In my initial Googling of this place, I had to specify "restaurant" in the search term, because it was still new and Google thought I was looking for a bowling joint. Tenpin (67 Beach Street, Port Melbourne) is actually named after a giant bowling pin - not really relevant to South-East Asian cuisine, I would have thought, but hey! why not. I do very much like the bowling alley style font used in their logo, however. Retro and with a swish!
Port Melbourne is a bitch to get to. Seriously, if you don't have a car, Uber or a cab is your best bet. (Sort out your s*^t, PTV!) I got there in a very roundabout way via PT, getting into the city first to catch the 109 tram right to the end (near where the Spirit of Tasmania docks) and walked five minutes down the road. Although annoying to get to, no one can deny this restaurant's premium position: literally across the road from the beach, looking out to Port Phillip Bay. We were there on a February evening (only a few months after it opened in December 2015), and the sunset views were spectacular.
The restaurant is fronted with glass - not surprising, considering the outlook - which gives it lots of natural light (well, in the warmer months, anyway).
Once inside, there is basically one large room, with bench seating down the left wall, a long communal table down the middle, and a couple more tables on your right. A bar and the kitchen sit down the back.
I loved the sparse industrial look of the place, designed by one of the owner-partners, apparently: concrete walls, timber flooring, structural beams, all interspersed with luxe velvet cushioning along the bench seating (in an surprisingly appealing mustard colour), clever lighting, and little splashes of red in art, flowers, placemats, a fire hydrant. I wasn't really a fan of the lights spotted along the concrete wall - they looked unfinished (maybe they were?!). But everything else about this place was confidently bright and airy, with personality.
The many hard surfaces mean Tenpin would get quite noisy, so considering the decor and noise level it's probably more suited to young-ish types than, for instance, families. Great for a date or dinner with a small group of mates! Since our visit they have also opened the upper level - with an outdoor deck. Woo to the hoo.
The wines tend more to the European side of things here, which I love, and I enjoyed a couple of glasses of my favourite varietal lately: Gruner Veltliner. My dining companion informed me that cocktails were a thing here, so she tried a cherry sour cocktail, which I gotta say, looked pretty amazing.
But What About The Food?
The head chef here, Ashley Richey, had been putting out Middle Eastern-style food down the road at Mr Lawrence at the London (run by the same owners), and had also previously worked at Chin Chin - so I expected pretty exciting stuff and some kind of pow-wow factor. Overall, it was pretty great food, and it packed a punch, but there were a few hit/miss things that I'm guessing were mostly due to the menu still being ironed out.
|Edamame, with the pleasant addition of sesame - one of my faves|
|Scallop - great flavours, but a bit too overloaded to eat easily, |
and a wee bit too much chilli for me
|Pork belly - delicious! We hadn't finished all the crackling |
before the plate was taken away though :(
|Mahi-mahi fish with XO sauce - tasty but again, a bit on the hot side for me|
|Gai lan - always a winner|
|Chicken curry - with a beautifully balanced |
peanut/chilli sauce, and quality bits of chicken
The service was also a mixed bag. Our host was delightful and charming, however our waitress swung between charming and cold, almost rude. Again - perhaps something that is likely to be ironed out over time.
I was with a blogger friend, so we ate on the house this time, which was very kind. And would I pay for a meal here? Absolutely. The decor, view, cocktails and food would entice me back. Aside from a few small things to take care of, Tenpin is on the up and up.