A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published June 15th 2016
Happy 10th birthday to the Dandenong Pavilion
A consistent family favourite, the Dandenong Pavilion, is celebrating its tenth year of operation. Given the rather transient nature of dining venues in Melbourne, the Dandenong Pavilion must be doing something right to continue to thrive.
Not resting on its laurels, the Pavilion has recently taken on a new Head Chef, Joe Hlusko (who has recently returned from a stint at Palm Atlantis, Dubai, and is formerly of Circa, Stokehouse and No. 8 by John Lawson), a menu revamp and a venue refurbishment. The driver behind the Pavilion's success is Dani Zeini, who has since launched other successful venues including Royal Stacks and Grand Trailer Park Taverna businesses in Melbourne.
My partner Dave and I decided to pay a visit to the Pavilion and check it out.
Visiting on a Tuesday night, it was busy and bustling and there was a buzz and energy across the venue that felt warm and inviting. It's a large venue, and there are four separate areas: a main dining room, a side area for private functions of about 20-30 people, a lounge and bar area, and an outside area. The decor is modern and funky.
The Pavilion specialises in burgers, and was in fact awarded the top spot on the list of 'Melbourne's Top 10 New Burgers' by The Age Epicure 2014. Some of the burger options sound enticing, such as the Colonel fried chicken burger, the Tsar beef burger with black Russian tomato, and the Jiro with Swiss cheese and truffle mayonnaise (all $21.90).
However, we decided against burgers, opting instead to share the assorted dips ($17.50) as an entree. Listed as a 'to share' platter, it was a generous serving, with two dips - basil pesto dip and humus - both delicious, and served with a stack of warm toasted pita bread.
The dips platter - generous with the bread
Other entree options include saganaki ($13.50) and sizzling garlic prawns ($16).
For main course, we selected the Thai Green Curry, served with rice and pita bread ($27.90), and the fish from the specials menu - grilled rockling resting on a bed of white bean puree served with a cucumber, dried apricot and sunflower seed salad, mixed with grated cheese and a red wine vinaigrette ($29.50). Overall we enjoyed our meals. The fish was perfectly cooked, the skin beautifully crispy, and the Thai Green Curry had just the right level of heat (Dave had asked for it to be extra spicy to suit his palate).
Fish of the day - beautifully cooked rockling
To be a little critical, the bean puree base under the fish, which had a subtle nutty flavour and complemented the fish nicely, was almost cold when served, as though it had been served on a cold plate and left for a while before the fish was added. While I like dried apricots, I'm not sure they quite worked in the salad. I think I'd have preferred it without. Finally, pita bread and Thai Green Curry seemed like strange bedfellows! We felt the pita was not necessary on the dish. Otherwise, they were great dishes and the prices seemed about right.
Thai Green Curry - the pita bread seemed a bit out of place
For the desserts, we were fortunate enough to have three desserts to try: the chocolate pudding (chef's own pudding served warm with chocolate sauce & vanilla ice-cream) ($13.50), the Return of the Mack - a monster creation designed to serve two to four diners, comprising house baked chocolate brownie pieces mixed with premium vanilla ice-cream, topped with whipped cream & hot chocolate fudge ($19.50), and a daily special, the Goldilocks (the chef's take on a childhood classic, the Golden Gaytime) ($14.50). The pick for me was the chocolate pudding. It was beautifully rich and moist, with a superb chocolate flavour.
Desserts - from left to right: Goldilocks, chocolate pudding and the Return of the Mack
While we didn't try the cocktails, there is an impressive and interesting list, including the Apple and Cinnamon Martini - cloudy apple, bison grass vodka and vanilla with a hint of cinnamon ($15), as well as cocktail jugs (from $30 to suit 2 people), beers on tap and a reasonable wine list. You can view the full drinks list here.
Finally, I can report that the service was excellent. Kudos to our waitress Bella who was both extremely efficient and had a pleasant manner.
The Dandenong Pavilion is located at 55-61 Princes Highway, Dandenong. It's open seven days, from 11.30am to 10.30pm (kitchen closes at 9.30pm). To make a reservation, call (03) 9793 2133, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other than the first image (dining room) the images in this article were taken by the writer. The images are not to be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Weekend Notes.