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Food, Wine


[tweetmeme] I don’t really know what I was thinking before my visit to Livebait. Scepticism was up there, along with a definite low expectation. I mean, Livebait does reside in the Docklands – hardly renowned for its culinary heavyweights. But that aside, every restaurant must be judged on its own merits and not on its geography.

Livebait is located in the Docklands Newquay area and, as the name suggests, the focus is primarily on fresh seafood. The menu is dressed up under the guise of Japanese fusion which, in reality, means a few vegetables get the tempura treatment, some chicken is given a bath then grill teriyaki style and some fish is served raw. Not really an example of fusion cooking à la Taxi Dining Room or Pan Asian.

For entrée we ordered a half of a dozen of natural oysters with fresh lime ($15), prawns sautéed in garlic, olive oil, parsley, white wine & chilli ($18.5), tuna sashimi with sesame and mirin dressing ($16.5), Tempura battered California rolls with soya wasabi sauce ($16), a calamari, apple, cucumber, mint & coriander salad with palm sugar and chilli dressing ($17) and half shell scallops with smoked trout, coriander, lemongrass, crushed nuts & chilli ($23). The tuna sashimi was good with fresh, melt in your mouth tuna, however the dressing was literally mirin in one bowl and sesame sauce in another. I don’t think the chef was up all night on that one. The scallops were okay, with a salty pop provided by the fish roe garnish. The rolls were fresh although otherwise uninspiring and the prawns were a shocker. Serving prawns whole is fine, however they need to be fresh. These weren’t and as a result the meat was tainted with a battery acid-like taste from the head and gut. Really unappetising and an issue considering I ordered prawns for my main.

Wine provided a welcome palate cleansing option courtesy of a lovely 2008 Skillogalee Gewürztraminer from the Clare Valley in SA ($45) to consume with our entrées and a punchy 2007 Coldstream Hills Merlot  from the Yarra Valley ($69) to accompany the mains.

With the arrival of the mains, I was somewhat puzzled to discover that my salt and pepper Port Lincoln king prawns ($38) looked, and unfortunately tasted, exactly like the prawn starter. Two names, same dish. Unbelievable. A steak, ordered medium-rare by one of our entourage, was received well-done. Upon complaining the dish was promptly sent back to the kitchen only to remain there for the entire length of the other diners’ meal. When we continued to ask of its whereabouts, the manager asked the steakless punter to accompany him to the kitchen. A really bad move, let me tell you. On arrival at the pass, she was informed that the wait staff had made a mistake and put the docket through at medium, so as far as the chef was concerned, he was cooking a medium steak. An amateurish mistake, made by a restaurant manager who should know better.

Other dishes ordered such as the lobster tail served with calamari and seafood in a coconut red curry ($56) and chicken teriyaki with crispy noodles and chop suey ($28) looked okay, but not spectacular. Despite all this, the biggest disappointment of the night for me was the Japanese-style tempura fish fillets served with togarashi spiced potato, seaweed salad and soy & sesame sauce ($32). This dish was literally bland, flavourless fish (probably hake) served with bland, flavourless potato cakes. It honestly looked and tasted like it had been purchased from the local fish and chip shop. Really disappointing for a restaurant charging a premium for its dishes.

Dessert came courtesy of a poached pear tart with white chocolate ice cream, port wine syrup and toffee tuile ($14.5) and unbelievably by a bombe Alaska ($18)! Did I miss something, when did they come back in fashion? Regardless, it was well executed and was promptly devoured by the punters.

To be honest I wasn’t going to review Livebait. I thought it was an evening only made great by the company and not by the service or quality of food. For an evening that cost in excess of $900, I really would have expected something to remember, for all the right reasons. However as it stands, Livebait is overpriced and lofty in its ambitions, playing in a price range that is not reflective of its food.

55B Newquay Promenade
Docklands, Victoria

p: 03 9642 1500
e: info@livebait.com.au

Livebait on Urbanspoon




8 thoughts on “Livebait

  1. i have been there 7 times in the last 2 months entertaining clients and friends and i can honestly say that i havent experienced what you say you did.

    over the last 12 months that i have been going there i have gotten t6o know John the manager and Sam the assistant and i and my guests have found them delightfull.

    the Bomba Laska you speak of is devine and does it really matter what is in fashion ? as i read your review i said to my friends , This guy is wanna be reviewer or a failed chef. guess what ? you are both.

    go away and leave a good restaurant to do what it does. people seem to be voting with their feet and every time i go there it is full. that says enough for me.

    Posted by Louie J | December 31, 2009, 9:46 am
    • This review sounds a little as I remember Livebait so obviously little has changed. I already voted with my feet and will not be back.

      I visited a few years ago for a wedding anniversary. The night was nice but the food was pretty average given what we paid. I left disappointed and will not be back.

      Was our 3rd attempt at docklands restaurants and was the last until there is evidence they improve in both service and quality. Is unfortunate as I love the outlook.

      Posted by Matt | January 11, 2010, 5:03 pm
    • We dined at Livebait on Monday night. The place was almost empty (maximum of 6 tables, mostly 2’s and 4’s). It took 40 mins to deliver our starters and nearly an hour to deliver our mains. The food was great, but this is one of the most expensive and least value-for -money meals we have ever had. At $90 per person – very few drinks, at $15 a glass of $5,00 a bottle wine you must be joking – for a starter and a main this place is horrendous. To add insult to injury, we booked under the “Split the Bill” scheme, and were not told that we had to have a main and a desert to qualify, thinking that 2 courses would be ok like the majority of other STB places.

      The waitress was new, but friendly and reasonably efficient. The manager was friendly, and of course the view is great. However Docklands is nothing more than sad. For a seafood restaurant, the wine selection, particularly the whites, was dismal and seriously overpriced.

      Posted by Anonymous | August 23, 2011, 12:36 pm
  2. Hi,

    Hope all is well. Yeh, Livebait or basically any restaurant along the Docklands promenade is not worth going to. Overpriced, boring food aimed at tourists sums it up nicely. Such a shame given its location.

    Speak soon x

    Posted by Stella (fellow foodie) | January 2, 2010, 8:40 am
  3. Also went to Livebait about a year ago for a work lunch, one of the guys ordered the steak, which we all thought was a mistake given it was a seafood restaurant, and his medium rare steak came out well done…

    Posted by Leon | January 2, 2010, 8:57 am
  4. I must say your running commentary of the night is spot on!

    I must say i was also gob smacked at the over priced Shaw & Smith at $64 a bottle……are you serious!

    Thank goodness for the company otherwise we might have walked out after the French Martini!

    Posted by LilyandRoo | January 4, 2010, 8:07 pm
  5. I haven’t tried bombe Alaska, and must confess I would dearly love to! Is it not considered fashionable fare when dining out?

    Posted by Snarkattack | January 7, 2010, 1:11 pm
  6. Visited this restaurant last night and have to agree with you. Was very disappointed. What was described on the menu as ‘Coconut King prawns (2)’ was actually 4 regular prawns with nary a taste of coconut in sight. Thai Seafood Hot Pot was bland and tasted more of shells than anything else. Our stir fried veges as a side were supposed to be done in ginger/chili/soy but were done in butter/pepper. We brought up this last one with the waitress and were told she would check with the kitchen. We never saw her again. My fish of the day (Whiting) just didn’t taste good. We had been planning to have dessert but weren’t brave enough to risk it in the end. Won’t be back.

    Posted by Brad | June 13, 2010, 9:52 pm

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