425 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
What’s this? Sweet and Sour Fork is reviewing clubs now? Yes, and no. Yes Ms Collins is a club, but no that is not all she is. Mind you, the only thing that would be able to get me to a club (besides insistent friends) would be good food. Though I initially shirked at the prospect of eating in a place with the music going DOOF DOOF DOOF, the big names behind the menu changed my mind almost instantaneously.
So who did Ms Collins manage to rustle up for her dinner party? Paul Wilson from the city of Sydney, Riccardo Momesso of Valentino, Daniel Wilson of Huxtable (and Huxtaburger!), and – get this – Jacques Reymond himself. Sure, it may feel weird eating food by a three-hatted chef in a heritage building decorated with graffiti and lit in pink, but where else are you going to get to eat food by Jacques Reymond?
We came to Ms Collins especially to partake in their Friday Bao Down promo. For just $20 you can find yourself indulging in 3 baos (flavours change weekly) and a glass of wine/beer/champagne. And seeing as I won’t need to drive for another few hours, I indulged in a glass of Distant Cousins Sauvignon Blanc 2014, which was crisp and very fruity – lots of fun to drink.
The bao we were treated to that week was stuffed with Wagyu Beef and Pickled Red Cabbage. Let me make a confession here: despite the big names behind the restaurant/club/bar, I felt a bit apprehensive about the food. I mean, how many famous chefs eventually sell out after retiring? Anyway, disregard all my hang-ups, because these bao were sensational. The wagyu was slow-cooked in its juices until it was sweet and unctuous, whilst the acidic ribbons of red cabbage gave the beef its vivacity. It was all wrapped up in a snowy, fluffy bun and left us licking our fingers.
The success with the bao made me excited to try something else, but I apparently still haven’t learnt my lesson – the Empanadas de Picadillo with Mission Fig Mole ($12, 3pcs) just made me think of greasy pastry filled with nasty mince.
I was of course once again spectacularly wrong. The buttery pastry absolutely dissolved in the mouth, revealing a chunky, aromatic centre of spiced lamb. But wait, there’s more! The empanadas were sweetened with a streak of fig mole, and hiding behind the fruit was the darker smokiness of chilli and chocolate. Topping it all off were crunchy peptia seeds, and caramelised figs. I don’t even need to reminisce to decide that these were the best empanadas I have ever tasted.
Despite only being nibbles, the bao and empanadas were actually quite filling, most likely due to their richness. However we were coerced picking a dessert, and it was possibly the hardest decision I had to make that day (I was still unemployed at the time but NOT ANYMORE!).
In the end it was the Banana and Ron Zacapa Parfait ($12) that I chose, seduced by the combination of rum, hazelnut brittle, and salted caramel. Though not as astonishing as the empanadas, this were nevertheless delicious. The boozy log of banana ice cream was crunchy and moreish once rolled in the crunchy hazelnut brittle, whilst the combination of bitter salted caramel and bananas torched to toffee sweetness was as good as a bonus dessert.
Though we stayed in the main area, I was told that Ms Collins also has private function rooms in all shapes and sizes. Another thing I learnt was that Kiet, the owner of Ms Collins, also owns Operator25 and Alumbra – two big names in brunch and nightlife, so you know that Ms Collins comes from prime pedigree. No matter what sort of night out on the town you’re looking for, Ms Collins has you covered.
Rating: 14/20 – be my mrs collins?
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Ms Collins.