A hidden world to captivate the attention of those with a love for books and simple but good food.
According to one part of MoMo & Coco, life is not life without books. Damn the advent of “e-books.” Nothing will ever compete with that scent of years and memories from a book rediscovered, that rustle of pages on a rainy afternoon, nor the beauty of a bound volume that takes pride as a heirloom-esque treasure. That one part of us could therefore barely contain her excitement when we heard that The Moat had opened in a little hide-away nook under the corner intersecting the State Library and the Wheeler Centre. Striding across the country club-like fake grass entrance, one will enter a subterranean space with a distinctive feel of a closeted bookish world. Bluestone walls plastered with murals of bookshelves lead to a main dining area ablaze in speakeasy rouge red and furnished with warm oak tables betopped by tealight candles and lamps. At night, it’s a somewhat raucous place, but during the day, far more subdued. In either case, it’s like a step back in time.
MoMo & Coco visited for an after-work dinner. The shared-plate-style a la carte menu possessed the melded Mediterranean-Middle Eastern disposition very common in Melbourne, as well as a certain unspoken sensibility that would delight the Melbourne hipster. On our visit, the slivers of Veal Carpaccio ($18) embroidered with an interesting mix of fennel pollen, caperberries and pink grapefruit was a delightful thing of zingy freshness. Likewise, the generous Quinoa Salad ($16) tossed with tomato, cucumber, mint and shredded chicken, a dish that demanded to be our work lunch time and time again. The weightier fare of Meatballs ($18) were a little less generous in proportion, but tasty in its wholesome, rustic simplicity. Each could have easily constituted an individual’s meal, rather than being shared. But, we loved that flexibility.
There were 3 desserts available at The Moat. MoMo & Coco tried two, but in accordance with our blog philosophy, we shall feature the one that we loved best. Bypass therefore the somewhat average custard pots and poached fruit desserts, and head straight for the “Valrhona Chocolate Earl Grey Tart, Lemon Curd Shot”($14). Although there were no discernible Earl Grey tones, the chocolate mousse-cake that straddled a sponge base was hedonistically rich…so rich that even we insatiable sweet-tooths failed to eat it all! Accompanying it was a shot glass of excellent zesty lemon curd wigged with a bouffant of orange persian fairy floss. Taken all together — the rich chocolate, acidic curd, airy floss — one could not ask for more. Simplicity done well.
Service was minimal, think cafe-style rather than restaurant-style service. Friendly and timely. Just don’t expect them to wait on you.
The Moat is a delightful little venue. It succeeds in its simple agenda. Somewhere between cafe and restaurant, it offers homely fare with an edge, a dessert of dreams, amiable service, all enclosed within a venue that buzzes with verve and yet also has the quiet poignancy of a library. It is guaranteed to captivate the attention of Melbournians with a love for books and a love for hidden worlds. Your Dessert Correspondents consider The Moat as a particularly ideal proposition in this dreary autumn/winter season.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: The Moat Bar and Cafe, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne CBD, Vic 3000.
- ☑ Budget: $$
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Restaurant dessert. Neo-classical Mediterranean/European.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Valrhona Chocolate Earl Grey Tart, Lemon Curd Shot.”/li>
- ☑ The short and sweet story: A hidden world to captivate the attention of those with a love for books and simple but good food.