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
There was soft lighting, a fireplace, fresh flowers, starched white tablecloths, sparkling glasses shimmering in the candlelight and the type of cutlery that feels so beautifully weighted in your hand you feel like slipping it in your handbag so you can use it for ever.
One of the most unusual things about the Terminus is the cuisine. Pierre Khodja was born in Algeria, grew up in the south of France and then studied to be a chef in Paris.
So the food is exquisitely French but is also accompanied by interesting twists such as North African baked delights, flavours and spices.
While this is an upmarket restaurant, the kind where the waiter asks you, as he flicks the linen napkin on your knee, whether you would prefer "sparkling or tap water" -- it is not an overpriced restaurant.
Two courses, which is more than sufficient, costs $69 and three courses is $89. As a pub steak and an entrée sets you back $50 or so at least these days it doesn't seem much more to pay for fine surroundings, fine service and superlative inducing food.
Terminus also provides all these unexpected and complimentary extras which are like little treasure box -- akin to birthday presents as they came so beautifully presented.
Instead of waiting ravenously for our meal we were served anise bread rolls with local olive oil and something I will crave ever after. There was a side of black butter, which looked like tar but was coloured with a black olive tapenade. I'm not even an olive fan but this was so amazing buttery and delightful on the crusty bread it will be remembered long after in the pleasure centre of my epicurean mind.
Then again, unbidden came a complimentary broad bean soup, served delicately in a small glass with a tiny borek standing sentry next to it. You can see a Youtube clip below of the final touches on this soup to see the care that goes into the presentation.
We opted for a main and dessert so had to forgo entrée indulgences such as roasted pigeon, crab bastilla, artichoke salad, west australian king prawns with cinnamon gnocchi and salted cod scallops to name a few.
We also both ordered the same main as it sounded wonderful. It was lamb roasted three ways, with cinnamon and chermoula. I had heard the expression of meat being "melt in your mouth" but this was the first time I had actually experienced such.
We had ordered sides. One was a bowl of sweet potato, butternut pumpkin, prunes and ras el hanout and the other (thinking we would need some greens) was spiced brussels sprouts with chestnut and shanklish (a sheep milk's cheese.)
But given the lamb came with a spinach filled Middle-Eastern pastry we could probably have foregone the brussels sprouts - even though they were delicious.
Other mains, on the menu, included baked hapuka onion and cinnamon oxtail borek, wagyu brisket with Jerusalem artichokes prunes and pea puree, roasted duck with lentils , pearl barley chestnuts orange and cardamom and baked snapper with a smoked pepper crust, chorizo,pearl couscous, preserved lemon and chermoula. There was also a vegetarian couscous and raisin chutney.
My daughter was dying to try the Turkish delight souffle which was worth the 20 minute wait while it fluffed up in the oven. It was a dainty pink colour from the rosewater and bejewelled with with globs of semi-melted Turkish delight. It was served with halva ice cream and blossom-scented creme anglais. I had Moroccan doughnuts which were tiny balls of bliss served with a dried apricot and prune compote. Again it was the superb attention to presentation that added so much to the experience. My dish was encircled with tiny piped flowers.
This is a great place to eat out for a special occasion. My daughter and I had bunkered down all week on different writing projects so it was great to come out in style after all that hard work. But it would certainly be the place for a very special birthday or anniversary meal. And that carpet looked pretty soft if someone felt like going down on bended knees and popping the question to their beloved.