[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
p: 03 9642 1500