United Kitchen Dining & Tapas, St Kilda

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MELBOURNE | United Kitchen Dining & Tapas is located along bustling Fitzroy Street, within walking distance to St Kilda beach. Classifying themselves as a Latin American fusion tapas restaurant and cocktail bar, their aim is to ‘unite people and cultures via shared experiences’, hence the name United Kitchen.

Opening in November 2015, this is the first restaurant owned by head chef, Tong, and his partner and the restaurant’s PR manager, Lee, both of whom moved to Australia a few years ago. Tong’s desire to create fusion dishes stemmed from his experience working and living in Mexico for 2 years, followed by his return to Qingdao, China, to set up and run 5 restaurants from scratch. The pair are unquestionably experienced in the field of restaurant opening and management.

Walking through the front door, we were amazed and inspired by the indoor-outdoor fusion design of the décor and setup of the venue. We particularly loved the leather sofa and round drum tables by the open window, the string-wrapped wooden table legs, the pots and leaves hanging from a wooden rack from the ceiling, and one of the walls painted with an oxidizing raw iron. All of these features add to the unique, rustic and relaxed feel that this restaurant embodies.

Signature cocktails are masterfully created in their open, central dining bar, and serve as the perfect beverage to start a meal. We recommend the Lemon Thyme Margarita for its sharp, zingy flavours and hit of lemon-thyme salt, and the Ameritaliano for its refreshing, passion fruit tones. The restaurant manager, Bernard, was very helpful in recommending wines and flavours to match the food being served.

The food menu is designed for sharing, ranging from small bites and tapas, to mains and desserts. Tong’s philosophy on sourcing local and seasonal produce is that “You need to work with the ingredients rather than asking the ingredients to work with you.” As we discovered, he works with ingredients very well.

To start with, we had the Ceviche of Yellow fin tuna, pineapple, chili, onion, coriander, tomato and salsa picante, which had the perfect balance of spiciness and contrasting flavours. The Char-Grilled Corn with Parmesan, ancho chili, lime and blue vein cheese mayo reminded us of authentic Mexican street food. Grilled Cos Lettuce arrived topped with Mossvale blue cheese, crushed peanuts, brown butter and roasted sesame and garlic dressing. Our favourite starter, however, was the Crab Meat-stuffed Avocado with Blue Swimmer crab, cherry tomato, onion, chili and fresh lime – a party in your mouth, served with blue corn tortilla chips.

For mains, tender Beef Cheek sat atop silky-smooth mashed potato with grilled carrots, all of which was wonderfully tied together with a sticky beef jus. The slow-cooked Octopus was also a winning dish, mixed with King Edward potato, and topped with a generous sprinkling of fresh chorizo and Chimichurri, which added flavour and texture. A side of fried-then-baked Parmesan Cauliflower with fresh thyme and Shichimi spice was a great accompaniment to our rich-tasting dishes however it was a bit dry – the addition of a dipping sauce or something similar would have added some moisture and completed the side.

Desserts are a must at United Kitchen. You can’t go past the Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Spring Roll, served with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce. Tasting absolutely delicious, the crispy spring roll wafer perfectly contrasted the caramel peanut butter filling. For a lighter dessert option, the vanilla butter poached pear with ricotta and cinnamon cream and vanilla-spiced butter glaze also comes highly recommended.

Overall, this relatively new restaurant is a great venue for all occasions, whether you’re looking for a quiet meal or a large group function. They can seat up to 80 guests with the potential for more, but Tong and Lee believe in optimizing the experience for customers by not wanting to overcrowd the restaurant. With ideas to expand their seating plan to occupy the front footpath, we have no doubt this will become a popular destination heading into warmer months.

United Kitchen Dining & Tapas

2/52 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda
Victoria 3182
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9534 4470
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.unitedkitchen.com.au/

Open
Tue – Wed: 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Thu – Sat: 5:00pm to 12:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm to 8:00pm

United Kitchen Dining & Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Nicole
Nicole
Starting out her career as a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor, Nicole’s professional expansion into the food publication industry came as no surprise to those who saw her genuine passion for food develop over the years. Her appreciation for food doesn’t just entail tasting different cuisines, but also learning about the inspiration behind a dish, and about the story and people behind a venue. Food writing provides Nicole with a creative outlet to share her insatiable appetite with others, whilst food photography enables her to permanently capture the beauty and creativity that is fleetingly shown on the plate. Helping venues to manage their Social Media is a further example of Nicole’s desire to delve deeper into this ever-growing industry. Her love for eating fuels her passion and motivation for maintaining an active lifestyle, with running, hiking, Pilates and travel just some of the ways she manages to stay fit and healthy!

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