Where: Coda Bar and Restaurant
What: Two pre-show meals in one week
Coda has been one of those Melbourne eateries that has been on my radar for over a year. However, until this week, I hadn't managed to get to the venue. In fact, at the start of the week, I had no intention to have one, let alone two meals there in the space of six days.
Let's rewind. Some months ago, I was fortunate enough to score tickets to see Ira Glass live (if you don't know his podcast, you *must* check it out!) thanks to an equally fanatic girlfriend. We initially trundled off to Movida, but were advised that, largely thanks to the Australian Open crowds, the venue was full. A very astute staff member recommend that we head to Coda. Excellent recommendation!
Before mentioning the food, I must start this review by stating that the service at Coda was truly outstanding. The waiters and bar staff were friendly and jocular, while maintaining an in-depth knowledge of food and an excellent level of professionalism - a fine balance that is rarely achieved in eateries.
The food at Coda tends to fall into one of two categories - South East Asian or Mediterranean. The former makes up most of the small dishes on the menu and both are offered in the more substantial menu options. On our first visit we were spoilt by fresh and aromatic spanner crab in betel leaf; a crispy rice paper roll, complete with Vietnamese condiments; perfectly cooked pork belly (a current special that I wholeheartedly endorse should you get to the restaurant in the next little while); duck liver parfait; and a salami, buffalo mozzarella and olive platter. All excellent, though the pork belly was a standout.
Only six days later, my beloved's family were in the country (visiting from Dubai) and we were set to attend another show in the CBD - this time, stand up comedy. In keeping with the theme of the evening, our second visit to Coda was a more relaxed affair. We asked the waiter to bring a selection of dishes. A favourite this time was the crispy prawn and tapioca betel leaf. Just as well there was only one per person or I may well have eaten my body weight in them! Once again, flawless service and delicious food made the meal memorable for all diners.
Both of our evenings at Coda were balmy and humid. As such, I opted for either G&Ts or beer. We were approached by (presumably) a sommelier asking if we'd like any advice about wine. We declined, but I suspect that wine is something that Coda does well...like everything really!
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Coda. It is very "Melbourne" - tucked away in a lane, understated and minimalist. It doesn't need to be any more than that. The refined cooking, affable staff and great location make this place (pardon my basketball analogy) a "triple threat"!