Why would anyone review a restaurant just one week before it closes?
Well, lots of reasons. It may have been an iconic restaurant worth remembering, a memorial, or perhaps as an opportunity to comment on the food scene as illustrated by the place.
To some extent that applies to this review. It makes me wonder.
How can a restaurant survive six lengthy lockdowns, with government support of course. but then fail when they're free to open? How can a restaurant do a $14.5 million restoration and make money? Is it a lousy business plan or just Melbourne's fickle patrons?
Golda is a special case. It has excellent reviews, its easily accessible in a busy part of Prahran, attached to the Cullen hotel.
The food is modern Israeli boasting flavours of the Middle East.
They offer an a la carte or a six or eight course tasting menu. We, as usual went for the lot. $90/person.
We started with Grandma Rosa's Pickles, a small bowl of pickled vegetables, mostly cabbage and florets of cauliflower.
Green falafel, roasted beetroot humus fermented red zhug, (a spicy hot sauce), red cabbage followed.
Two colourful salads of no great distinction. A third salad Spicy Mizrachi zucchini, broad beans, Tzfat cheese, heart of palm, was very gently spiced. A pleasant dish.
Marinated labna, cherry tomato confit, cellery, pine nuts, lavender was indeed a very nice salad.
Cured salmon pastrami dill cream cheese, chain, pickled shallots was a great and unusual dish
but the Spiced duck shashlik, eggplant caviar, mango amber sauce, fenugreek, despite the flowery description and attractive appearance, was very ordinary.
They did serve an extremely good house bakes Iraqui flatbread.
For main courses we had slow cooked lamb shoulder with chickpeas, silverbeet, turmeric yoghurt, date and rosemary reduction sounded very exciting but it wasn't.
There was only a tiny amount of lamb cut into very small pieces and a large amount of chickpeas. Turmeric and date unrecognisable and rosemary handled with a light touch did not make a good dish. For some reason they failed to mention the mint!
Spicy Georgian quail, freekah and walnuts, plum and tamarind sauce, crispy vine leaves was furnished with only a small dry leg and thigh for each of us. Where was the breast?? Take away the quail and it was still, despite all the ingredients, unimpressive.
After this we had two vegetable dishes chosen by the chef to match the previous dishes. They both were very suitable to finish the main meal.
Lebanese fattoush; grilled tomato, cucumber, pickled garlic, sumac, croutons
Lydya's eggplant roulade, burghul, golden raisins, walnuts, burnt tomato and pomegranite molasses
was the most interesting of the dishes for me.
A dessert, cream covered chocolate on fruit was nice and quite simple.
There is a modest wine list, moderately priced.
Service was enthusiastic, competent and considerate.
There are lots of rave reviews of Golda. I think they mostly come from people who are not very familiar with Middle Eastern flavours. As such they may have been exciting but perhaps not enough to get them to become frequent return customers. Certainly I wouldn't be back BUT I'm glad I ate that meal even though I give the food not much more than a bare pass.
Firstly I like to encourage initiative.
Not something you could easily rustle up at home the whole meal was complex with lots of ingredients in every dish, which seems to be the way chef's try to make their mark. In this case i felt that chef Rotem Papa tried perhaps too hard but you never fly high if you don't set a high mark. Although several of the dishes failed it was worth the experience
Now Chef Papo will go somewhere else, i think in Australia, where ever it is I would like to go there to see what sort of new experience it would provide.
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