Walking into Academy Kitchen & Bar, we were warmly greeted by the friendly waitresses and informed that we would be seated at one of the best tables in the house. It was a cooler Thursday evening and we were there to try out the new Autumn menu. We had a choice of either picking our own dishes or leaving it up to the masterful hands of head chef, Will Manning. We of course love surprises so went for the latter.
The first dishes to come out were the pumpkin gnocchi with butternut pumpkin sauce, pickled shimeji and crispy onion rings, and the salmon terrine with dill creme fraiche, saffron aioli, caperberries and sorrel. The pumpkin gnocchi was light and flavoursome, and coupled with the creamy butternut sauce topped with the crunchy onion rings, it felt like the perfect winter indulgence dish. In tasting the salmon, it was the saffron aioli that stood out for us and had us wanting more. Both considerable sized dishes, we were surprised that these were just part of the ‘snacks and starters’. By the time we had finished these, we both agreed that it could have easily been our main meal, especially the gnocchi.
Next out of the kitchen were the two pasta dishes from the pasta and risotto section – the squid ink tagliatelle with soft shell crab, chilli, fennel and lemon, and the goats cheese tortellini with ratatouille and tomato bubbles. Lucky we love carbs. Now out of all the dishes we were most eager to try, the squid ink tagliatelle was high up on the list. Soft shell crab and squid ink pasta – how could you go wrong? If you have been dining out in Melbourne recently, squid ink does seem to be popular around town and it’s not difficult to see why. The squid ink pasta makes the dish looks so exotic and unique that we couldn’t wait to dig in. We loved the freshness of the cripsy soft shell crab but for us, the squid ink wasn’t as rich a flavour as we have come to expect from squid ink pasta but did well in complementing the crab. We loved the presentation of the goats cheese tortellini and the flavour was just as good. There was the rich flavour of the goats cheese which perfectly matched the fresher tasting flavours of the ratatouille.
As full as we were after all these carbs, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the Ricotta terrine with lemon mousse and pistachios for dessert. We have never had a ricotta terrine before, but as we love cheese we knew that it would be a winner, and it was! There was a unique texture to the terrine that initially we were hesitant about, but by the end of scoffing the last spoonful we were wanting more.
Academy Kitchen & Bar is the first solo venture for Will Manning who has previously part-owned Prospect Espresso. All the pastas are made in-house and it is an all day venture. Opening for breakfast right through to dinner, you can stop in anytime. We loved the modern dining space with wooden tables, dark timbers and exposed brick walls. The bar has a fresh, stylish feel to it and almost makes feels like you’ve stepped into some hip New York bar. We’d say that it would be the perfect afternoon spot for a cheeky drink with afternoon specials of $10 cocktail specials and $6 schooners.
Where: 318 Bridge Road
When: Tue to Fri 7:00 am – 11:00 pm, Sat to Sun 9:00 am – 11:00 pm.
Visit the Academy Kitchen & Bar website.