The suburb of Balaclava in Melbourne's south east may not be the best known or most desirable culinary destination in such a great gastronomic city as mighty Melbourne, but this place is an absolute treat, and well worth discovering for diners south of the Yarra. Venturing there from Northcote was a reasonable hike, but Punt Road was uncharacteristically reasonable on this Sunday evening, and the experience was well worth the trip.
An extremely happy and friendly greeting always makes you feel welcome, and this was even before the waiter knew we were there to review the place! And things went beautifully from there.
The décor is quite modern and funky, and the accommodations very comfortable.
Modern and funky is indeed the general vibe of this place. It has an extensive and well stocked bar, and a turntable set-up, so it's obviously a place to go for a drink and listen to some cool grooves with friends as well. However, being dinner time, the music was never too loud or doofy and annoying. It's obviously aimed at a younger, cooler crowd, especially with Chapel Street just around the corner, but it definitely stops short of being 'too cool for school'.
And this night happened to be the night of the Rugby World Cup semi final, and even though this writer is far more of an Australian Football fan, it was good to keep track of the score with sound turned down. Unfortunately on this night the Aussies were smashed by the Kiwis, but that's a different story.
The house red came out very quickly, and was a little fuller and more flavoursome than some of the average house reds you have on occasion, and it ultimately complemented the meal very nicely indeed. The entrée was a beautiful fried saganaki cheese with a cranberry sauce, which was a wonderfully tasty combination of salty and sweet. Effectively simple, and enlivening of the taste buds just as a good entrée should be.
Mains was a very impressive Tapas platter, catering nicely for a meat eater and vegetarian, featuring such delights as a rocket and parmesan salad, dolmades, three cheese arancini, pork ribs, potato and blue cheese spanakopita, tomato with ricotta and more. Everything was cooked just so, and the flavours were strong but (happily) understated at the same time. There was great variety in the platter and yet everything still complemented everything else to a tee.
The dessert was absolutely divine, a Tiramisu with shaved chocolate and fanned strawberry, drizzled with an exotic liqueur, and disappeared in an instant. This delicious treat capped things off beautifully. The accompanying coffee could possibly have been a little stronger and richer, but it's a small complaint when everything that preceded it was so delectable.
The Treehouse also offers an extensive pizza menu, and stealing the occasional glance what other patrons were dining on, these looked extremely tempting as well. The pricing is mid range, so it may set you back a little without completely breaking the budget.
As the evening wore on the place filled up nicely, and was ultimately buzzing with conversation and laughter. This is obviously the place to be in downtown Balaclava on a Sunday evening.
All in all this was a very fun, relaxed and tasty dining experience. The restaurant was squeaky clean and well set out. The service was attentive and the food was high quality and full of subtle flavor. We walked out feeling nicely satisfied, neither too full nor still a little hungry, as happens on occasion.