Phone: (03) 9388 0297
To say bye to one of my close buddies moving to Canberra, I visited The Brunswick Mess Hall for a group dinner. For some weird reason, I'd always walked past this joint in Brunswick and thought it was more of a formal function space than a casual restaurant or bar. But I'm glad my friend suggested The Brunswick Mess Hall because it was a really nice venue with flavoursome Asian cuisine!
Between the six or so of us, we shared a couple of dishes. My favourite of the night was the Szechuan Pepper Squid. The squid pieces were lightly battered and fried, so it was crunchy and there was more squid than batter to enjoy. I didn't actually taste too much pepper, let alone that of the Sze-chuan variety (the real hot stuff), but I liked it better that way as I could eat it with lime and sweet chilli sauce instead. The little bed of salad was delicious with its mint, onion and lime juice combination...spicy, sweet and sour....
I also put down the order for some Yakatori sticks. They came quickly enough and looked great on the plate...
During the night, we found it a tad bit difficult to catch the attention of the bar staff to which we were suppose to hand in our order (self-tick order sheet system)...But it was a busy, busy Friday night and the staff were really attentive and nice when they had the time. Also, our cocktails came out reasonably quickly. I ordered a 'Tromba Cooler' from the menu mainly because I saw the words 'pandan vanilla syrup' and the Malaysian in me got really excited...
I liked the Tromba Cooler because you could really smell and taste the Pandan Vanilla syrup. So it felt like a pandan chiffon cake had been pleasantly blended into my drink. On the flip side, I couldn't really taste any pineapple. Still, it was a pleasant, tropical cocktail and I enjoyed the pandan too much to have any real complaints.
A few nights later, when I found myself in the same area, I wondered in to try the other cocktail that I had been eying over: The Sakura Fizz. It was a pretty little thing and was quite fragrant due to the rose and honey elements. If egg white sounds odd as an ingredient, have no fear! It does nothing to the taste. You only get the tequila and fruitiness of all it all - a good drink for summer, particularly if you enjoy sour flavours. The second visit was on a Wednesday night and there were far fewer people. The staff were even more attentive and friendly on that day and the speed of service improved dramatically.
The venue itself was something to enjoy with its creeping vines, animal projections and dangling lights. There was a DJ on the Friday night spinning tracks at the back, but you could enjoy a more intimate conversation up front, in one of the comfortable little rooms...
All in all, The Brunswick Mess Hall was great fun....colourful, vibrant and messy in a good way. This applied also to the food and drinks. I enjoyed the cocktails, with their inclusion of fun Eastern elements and patterned straws. I also thought the food menu offered a good selection of old favourites. While I wouldn't call it the best Asian food I've tasted, nor the most creative, I will say that they offer flavoursome, crowd-pleasing dishes....so I'd recommend The Brunswick Mess Hall for functions or big dinners, where there's a lotta crowd-pleasing and entertaining to be done!
Is it worth visiting? Sure, it's a cool, vibrant space with flavoursome old favourites.
Price range: $$$ (You're looking at $12-$28 per dish)