A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published June 14th 2022
A Japanese jewel
Tucked down Clifton Street, just minutes from the bustling Chapel Street precinct, you'll find Grand Lafayette, the sister venue to Cafe Lafayette located in Niagara Lane, Melbourne.
Grand Lafayette - a warm and welcome haven
While it is promoted as offering "an authentic taste of Japanese cuisine", Grand Lafayette is about as far away in character from a back alley Tokyo noodle bar as you could imagine. Instead, it's spacious, stylish and modern, offering a warm and welcome haven on a rainy Sunday night.
Interior of Grand Lafayette, spacious and stylish. The space shown here is just one section of the venue, which extends beyond the wine shelves you can see to the right of the image.
Grand Lafayette's menu is extensive, offering dishes across a range of categories including "raw", "sushi", "bite" and "bao". Finding it difficult to choose from so many delicious options, we asked our waiter to suggest some diner favourites. We settled on sashimi carpaccio, baked scallops, pan-fried pork gyoza, and broccolini tempura. All dishes arrived in super-fast time, and when Grand Lafayette promotes its food as being 'picture-perfect', it's easy to see why.
A lot of thought and care had gone into the design and preparation of each dish. Each was appealing before we took a bite.
We started with the sashimi carpaccio ($29.50). The dish presented like an appealing plate of fish jewels. It featured ora king salmon, tuna tatami, kingfish, and scallop. The fish was tender and succulent and melted in the mouth. The delicate layering of the scallop slices with cucumber was artful.
Sashimi carpaccio - jewels of fish on a plate
The gyoza ($17.50 for five pieces) were delicious - succulent and flavourful. The menu mentions 'black wine glaze, maple ponzu and scallion', and there was a surprising level of complexity in these potstickers.
Gyoza - succulent and flavourful
Moving on to the baked scallops, served with pickle, salt flake, and chilli garlic sauce ($26.50 for four pieces). We voted this the dish of the night. It was so beautifully balanced, with a subtle yet pungent hit of chilli. The tempura broccolini ($17.50) was perfectly cooked too, the delicious batter light and crispy, and beautifully complementing the vegetable. There are other vegetable and seafood tempura options that I'd love to try on a return visit.
Baked scallops - dish of the night
Grand Lafayette offers a range of desserts also, including banana fritters and Japanese ice creams (matcha, black sesame or vanilla). Their signature dessert is a 'rainbow cake', which is available in four different ways. It is essentially a hemisphere of clear jelly, served with a flavoured sauce and crumb. We tried the Tiffany Blue (peppermint flavoured) ($9). The flavours were subtle, the textures interesting. It was a clever and creative dish that was a great way to round out the meal.
There was so much more to try out on their extensive menu that it would take multiple visits to do the venue justice. I haven't even touched on the bao and don dishes on offer. You can view the full menu here. To make it easier to understand the menu, the second page has some explanatory notes.
Grand Lafayette is licensed, offering BYO for wine only. There is an extensive range of sakes, beers, wines and cocktails. As it was a cold night, we chose a sake served warm. On our waiter's recommendation, we opted for the Tanrei Junmai sake ($16 for 180ml).
Tanrei Jumai sake - works well served warm
Grand Lafayette is a classy restaurant offering beautifully prepared and presented food, and attentive service. If you want to experience high quality Japanese food in Melbourne, this is the place to come!