BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW!
That’s pretty much how I feel when I think of Mr. Hive’s rebirth from ashes (formerly known as Maze by Gordon Ramsay). After surviving the initial combustion, the team behind Maze, minus their former employer was bought over by the Crown Management group and renamed themselves to Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar.
I know there has been a bit of flak when it was still Maze and they are still copping some less than satisfactory reviews, but I honestly love each and every single visit I’ve ever been to this place old and new.
As they say, food is a very subjective matter and to each its own as everyone has a differing opinion as to how food should taste, feel or look.
I’m just putting it out there, I like this place 🙂
The Boy and I gave the team a few weeks to settle into their new management and new routine. Not that they needed it much seeing as the kitchen crew behind the food remained the same, but the menu had changed nevertheless.
The venue had also been given a new fit-out and I was glad to see that the lovely ceiling light fixtures and bird murals adorning the walls from Maze remained untouched.
Since its opening, we have been there twice. Once for lunch and the second for desserts.
The head chef, John Lawson together with the head dessert chef (yes, there is one) Daniel Fletcher have together formed a formidable team and are making waves with their creations.
The restaurant has maintained its 2 or 3 course set lunch menu, 7 days a week at an affordable price (I think the last time we saw it on the board was $39 for 2 courses and $55 for 3 courses in March 2012 –> info not on the menu).
When the Boy and I went for lunch one Sunday, we weren’t told that the set lunch option was available and only noticed it when we saw the specials board on the way out *sigh*.
We did however drool at the items on the menu and proceeded to order an entree, two mains and two desserts.
We ordered the Crispy Little Pig ($18.00) as the name was way too cute not to have it put on our list of “must eats”.
I’m so glad we did. This was the best dish for us this visit, and everything that was on the plate was a textural genius. The watermelon pieces provided a sweet soft crunch which melded delicately with the crispy shell encasing the crumbed pieces of pork (from the pig’s head and tail). The pickled vegetables matched well with the extremely tender and fatty meat as well. So good!
Pan Fried Snapper, Smoked Egg & Wild Greens ($32.00)
For mains, the Boy had the snapper which was cooked beautifully. We especially loved the playfulness of the crumbed egg yolk lightly sprinkled across the snapper skin as if it were gold dust! I so want to try this at home!
Saltbush Lamb Belly, Peas & Mint ($30.00)
I of course, as usual went with the lamb offering. I did find the lamb to be a little mix bag. Some parts of the lamb were very tender as it had been braised for a few hours, but there were one or two pieces which were a bit tough. Despite that, I did eat every single piece of food on that plate minus the peas. I really really dislike peas, oh well, the Boy was happy to have them. I wished it came with a minted Parisienne mash! Now THAT would have been smashing.
Lemon Tart, Lemon Sorbet, “Marco Pierre White” ($18.00)
We were most excited about desserts and asked if we could sit at the “Dessert Bar” for it, but were politely informed that the Dessert Bar would only be open in the evenings. Thus began my plan to get a group together to enjoy the luxurious Dessert Bar tasting menu on offer.
First things first, when I saw that there was a dish named after Marco, there was no way in hell I would have left the premises without eating it.
The tart arrived and oh boy! It certainly was a very tarty tart and one would have no doubt about the generosity of the lemon used to make this. I did really like it and couldn’t help going back for more of the sour torture!
Mrs Hive’s Chocolate Bar, Peanuts & Caramel ($18.00)
Of course the second dessert we had to order was the chocolate bar! Why would we have given it a missed! It was dense, it was rich and it was full of peanuts and came topped with a peanut butter ice-cream. Yes! Peanut Butter Ice-Cream (Hannah, I’m looking at you 😛 )
Anyway, between the richness of the chocolate bar and the tartness of the lemon tart, the Boy and I went back and forth between the two desserts arguing about which was best. In the end, the chocolate bar won (only because the Boy thought the Lemon Tart was a bit too much on the acidic side of things).
(3 Course Dessert Degustation for $45, Matched Wines an Extra $25) – After 6pm only
As mentioned, when the wait staff informed me that there was an actual tasting menu option to dine at the Dessert Bar on evenings, my mind started ticking and the wheels went into hyperdrive.
I got together some like-minded sweet tooth friends, and off we went! I could only invite 4 other friends as the bar can only take up to a maximum of 6 people and they don’t do bookings.
In total, there were 7 of us, but Taz piked in the end because
work was more important than desserts he ended up working until 11pm that night. So it was up to Azzie, Al, Chris, Adrian, the Boy and I to save the day!
