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Australasia Lunchtime Menu Launched

Sleuth and the Bishop are joined by guests for finely crafted food

Published on March 14th 2012.

Australasia Lunchtime Menu Launched

SO SLEUTH (click here) and the Bishop of Rochester wandered into Australasia one Friday noontime to sample the new lunch menu.

It’s simple enough. Two dishes £11, three £15, four £20.

Sleuth and the Bishop went for the latter choice and thus ate two thirds of the twelve dishes on offer. 

The Bishop of Rochester wearing his mitre at a rakish angleThe Bishop of Rochester wearing his mitre at a rakish angle

There were four and a half favourites including Collingwood Dinkies, the red fish curry, the teriyaki, the Nigiri selection, and the odd but beguiling popcorn tempura.

The latter came with an excellent red/orange salt of quite extraordinary intensity.  

"How's that prepared?" Sleuth asked Edith, the French waitress and charm and professionalism personified.

"Salt, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, lime, water (and another ingredient Sleuth missed). We then dry the salt on a window for 10-15 hours," she replied.

"And is it used to accompany anything else?" asked the Bishop dipping his finger into the salt and licking it.

"No, just this," said Edith.

This seemed like a massively complicated process by which to arrive at a powerful partner for a single sweet corn kernel covered in a tempura batter. Is it a sign of psychopathic foodie obsession or just a paranoid desire to overdo things? Either way it was gorgeous, and an almost fanatic attention to detail.

Edith about to welcome the Bishop of WrongchesterEdith about to welcome the Bishop of Wrongchester

The seared teriyaki beef was exquisitely tender, the sushi rice in the Nigiri was just perfect for the refined fish selection on top while the red fish curry and sticky jasmine rice was strong in flavour with a graceful kick.

The Collingwood Dinkies were a revelation though.

These are Lilliputian pies that are surprisingly filling. They come as a trio with fish, chicken and pork filling all sat on a complementary and tasty glue/sauce. There's some herb and oil magic going on inside a pastry which is chunky yet forgiving and crying out to be ripped into for the soft innards. None of these dinkies disappointed. 

Sexy pies named after Collingwood in Melbourne, AustraliaSexy pies named after Collingwood in Melbourne, Australia


Collingwood, Melbourne, named after some pies in ManchesterCollingwood, Melbourne, named after some pies in Manchester 

So what was the half fave dish?

Sleuth reckons it's the popcorn tempura. Excellent though the massively manipulated salt is, the popcorn won't satisfy if you're only going for the two dishes for £11.

Popcorn tempuraPopcorn tempura

In fact anything less than the three for £15 on this menu is missing the point - even if you're used to the Oceanic treats the main a la carte menu of Australasia delivers. With complex flavours like this and the modest scale of the individual dishes then variety literally becomes the spice of life.

The only dud dish was the sate chicken on a noodle salad which came cold and was overly coconutty. Why do this dish cold? Shame that this was one of the more substantial bowls of food. Australasia should change or amend it. 

Sate chicken - booSate chicken - boo

Ruth Allan, fellow food reviewer, loved the pies as well.

She'd dropped by late in proceedings on the invite of the Bishop. She ordered separately her favourite thing at Australasia, the mango soufflé with coconut ice-cream and mango soup. This is categorically not on the lunch menu but here's a picture of it anyway. 'Twas as gentle yet intense as ever.

Sweet dream are made of thisSweet dreams are made of this

To drink we had the Australasia Albariño (£30). This helped the conversation about work and architecture flow beautifully. Clean Spanish wine this, a good nose, not flabby in the least, occasionally fruity, and a sharp, crisp, disciplined finish. 

Australasia's lunch menu provides a condensed, very modern, luxury afternoon repast. There's room for that in Manchester, so don't go along and complain about small portions as though you're a Yorkshire penny-pincher. Enjoy the details and nuances, but beware the Albariño.

Sleuth and the Bishop spent the rest of the afternoon spreading love, purity and truth in a gibbering way across Manchester starting at the City Arms on Kennedy Street. 

Australasia is at 1 The Avenue, Spinningfields, City. M3 3AP. 0161 831 0288. www.australasia.uk.com

Follow Sleuth on twitter @Sleuth


Teriyaki beefTeriyaki beef

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousMarch 15th 2012.

But what if you are a Yorkshire penny-pincher?

AMBMarch 15th 2012.

Oh good Lord that beef looks gorgeous....I'm drooling!

AnonymousMarch 15th 2012.

If you're a Yorkshire penny pincher get to Wetherspoons :)

SleuthMarch 16th 2012.

Bless Wikipedia. Collingwood Dinkies are pies served at all Australian rules football, short crust butter pastry, filled with meat & gravy, the manufacturers of these pies are well known throughout Australia & have strong affiliations to certain teams "Four & Twenty Meat Pies", "Balfords pies", "Mrs Macs Pies" & last but not least " Patties Pies" who claim to be the original producers of Meat pies. always served hot & eaten with a beer in one hand & a pie in the other (this stops the Ausies from killing each other during the game). "Dinkies" this is term used for small meat pies that were served at the more discerning swaray, usally during afternoon tea, this term was brought over to Australia by the British Colonials.
Collinwood is the ancestraial home of "Australian Rules Football". Collinwood AFC are known as the "Magpies" (due to their Black & White strip), the nick name for Colinwood AFC is "The Pies".

RayMarch 21st 2012.

Nice write up. I'll give it a go.

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