Opening a restaurant is sort of like throwing a big black heavy ball down a polished runway and hoping for a strike: you can get lucky, but it relies a lot on practice and skill. So Port Melbourne's new Tenpin Kitchen have brought their best players to the game. The restaurant is the brainchild of a four-person partnership with some pretty great experience behind them, including ex-Chin Chin head chef, Ashley Richey.
Named after a proud and imposing 12-foot bowling pin (they haven't decided where to permanently display it yet), Tenpin Kitchen is home to honest, punchy southeast Asian flavours that strike all the right notes.
With a focus on fresh Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian-style fare, expect Tenpin Kitchen's course-free dishes to tumble out of the kitchen one by one."I think the best way to enjoy food is to share the table," says Richey. "So there's no strict set course structure." This fits the lively, laid-back atmosphere of the space — but more importantly, it means you can try a bit (read: a lot) of everything.
And try you should. From the fiery duck larb with a punch of chilli, mint, lime, roasted rice, cucumber and lettuce ($25) to the spice-packed, buttery coconut chicken curry ($24) and sweet 'n' sour Hervey Bay scallops with smoked trout, lemongrass and herbs ($6 each) , the menu is filled with rich, vibrant dishes that hero the southeast Asian flavours with pride. The drinks menu is a generous mix of local and European wines, Asian-inspired cocktails and beers.
Just like the menu, Tenpin Kitchen's interior is bursting with flair. From a golden mustard velvet couch to central communal tables, this interior is pretty pleasant on the eye. Designed by partner Lyndal Barnes, the chic combination of polished pale timber and an exposed industrial-style roof creates a warm, upmarket ambiance.
The upper level — soon to be open to the public — features a slim outdoor deck with a view of Port Melbourne beach. An 18-person private function room is also in the works. So head to Tenpin Kitchen this summer. Their team are bowling strikes.
Images: Tim Grey