Restaurant Review: Pei Modern, Melbourne

A few months ago, I found myself in Melbourne, and we were looking for somewhere to eat before going to see Geoffrey Rush in “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”.

Even though it was only about 5:30pm, Movida, which had opened at 5pm, was full (both Movidas!). Likewise, there was a line down the stairs and out the door of Mamacita. Whoah! What is it with this town and popular restaurants?

What about Pei Modern? Named after the famous architect, whose design was visible from the restaurant, it’s in a funny location, a little arcade outside of the Sofitel Hotel. I’d read good reviews so we stopped on by. We opted just to hang out in the casual area rather than the formal dining area, which suited us fine.

To start with, they offered a cocktail menu with about 4 variations of Negronis. Considering this is my favourite cocktail at the moment, you could imagine how happy I was.

The other kicker, for a Sydneysider, is that this restaurant is branded as a creation of Mark Best. Best’s Marque Restaurant in Sydney is one of our most renown. I’ve managed to get in for lunch one time. I liked it, but found some of the flavours unusual, and want to try it for dinner. Though when will that be? It’s a full commitment, a special occasion meal, planned in advance (as reservations are scarce) and pricy.

So, what’s not to like about a casual version of one of Sydney’s most famous chefs where normally you’d have to plan and reserve and here we waltzed in to try a selection of fast and absolutely delicious creations of his… Ortiz Shortbread and Parmesan Custard… Wood Grilled Prawn and Pork Salt (a new definition of ‘savoury’)… I think we tried a few more than this (the brandade croquettes, I think, and I think it was some sort of duck pancake), but in my estimation, these are top-notch, top-quality creative dishes from one of Australia’s best, in a casual atmosphere with reasonable prices and… negronis.


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