As we were ushered to the bar stools of the Dessert Bar, we were greeted by Daniel himself who told us, that we were going to be his very first group of diners who came specifically for the dessert degustation. We told him we were doing a reverse dinner that night, which he thought was a brilliant idea!
The program for the night was easy, 3 surprise courses for $45 and a dessert wine matching for an additional $25. Obviously Azzie, Chris and I went for the dessert wine matching option 🙂
I LOVE STICKY AND SWEET WINES! Alright, sorry, I got a little carried away 😛
Sitting right at the bar was fun, as we could scrutinise, chat and plain ‘ol just watch the chefs do their ‘thang. I’m not sure if it helped, but Adrian and I let out tiny oohs and aahs every single time we saw a perfect quenelle being scooped up and set on a plate before it flew out to guests dining at the restaurant.
Rhubarb Compote, Yoghurt Mousse, Szechuan Ice Cream
The first course was such an eye opener. Never would I have thought that Szechuan peppercorns would work in desserts, but it did! The savoury factor of the peppercorn provided a lovely tang to the smoothness of the mousse and sweet tartness of the rhubarb. The crunchiness of the crumbed biscuits provided a nice rounded finish to the textures on the dish.
For the second course, Daniel asked if we minded having alternate dishes of desserts. I think from the enthusiastic shouts of yes, he knew we were a mad bunch of food lovers. Either that or we were already high from sugar 😛
White Chocolate, Mango, Basil Ice Cream, Coconut was hands down our favourite dessert of the night. Adrian and I described it as a tropical island. It was just so damn tasty. My favourite bit of it all? The basil ice-cream. So light and so refreshing.
The Boy had the Ricotta Cheesecake, Yuzu, Ginger, Nuts & Seeds. I loved the smoothness of the cheesecake as well as the lightness of it from the ricotta. The yuzu and the ginger certainly provided the balance with the zing and the ping.
The Praline Souffle, Jasmine & Coco Nib Ice Cream was light, airy and fluffy. The flavour of the Jasmine tea certainly came wafting up like a perfume as the spoon was dipped into the delicate centre.
It wouldn’t have been a proper dessert degustation if we didn’t end with chocolate. So, ended with chocolate we did by having alternate drops of the two most sinful chocolate desserts available in the house.
The Chocolate Fondant, Cardamom Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce was very enjoyable. Just look at that ooze coming out of the fondant. The cute tiny circles of salted caramel sauce were ecstasy. The Cardamom ice-cream reminded me of the dessert with clove meringue at Cumulus Inc.
I like the incorporation of spices and herbs in desserts! Makes for an interesting combination on the palate.
We also had the Mrs Hive’s Chocolate Bar, Peanuts & Caramel, which was just as good as we remembered.
To top of the amazing dessert degustation, we finished off with a little bottle of Chocolate Milk & Salted Caramel Truffles, which were so fun to eat and drink. We were also each given a Goodie Bag of Sweets & Jubes.
But the night didn’t end there! Daniel invited us eager beavers in for a kitchen tour of the whole restaurant and bar. It was such a lovely treat for us all! We couldn’t help but exclaim at everything he pointed out.
The kitchen is massive, as it not only caters to the restaurant and bar, but also to the guests of Crown Metropol Hotel. The breakfast buffet area seats around 250 hotel guests at any one point! I can’t even begin to imagine the prep work that goes into that shift.
I love a good kitchen tour and this reminded me of the last recent one I had with Brett Graham (of The Ledbury) at Circa! I am a lucky duck!
You can also read Agnes’s recap of the Dessert Degustation if you like 🙂
*Disclaimer: All food ratings & review are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality at the time of visit
Food/ Cuisine: Modern Australian, Dessert Bar
Dining Style: Restaurant
Overall Food Rating (Based on the Dining style): 7.5/10 (for food) and 8/10 (for desserts)
Restaurant ambiance: 8/10
Service/ Attitude: 7.25/10 (lunch service) and 8.5/10 (dessert bar)
Value for money: 7.5/10 (lunch service) and 8.5/10 (dessert degustation menu)
Breakfast: Monday to Sunday, 6:30am to 10:30am
Lunch: Monday to Sunday, 12:00pm to 2:30pm
Dinner & Dessert Bar: Monday to Sunday, 6:00pm to 10:30pm
Level 1, Crown Metropol (Crown Casino)
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
Tel: (03) 9292 8300
How to get there: