We had dinner at Coda last night. It was perfect. The combination of a first class chef Adam D'Sylva, with Mykal Bartholomew, former manager of MoVida, and Kate Calder, ex-floor supervisor of Taxi, means that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted.
The interior is more Asian hawker meets industrial chic than French bistro. The food however isn’t as easy to characterize. We asked for Adam to design our menu, it is always a privilege to put my eating experience into such able hands.
We were graced with delicacy, texture, and innovation. I was starving after having had a massive day at work, so I must admit we scoffed our first few plates, juices dribbling down our hands and without a care for the coriander stuck in our teeth.
I won’t run through our entire evening, rather I’d just like to highlight a few favorites. The Spanner crab, galangal, roasted chili encased in a lime bettle leaf balanced the subtleties of the silky crab with the punch of the galangal and roasted chili. The juices were sweet and a hint of acid brought it all together. I would have bribed the waiter to bring another if we hadn’t have been presented with the Coffin Bay scallop with pearl tapioca and Yarra Valley salmon caviar so promptly. The pop of the caviar and the buttery creaminess of the pearl tapioca were a 180 from the vivaciousness of the crab we’d just had.
Getting my hands and chin dirty with the blackened quail, daikon and shiso salad was the ultimate pleasure. There’s something delightful in being able to lick your fingers in a beautiful restaurant.
As I write, I realize that I can’t judge which was my favorite dish. The yellow duck curry with lotus root was confronting, sweet, and Moorish. The sizzling plate of prawns, roasted chili, kingbrown mushrooms, fresh green peppercorns and Thai basil had me scraping the plate and licking my fork and the taste plate of baked lemon tart with Yuzu marshmallow for me and the Valrhona chocolate custard pot with hazelnut brittle & pumpkin foam meant for once Hamish and I didn’t have a fight at the end of the evening.
Our sommelier was knowledge and charming. And don’t even get me started on the beauty of being able to order half bottles and even half glasses. That, in itself, would have me return again and again.
My all time favorite restaurant – Cumulus, may just have met its match.
Disclaimer: I know and quite like Adam D’Sylva.