I have a confession to make. I don’t like seafood. Well, that’s not entirely true. I like it – if it doesn’t taste like fish.
Yet despite this, I continue to order it. Perhaps it’s because seafood dishes always sound so appealing.
The views of Docklands don’t get much better that this and Livebait’s floor to ceiling windows and prime position take full advantage.
It’s a special occasion place with some special occasion dishes and, while some come with extremely special occasion price tags, the majority of the meals are more than reasonably priced.
The crispy Kubota pork belly with chilli plum sauce at $14.50 and tempura battered California rolls with soya wasabi sauce for $16 certainly sounded excellent value. Unfortunately, while the chilli plum sauce imparted a lovely smoky, savoury flavour as opposed to that cloying sweetness that can sometimes drag a plum sauce down, the pork belly itself was probably more chewy than crisp. Pleasant enough, but the lack of crack stopped it from being great. The California rolls were more of a success, the smoked salmon still fresh within the rice surrounds, the light crunch of the outer tempura providing a delightful contrast in texture and flavour.
And then it happened. My eyes couldn’t go past the lobster tail with crystal bay prawns, calamari and seafood in a coconut red curry, served with citrus infused jasmine rice. Even at $56 a pop, I had to have it. Even at $65, which was its actual price (mental note: always remember lobster prices are seasonal), I couldn’t say no. I blame the words “citrus infused”.
It certainly looked an impressive dish, the butterflied lobster tail sitting atop a rich, dark red soup with a couple of prawn heads poking out, their de-shelled bodies a welcome discovery beneath the surface. However the coconut red curry sauce more closely resembled a rich bisque than the light and airy Thai flavour I was expecting. And, as we all know – bisques are very … fishy.
To be fair, the texture of the calamari and prawns was perfect, however while the lobster tail meat was certainly firm and white, it wasn’t exactly succulent and whether the distinct flavour of mud came from the fish stock or lobster, it was definitely there.
My partner’s Black Angus New York strip loin however was divine. Also $65, it was ordered rare and the balance between the smoky, seared surface and the moist, flavoursome centre was spot on. Topped with a few lightly battered, crisp onion rings, the side of creamy herb polenta, béarnaise and horseradish provided a delightful creamy yet sharp lift to the char grilled 450gm slab of meat.
Livebait is very Docklands, but not very Melbourne. Perhaps due to its Sydney owner’s origins, the glossy, large space is a touch more glamour than class. And, in a trait I also tend to associate with Sydney waterfront restaurants, the quality doesn’t always match the image.
I’m not quite sure the food is worth the prices, but the experience certainly is.
And remember – if you’re a seafood fan – you’re bound to love it.3.5 stars, Cuisine Undercover October 2009
Docklands Community News
Find out more about Livebait Seafood Restaurant at http://www.docklands-melbourne.com.au/livebait.htm