When the east dances in a spin of startling creativity with the west.
Melbourne’s Bourke Street is the city’s shopping backbone, with the more notable dining venues located on Little Bourke and Little Collins Streets that run parallel to it. However, there are a few long-established culinary significants on Bourke Street, and increasingly, a few surprises. A relative newcomer opening in early 2011, Heirloom is fitted out with bright and bare drop lights that highlight an industrial palette of silver, moody blacks and stark reds. Its menu direction is a marriage of French and Japanese influences. With a relaxed, casual-straddling-fine-dining ambience, Heirloom was the venue of choice for dessert, following a fufilling dinner of hearty lamb rigatoni and swimmer crab spaghettini with corporate friends at the reliably traditional and refined The Italian.
Heirloom has a most curious dessert menu, one that elegantly fuses Eastern flavours to Western dessert foundations, and changes seasonally, listing four options available, as well as a lighter fifth option of a macaron tasting plate for the not-so-very-sweeth-tooth person. On our first visit, we selected two irresistibles. The first irresistible sampled was the “Burnt Butter Icecream and Caramel Popcorn” ($16). A spectacular autumnal creation of gold, cream and browns that reminded us of the beautiful countryside. Perched on a bed of caramel popcorn that perfectly evoked childhood days at carnivals, two large wedges of sticky honey-and-pine-nut nougat conjured up images of cows grazing on a farm field. Accompanying dollops of delicious burnt butter icecream resembled machine-turned haystacks. The irresistible was further decorated by (unedible?) golden corn shoots stuck to the plate with salted caramel drops, and a few slightly strange opqaue droplets of a piquant wasabi-like taste.
The second irresistible was a stunner in all aspects – taste, flavour, presentation, price. May we introduce the “Chocolate and Soy Bean Blancmange” ($15). By contrast to the golden wheat fields of the first irresistible, this second irresistible evoked a lush rainforest. The rather old-fashioned blancmange was given a contemporary lift by being lightly flavoured with soy bean. Forming a cream-coloured hill, the blancmange was surrounded by a luxuriant shrubbery undergrowth of rich chocolate and subtle honey icecream, a mist of malted foam, and a forest floor of grounded chocolate biscuits. This was overlaid by two elegant branches of crunchy Poky biscuits, dipped in chocolate and smothered in nuts, perhaps to resemble typical lichen-covered foliage.
Departing from the annoying trend adopted by an overwhelming number of restaurants that serve dessert creations bordering on the microscopic scale, or with a generosity befitting the depression-era, MoMo & Coco warn that Heirloom’s sweet irresistibles are unsually large-sized, which is a most wonderful thing in itself. However, MoMo & Coco would recommend that it is best to share…even if it looks/tastes too good to do so. Fusion cuisine means fabulous or fatal, but because it is experimental, innovative and unique, usually and nonetheless, fun. In this case, Heirloom’s irresistible desserts were worthy heirlooms indeed…hmmmm….irresistible…
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Heirloom, 131 Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD, Vic 3000.
- ☑ Budget: $$-$$$
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Restaurant desserts. Modern French-Japanese fusion.
- ☑ Must-eat: Popcorn nougat dessert.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: When the east dances in a spin of startling creativity with the west.