Dessous, Melbourne CBD

MELBOURNE | I usually pass on invites for venues when they’re launching new menus. While the new menus often sound good, they’re not interesting enough, or different enough from the old menu to warrant me making a visit over the many other more interesting places that I have on my list. There are other things I’d rather be telling you about.

As always, though, there are exceptions to the rule, such as the invite that I accepted to visit CBD wine bar, Dessous, last week. For the unimitated, Dessous opened in late 2019, underneath the restaurant, Hazel. Not ideal timing, given what was about to happen in 2020, but thankfully it survived. It’s part of Nathan Toleman’s Mulberry Group, along with the aforementioned Hazel, and places like Lilac Wine, and Liminal.

It’s a dark, low-lit, moody space, with a low ceiling, centred around the main bar. The music, chill and turned down low, helps to position Dessous as the kind of wine bar where you can enjoy a proper conversation with your companion(s). Like any good wine bar, Dessous is a place that lends itself to a drink and a snack, or a more substantial meal.

Head chef Dan Sawansak has been with Dessous since it opened, and his menus have always reflected his Thai heritage, and his varied experience working in kitchens in Melbourne, Norway and Hong Kong. French technique, inspired by Chinese-influenced Thai flavours. There’s been straight up Thai dishes, dishes with Thai influences, and non-Thai dishes. What makes the current menu different than what’s come before, is the focus. The food at Dessous has always been delicious, but its never been this self-assured.

Abrolhos Island scallop crudo is combined with lardo, palm heart and tom yum consommé and is a delight. So too, the larb-spiced beef tartare with potato rosti and sorrel, and the sai ua (Northern Thai sausage), served with radish and green chilli relish.

Char-grilled squid with sambal, salted egg aioli, and potato bread to mop up the complex sauce is a must order. Also be sure to order two returning favourites – the unofficial signature dish of Dessous, fluffy doughnuts filled with spanner crab, sriracha, and salmon roe; and roasted bone marrow served with sticky rice and Thai herb salad. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, finish things off with the pandan lamington, served with coconut sorbet and sorrel.

To drink, there’s classic cocktails with twists inspired by the food menu, local craft beer and spirits, and a wine list that focuses on sustainability, biodynamic practices, and exposing unfamiliar regions and varietals.


Basement, 164 Flinders Lane
Victoria 3000

Telephone: (03) 9070 4939
E-mail: [email protected]

Tue – Thu: 5:00pm to 12:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 1:00am



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