Spring and Summer
An ex-Chin Chin chef opens a St Kilda restaurant for all seasons.
There are some foods that conjure up feelings of warm weather, and there are some restaurants that are simply named after it. Like Spring and Summer. New to St Kilda's Barkly Street, the restaurant is the latest addition to Melbourne's vast Asian fusion set. But Asian fusion sceptics can relax. With three years of working at Chris Lucas' three restaurants Chin Chin, Kong and Hawker Hall under his belt, head chef and co-owner Peevasut Laovanich (nickname Golf) knows his flavours well.
Relying on a strong Thai focus, the seasonal menu also features dishes that borrow flavours from Japanese, Malaysian and Korean cuisine. As is custom these days, the menu is made to share and non-negotiable orders include the smoky spicy BBQ corn with gochujang (a red hot, fermented Korean condiment) and smoked cheese ($8). Choosing between tender grilled pork neck tossed in tamarind sauce and served with mixed greens ($18) and the crunchy tempura soft-shell crab served on a bed of spicy, buttery coconut curry sauce ($22) makes ordering an ordeal. Save the food envy for another day and order both.
Matcha pannacotta on chocolate soil with sesame brittle is a good example of a barely sweet Asian dessert. But if you're in need of something with a little more sugar, order a mountain of pandan coconut ice cream — it's served with yellow bean paste and sweet potato crisps for dipping. The also restaurant boasts a generous range of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options, and Golf is eager to accommodate to keep everyone's bellies full.
The no-fuss drinks menu ticks all the boxes as well, with brews from local brewery Two Birds and a small wine list. Tropical cocktails are served with an Asian twist, from the lemongrass mojito ($18) to the Bangkok mule ($17.50). The Full Moon Party, with spiced rum, 1800 coconut tequila, pineapple juice and coconut cream ($18) is a must for Bounty bar lovers. Colourful sodas like the floral, sweet-sour Spring and Summer purple lemonade ($7) or house passionfruit and lime soda ($7) are perfect non-alcoholic options.
Edison lights, clean marble benchtops and blond timber creates the warm, beachside interior. Industrial black metal and white washed walls gives the space a sleek, sophisticated feel. Despite the name (which is confusingly a little pigeonholing), this eatery is great for all seasons.
UPDATE AUGUST 10, 2017: Spring and Summer is turning one and, to celebrate, they're giving away 100 free bowls of ramen between Tuesday, August 29 and Sunday, September 3 (that works out to about 17 bowls a day). So get there early — they open from 5.30pm each day.