*Virginia Plain is now closed.*
So I completely forgot to take pics this night. At least publishable ones that don't have my friend's face in the middle. But that's okay, because this place is worth blogging about, even without pictures.
One of my best friends and I have a regular catch-up, and this one fell the week before Christmas, so we decided to make an event of it and try the much-hyped new kid on the Flinders Lane block, Virginia Plain (31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne). We were early, so went for a drink first at Tazio Birraria & Pizzeria on the corner of Flinders Lane and Exhibition Street. We sat on the upstairs balcony, which was far less sleazy-old-man-filled than the downstairs section, and had a lovely glass of Prosecco.
When we got to the restaurant, I almost walked right past. It's so unassuming-looking. It is literally next door to Cumulus, which might make it easier for me to find it in future...
I had booked for the $75 pp degustation menu (including matched wines), but this didn't seem to have been noted, as the waiter brought us menus and wine lists. Once clarified, the first wine was promptly poured though, so we were happy. And it was delicious. I wish I could remember what it was. They were all delicious. Damn my hazy alcoholic memory.
The entree was a gazpacho - pretty good, although my friend found the croutons too dry. The second dish was some kind of white fish, cooked well and quite simply. The third was an beautifully presented assortment of meat-related items, including a stuffed bone marrow thing which we both found very odd. It was basically a bit of bone with stuffing sitting on it. Obviously you couldn't eat the bone, so the stuffing bit was the marrow somehow dressed up, and it was just kind of tasteless and pointless. There was also a roasted onion, a bit of wagyu steak, and a few other quite tasty bits and bobs. Dessert was a deconstructed Banoffee Pie served in a glass. It looked lovely but neither my friend nor I like banana, so it was somewhat wasted on us. Very rarely is banana served as the main ingredient of a degustation dessert - it's not something we'd had to deal with before! Fortunately the banana part was quite chunky and easy to pick out - the rest: toffee, ice cream, saucy creamy stuff - was wonderful, and untainted by the evil banana!
Virginia Plain is a large space, coolly decorated in contrasting tones with lots of glass and solid surfaces. It felt a bit empty, even though most tables were filled, which was surprising for a place that's had so much buzz around it. I'd expected it packed and bustling! The service was fantastic and I would love to go back to try it again, without degustation-ing.
Update: 17 June 2013
FRESH OFF THE PRESS...
Virginia Plain is currently undergoing an identity transformation. As of Thursday 20 June 2013, it is no longer schmancy restaurant Virginia Plain, but is being rebranded (but run by the same team) as the more casual Mercy Bar. Check out the official statement here. Official opening night is Wednesday 19 June 2013 - free entry for all. New Mercy Bar post coming soon!