It comes as a shock to learn that Punch Lane has ‘only’ been open since 1995. For very many years it was Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband’s favourite post-work hangout (until they moved to the opposite end of town) for a glass of wine, some wedges of cheese and often something much more substantial.

With its deep red leather club chairs and huge blackboard stating the available cheeses and wines by the glass, the restaurant looks like it’s always been there, on a laneway corner just at the start of Melbourne’s Chinatown precinct. With fellow foodie Madame Lapine in town it was a great excuse to head back after an absence of several years and try lunch.

Greedy Girl was delighted to see some familiar faces although, like her, they had been away and come back. Ordering an Italian rosato by the glass, we looked for a starter to share but when there were no obvious choices, we opted for hearty mains each and a couple of sides.

Greedy Girl took a special of the day – one of gluttonous husband’s all-time favourites, cassoulet (pictured above). Punch Lane was always noted for its confit duck so she had high hopes for this dish and wasn’t disappointed. It was quite light on the beans and all the meat elements had been cooked superbly. The sausage in particular was delish.

Madame Lapine chose the fish – roast baby snapper fillets with fennel, chorizo and pickled rhubarb. A generous portion, she commented the fish and fennel worked together well but thought the chorizo was too strong a flavour – although it went well with a slick of white bean puree on the plate.

Roast baby snapper fillets

Roast baby snapper fillets

We chose two sides – the incredibly crispy hand cut ‘Dobson’s’ chips and a cauliflower salad with pine nuts, barberry (apparently widely used in Persian cooking) and bottarga.

Dobson's chips

Dobson’s chips

Cauliflower salad

Cauliflower salad

It’s a comfortable spot, particularly in the winter where the timber and leather feel very cosy and the proximity to the open kitchen is warming. The wine list is extensive and there are always some interesting varieties available by the glass.

A note, however about the cost. After nearly six weeks in the US, this was Greedy Girl’s first outing back in her hometown and she was somewhat surprised to see that nearly every main course didn’t give much change from A$40. It made the tasting menu on offer – five courses where the diner puts themselves in the restaurant’s ‘hands’  for A$74 look like an absolute bargain. It’s certainly a very approachable way of trying more of chef Daniel Schelbert’s cooking.

Punch Lane

43 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Punch Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tagged under: , , , , , ,