GOLDEN FIELDS

2/157 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda, VIC 3182
http://goldenfields.com.au/
Another year, another Andrew McConnell restaurant. I’ve been a little obsessed with the bloke ever since the extraordinary birthday dinner I had at Cumulus Inc last year, and less than a week after that, I had locked in Golden Fields as the dining destination for my next birthday. 

Golden Fields has been predictably popular ever since it’s opening, and even more so after it was crowned ‘Best New Restaurant of 2012’ by The Age. That said though, it was so quiet at 6pm on a Monday night that the 5 of us could have probably walked in without a booking. 

I quite liked the sparse and restrained interior, its austerity lightened up by a front wall made entirely of glass, and a large mirror hanging at the back. There was a long, tall marble bench lining the open kitchen in what seems like the signature style of the McConnell restaurants, though Golden Fields felt a lot more impersonal compared to Cumulus Inc. I did really like the chicken claw coat hooks though; they looked simultaneously like birds taking flight, and chicken claws lamenting their fate with a gesture that wailed ‘WHY ME?’

Sake
Chris, Daniel and I had arrived early, so we kicked things off with a small carafe of Sake, the name of which I had conveniently lost. My blunder aside though, this was a light and fruity sake that quickly dissolved into a spicy finish that held a hint of fennel. It was very easy to drink, but I could feel the heat spreading to the tip of my ears before I had even finished. 

John Dory, Salmon Roe, Scud Chilli, Ginger and Lime ($15)
Once everyone had arrived, we started our meal with a couple of raw dishes. The first was a plate of John Dory, Salmon Roe, Scud Chilli, Ginger and Lime ($15). The delicate fillets of fish were firm and delicious, the squeeze of lime and the tiny yet potent slivers of scud chilli dancing on the palate.  

Bonito, White Miso, Ponzu, Sesame Seaweed ($16)
Bonito, White Miso, Ponzu, Sesame Seaweed ($16)
Our other raw dish – Bonito, White Miso, Ponzu, Sesame Seaweed ($16) – was a fun little piece of DIY. We were instructed to put a piece of the fish on the crisp square of seaweed, top it with miso paste and shreds of white ginger, before wrapping it up and dipping it into the ponzu dressing. When you do it right, this is a lovely little parcel of melt-in-the-mouth fish, crisp seaweed, and a potent hit of umami. When you do it wrong like me however, you end up with a messy (albeit still delicious) handful of disintegrating seaweed to shove as quickly as possible into the mouth before it collapsed. 

Shredded Chicken, Sesame Paste, House-Made Cold Rice Noodles, Chilli Oil ($17)
We moved onto the more sizable dishes with the Shredded Chicken, Sesame Paste, House-Made Cold Rice Noodles, Chilli Oil ($17). This was a fresh yet substantial offering, the cool slippery rice noodles pairing wonderfully with crunchy veggies and tender poached chicken. The entire salad was drizzled with chilli oil that had a hint of bean paste to it, and slathered with a thick, nutty sesame sauce. I’ve nothing negative to say about this, it’s really quite yummy. However on the other hand, the flavours are so traditional and uninspired that it’s the kind of thing you can find in any Chinese restaurant with a half-decent chef. 

Szechuan Braised Eggplant, Minced Pork, Rice Noodle ($18)
The Szechuan Braised Eggplant, Minced Pork, Rice Noodle ($18) was the perfect comfort food for a chilly near-winter’s day in Melbourne. The sticky caramelised eggplant and pork mince were bursting with chilli and ginger, and it was especially good for me because it had the slippery rolled rice noodles that I spent the first 5 years of my life eating in China, but never had again since moving to Australia. 

Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder, Cumin, Salted Lemon ($68)
Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder, Cumin, Salted Lemon ($68)
The Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder, Cumin, Salted Lemon ($68) was a no-brainer of a choice. The lamb was faultlessly cooked so as to fall apart the moment it was cut open. Served with thick lemon dressing and a pinch of cumin salt if you so choose, this was simple, satisfying, and delicious. 

Whole Roast Flounder, Shredded Potato, Seaweed Butter ($36)
Our second main was the Whole Roast Flounder, Shredded Potato, Seaweed Butter ($36). It didn’t look as tantalising as the lamb shoulder, but I loved it just as much, if not more. The seaweed butter gave the silky fish an indescribable richness that’s both light yet decadent, and the pile of shredded potato on top was sour, slightly crunchy, and very addictive paired with the creamy tenderness of the fish. 

Peanut Butter Parfait, Salted Caramel, and Soft Chocolate ($12)
The first of our two desserts was the famed Peanut Butter Parfait, Salted Caramel, and Soft Chocolate ($12). The ingredient list was practically fail-safe, and the fluffy peanut butter ice cream with dark chocolate, drizzled with sticky salted caramel was indeed scrumptious. I will admit however that whilst I enjoyed it, I wasn’t wowed by it, as I found everything about it rather predictable. 

Baked Tapioca and Vanilla Custard Brulee ($15)
We finished our meal off with a shallow bowl of Baked Tapioca and Vanilla Custard Brulee ($15). The little popping spheres of tapioca were especially enjoyable in contrast to the silky custard and crisp toffee. And I thought I would never say this but, it could’ve done with a little more custard and a little less toffee, as the sugariness all but overwhelmed the delicate custard.
Overall, I would say that, food-wise, our meal at Golden Fields was quite good. There were no stand-out dishes but they were all enjoyable, even if you could find similar quality dining in any decent Chinese restaurant. The service however fared less well. It was distantly polite at best and rather non-existent all up. It was a pain how all the dishes arrived one after the other; it would’ve be fine if it were just two people dining, but not so good when there are 5 hungry stomachs sitting around the table. I liked Golden Fields, but only just.
Rating: 13.5/20 – bronze fields.
The rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit

Golden Fields on Urbanspoon

Asian  Fusion  Hatted  Impress Your Date ($30-$45)  Modern Australian  St Kilda  Victoria 



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