Red Spice QV Melbourne is, along with its sister restaurant Red Spice Road, one of those restaurants that we’ve always been meaning to visit but have never gotten around to doing so. Recently, Red Spice QV started serving up brunch on Sundays and we were invited to come and sample a few dishes of our choice from the brunch menu.
Walking inside, we were instantly struck by the size of the venue. In contrast to many of the restaurants we’ve visited in recent months, the space is larger than we had anticipated with a lower bar area, mezzanine, upstairs and private dining room. The design is dominated by sleek lines and a modern, yet approachable aesthetic.
Executive Chef John McLeay frequently visits South-East Asia and the influences and flavours of this part of the world are apparent in the menu, which calls itself “Modern Asian with Melbourne Attitude”. Malaysian and Singaporean influences feature most prominently on the menu, with Thai and Vietnamese (and to a lesser extent Korean and Japanese) flavours also apparent in both the food and the drinks. It’s very much a matter of finding flavour combinations that work well together, rather than strictly sticking to a given cuisine or style. Where possible, local ingredients are used.
The drinks menu contains a variety of cocktails and mocktails, along with the usual beer, wine and spirits selection. The cocktails and mocktails continue the trend of Asian flavours however we weren’t too keen on going for alcoholic drinks given that it was early morning after a big night that had ended just a few hours earlier. Instead, we gave the mocktails a try and were suitably impressed. Lauren went for a Yuzu Fizz, which contained Yuzu Juice, House Made Kaffir Syrup, Fresh Mint, Cucumber & Soda while I went for the Lychee Passion, consisting of Passionfriut, Lemon Juice, House Made Kaffir Syrup & Lychee Juice, Cocktails are priced at $19.50 each while a mocktail will set you back $9.50.
Breakfast Bao ($16.00 for 3)
The breakfast bao consisted of steamed buns filled with sweet pork sausage, scrambled egg, cucumber pickle & coriander. We really enjoyed this fusion of Western and Asian flavours and liked the textural complexity of each bao. The only criticism we had was that there wasn’t any sauce, and this did make each bit feel as though something was missing. Some BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce or even some Japanese tonkatsu sauce would really complete this dish.
Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel, Apple Slaw & Black Vinegar ($35.00)
During brunch, the lunch menu is also available and the famous pork belly was one item that was on the lunch menu that we weren’t going to leave without trying. We’ve heard so many good things about this dish and can confidently say that the hype is justified. The slow cooked pork belly is tender on the inside, which is in stark contrast to the super crispy coating around each piece. The chilli caramel was sweet with a proper chilli hit to it and the apple slaw, after being swished around in the black vinegar and caramel sauce was tasty, but certainly not required. If Red Spice QV started up a food truck and this was the only thing they sold, I’m sure there would be lines.
Pandan French Toast ($18.00)
There are a few things that, when I see them on a menu, I have to order and pandan is one of them. I was quite certain that I’d enjoy the pandan French toast with cinnamon caramel banana, smashed cashews & coconut ice-cream, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I was expecting that the dish would be quite sweet however it was really well balanced. The pandan French toast and the ice-cream weren’t particularly sweet at all, with the cinnamon caramel bananas serving to add just the right level of sweetness to each bite. All the flavours came together really well and the cashews added some much needed textural variety.
Red Spice QV is a place we’d heard about before but had never visited. The famous pork belly is as amazing as everyone says and the brunch options are a nice change from the usual baked eggs and toast with smashed avocado that can be found on brunch menus throughout Melbourne. When fusing flavours from various Asian cuisines, there’s a lot of potential to get things wrong but at Red Spice QV, they’ve got it right.
Red Spice QV
37 Artemis Lane
Telephone: (03) 8660 6300
Mon – Fri: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 5:00pm to late
Sat: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 6:00pm to late
Sun: 10:30pm to 5:30pm; 6:00pm to late