The Noble Experiment has for a long time been a stand-out choice in my world for fine dining at affordable prices in effortlessly trendy Smith St, Collingwood. The beautiful thing about this restaurant and bar is that you could get away with a fancy night out or a casual dinner and drinks, bringing anyone from your Mum to the future love of your life along with you and whether you are a fussy eater or a legitimate food snob you would find something that would tickle your fancy. This is a spot that could work equally as well as a special occasion family dinner, a casual week-night feast, a romantic first date or cocktail evening with friends.
This is a restaurant that allows its chefs to get experimental without getting wanky. You won’t find dry ice or smoke floating off your food, nor will your food come served on a plank of driftwood… but, you will find gorgeous, experimental and unique flavours delivered well and plated up perfectly. And for those of you who enjoy a little tipple, you can drink cocktails out a bathtub (literally, I don’t even kid) or enjoy a fancy drink served with gelato as part of the presentation (all cocktails should come with gelato, right?!)
The Bath Tub Gin is an ode to the prohibition era, where alcohol was made in bath tubs, and this quirky cocktail comes with a quite literal bathtub complete with a rubber duck. Taste wise, this gin with tonic water, lillet rose, pomegranate liqueur, lemongrass syrup and citrus, topped with a spiced rhubarb and pink grapefruit ‘air’ (or bubbles) is an ode to a rose bubblebath in a completely non-offensive way. It tastes soapy, as soap would if we wanted to eat it… I guess you have to drink it to understand this sentiment!
The venue consists of three main areas. The front dining area is a light-filled eating space which consists of two large bench-seat tables overlooking the street, or smaller tables and some very decadent looking couches. There is more dining towards the back along with a well-stocked bar, in a darker, more ambient section. The back wall is my favourite feature, with a wallpapered bookshelf that hides the entrance to the toilets. The decor is very prohibition style, cosy but still cool. The third area is an upstairs cocktail lounge.
A stand-out dish is the sea scallops with goats curd, cauliflower and pickled wood ear mushrooms, where the flavours and textures couple together perfectly. Don’t share this dish, keep those juicy scallops for yourself.
The fried green tomatoes were like an unexpected treat- crispy battered slices of green tomato topped with curd and basil; it was like a naughty caprese salad, a dish that would go perfectly with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A sous-vide corn fed duck breast with duck skin crumble, candied radicchio, balsamic and beetrot gel and parsnips with a cranberry jus is almost too pretty to eat, yet incredibly moreish. The duck is ‘melt in your mouth’ perfection and the sides are experimental elements that take your tastebuds to the next level.
As always, dessert is a shining star in a menu full of starry experiments. The warm fudge chocolate brownie is light, airy and fudgy, almost like a pudding and comfort food at its very finest and perfectly paired with a decadent burnt fig and honeycomb ice-cream. In a perfect world, we would eat this every day. The beetroot parfait and passionfruit curd were equally as enjoyable and perfect fruity desserts to end a meal on a balmy evening.
Best of all, Noble Experiment offers bookings and a chefs tasting menu at only $60 a head. Perfect for a fancy Saturday evening, special occasion weeknight or a ‘just because I want fabulous food’ nothing occasion.
Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined at The Noble Experiment as a guest at a VIP Tasting evening, but has happily dined there twice before out of her own pocket!
I hope you had a nobly experimental (and delicious) weekend.