|Mural within Greenhouse|
Since launching this blog, I’ve been noticing how many of my friends appreciate good food, wine and coffee. I am often told of a new bar, a new restaurant, or a must-try. I particularly enjoy it, especially when it’s time to catch up and the other party is happy to try a new place as much as I am. In particular, my friend Lana is the perfect example, so when it came time to organise a place to have a dinner and catch up, both of us decided that we’d venture to Greenhouse, as expectations were high and we hadn’t been there before.
Due to its CBD location, I found it immensely difficult to find somewhere to park. I intentionally left home early, knowing that it could be difficult however it still wasn’t enough time (I spent approximately 20 minutes driving endlessly). Thankfully, Lana is very patient and waited for me, as I was a tiny bit late. On arrival, I worked my way through the lovely wall of terracotta pots and greenery outside and found Lana in a quaint corner, near the back of the venue.
Both Lana and I had great expectations of Greenhouse, especially due to all the hype about the young head chef, Matt Stone. In 2011, Matt Stone was named the Good Food Guides Best Young Chef. He was also the sous chef of Star Anise before its premature closure and helped create the menu for Pata Negra (which is also on the wishlist of places to go for Lana and I).
After looking at the drinks list, we decided to have a cocktail for the evening. The Recipe #3.1 cocktail ($17) looked very appealing, as it contained rosso antico, mint, cucumber, strawberry, lemon, lime, pink grapefruit and bubbles. Rosso antico is a lightly fortified wine, which is made with neutral grape alcohol and features approximately 32 different herbs and spices and is bittersweet in taste. The presentation was really nice however there was too much ice and it tasted very strongly of citrus and was a bit sour, with no strawberry or mint evident.
I found the Greenhouse menu very interesting. There were quite a few seafood options and unusual dishes for you to try. Lana wanted to try the ox tongue with horseradish and beetroot however I was less inclined, as I am yet to acclimatise to the thought of eating tongue. Instead, we decided on four dishes to share, as the Greenhouse menu consists of small plates.
Our first dish to arrive was the grilled haloumi with smokey eggplant and pistachios ($12). This was a standout to me as the combination of flavours was great – the salty haloumi with the subtle eggplant and crunchiness of the pistachios was something that I particularly liked.
The second dish was the smoked eel croquettas with preserved lemon aioli ($12). Lana particularly liked this dish and I think it was her favourite of the night. The croquettas had great texture – they were especially crispy on the outside and the filling inside was soft and very tasty. The smoked eel flavour was definitely something that tasted different however it was really good and I definitely recommend giving these a try.
My favourite plate of the night was the Pizza ($16). The pizza for the night was topped with zucchini, red onion, cheese and a lovely passata sauce which tasted like it had been house made. The base of the pizza was a wholemeal dough and it was amazingly crispy and tasty (especially as it was wholemeal!). On their website, there is a special mention that the sous chef of Greenhouse is the one who makes the house breads and pastry. He does a fantastic job and I would definitely recommend ordering a pizza there.
The squid with garlic and ancho chilli ($18) was a bit of a disappointment. The squid was cooked really well as it was still delicate to chew and was a good level of spiciness. Unfortunately, the cooked parsley seemed to overpower the plate and the taste wasn’t very appetising.
Our dessert was the standout for the night. I ordered the caramel parfait with malt and orio ($15). This dish was really indulgent and it tasted really good. I especially liked the caramel parfait as it had great flavour and was silky soft. The oreos and the malt at the bottom was a lovely touch however I would recommend sharing this plate between two as it is very, very sweet.
For Lana’s dessert, she had the cherry rhubarb pudding ($15). Lana said she enjoyed it; however she wasn’t able to finish it either, as it was very sweet.
The décor was really interesting for me. I am quite interested in sustainable and local produce being used within restaurants so I especially liked the concept that Greenhouse has implemented. The water from the bar and the kitchen is recycled and used to water the garden upstairs. There is a worm garden for compost and the venue was made with a mission to limit their impact on the environment. Joost Bakker, the designer, has also fitted the venue with earthy, contemporary furniture and fixtures throughout the venue. I especially like the bar, which has the bottles of liquor hanging from the ceiling. Greenhouse is definitely worth a look for if you are an interior design buff!
There were two things I especially disliked during my dinner at Greenhouse: The noise and the service. The venue was especially loud on the evening Lana and I went. I am unsure if it was the acoustics of the venue or the fact that the loud music made people shout to others on their table. I found our waitress arrogant and at times she was rude. She slammed down a few of our plates, interrupted conversation quite rudely (with no apology afterwards) and seemed a bit annoyed the whole night. I found it a bit off-putting as it made me feel as if I was a burden.
Overall, I liked it – mainly for the concept. I think the service needs to be revised as it wasn’t friendly and at points it was rude. The food was generally good and relatively priced, as the food alone came to $88 (and with drinks the bill was $127). Lana thought that the experience was average however that could be contributed to our high expectations. I wouldn’t have a cocktail again however the wine and drink list seems to be thoroughly comprised.