above the rush of the city below where you can dine on fine French-inspired food at an excellent price
When: This winter menu is available until August 30 but lunch here is always a sumptuous feast
Phone: (03) 9290 1056
Where: Little Collins Street Kitchen 1/27 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Cost: Two courses: $39.50 including a glass of wine, beer or soft drink. Add another course for $10.
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