Shed 5 - Mediterranean Sophistication on South Wharf
Shed 5 is a highly impressive Mediterranean restaurant (breaking news: now closed) with strong Greek influences on South Wharf. It occupies one of the iconic sheds that is a great part of Melbourne's maritime history.
Shed 5 has great pedigree with Head Chef Vas Donoudes a successful chef in Europe as well as at Cicciolina and Church St Enoteca previously, now focussing on his Greek roots. The owner Stan Sarris is also restaurant royalty having established successful restaurants in Sydney such as Banc (3 hats), Post and Prime.
Aussies love a shed and this is a shed with sophistication. Shed 5 has a relaxed warm and inviting atmosphere but is a professional and classic dining experience. The ambience is enhanced by the large open bar, open kitchen where you can see the wood oven action, a large number 5 on the wall celebrating the history of this former shed, the heritage listed private dining room (the old wharfie station), the use of 120 year old floor boards, American Oak tables and spaciousness created by the high ceilings.
As part of a launch with other bloggers we were treated to some of the classic dishes of Shed 5. My opinion is that Shed 5 serves up some outstanding and creative cuisine and not predictable Mediterranean or Greek fare. In fact they celebrate regional cooking and their own take on traditional dishes. It's the sort of place I look forward to returning to with friends.
Most people visiting a Mediterranean restaurant would expect lamb, seafood and chicken dishes to be done well. To this end Shed 5 is exceptional. A key, apart from the skill of the chef, is their high tech wood oven. This wood oven is a combination of gas and wood. I understand there is something similar at Rockpool nearby. The temperature is set with precision, which is very cool. If it dips below the set temperature the gas can kick in until more wood is added to bring it up.
The wood oven is used for most dishes and explains the exquisite flavours of the dishes. Concentrated cooking for short periods brings spectacular results. Also to note, Shed 5 doesn't do wood oven pizzas - as you can use a wood oven for so much more.
We sampled several dishes from the menu, but mention should be made of the Shared Menu option for diners. At $55 a head the Sharing Menu is a great option. The Sharing Menu features some of the signature dishes of the restaurant including the Flatbread and Fava Puree, the N'Duja and Mozzarella Croquettes, the Slow Roasted Lamb Neck, and the Goats Milk Crema Dessert.
For starters we began with the Flatbread and Fava Puree with fried chickpeas, shallots and hazelnuts. This dish was moorish. I didn't find the puree overpowering but all elements combined brilliantly together. The crunch of the nuts and the creaminess of the puree was superb.
The N'Duja and Mozzarella Croquettes with oregano and rosemary aoli were sublime, crispy on the outside and so creamy inside. But the triumph was the quality of the filling which had some kick.
The Cyprian Lamb and Pork Meatballs with tomato and cinnamon sauce and truffled pecorino, were also top notch. These meatballs were meaty and cooked well, and not at all dry. Of course the sauce is a key and this sauce was superb with the richness of the tomato and slight spice of the cinnamon.
The Saganaki Cheese with grilled onions, roasted peppers and barberry was also moorish. This dish reminded me of my summer BBQ's when I typically throw some haloumi on the BBQ. I love that oven cooked salty cheese. Very satisfying, particularly when done with vegetables to accompany.
All Starters were of a high quality and extremely satisfying. The Slow cooked W.A. Octopus was also brilliant, served with saffron kipflers, capers, and sorrel mayo. This was a far cry from simple calamari rings served by some Greek-inspired restaurants - the octopus was superbly cooked and featured a sophisticated mayo. Cudos for a Mediterranean restaurant doing seafood well.
Also interesting was the Smoked eel, ocean trout, sherry rilletes with capers and crostini. An excellent dish which also features on the Bar menu (s does the puree and the croquettes).
Then on to the mains. King Green Prawns with barrel aged feta, tomatoes and sorrel was a triumph. Juicy tasty prawns. Excellent with aged feta.
The highlight of the evening was the Slow roasted lamb neck that just melted in the mouth and you found yourself just wanting more. This lamb is cooked for 12 hours at 100 degrees in sherry. Sublime. The genius was in the accompanying dates, pinenuts and capers. The sweetness of the lamb with extra sweetness of the dates, the saltiness of the capers and the crunch of the pinenuts. A cracker combination.
Shed 5 uses quality stoneware plates in its service which enhance the earthiness factor and helps keep the meals warm.
The Wine List is extensive and high quality. It's no surprise as Stan was reportedly the first restauranteur introduce the Somellier to restaurants in Australia. The list features Victorian wines as well as quality wines from the rest of the world.
Shed 5 also does a great chicken dish, the Bannockburn Half Chicken with green raisins, pinenuts, and roasted chestnut dolmades. The flavours in this chicken were sublime. Also cooked in the wood oven, for 16 minutes, this was an explosion of juicy chicken permeated with the sweetness of raisins, the crunch of pinenuts and the brillian accompaniment of the dolmades. These dolmades are excellent in their own right and superb with the chicken.
The desserts were spectacular. Some restaurants fall away when it comes to dessert but Shed 5 offers outstanding desserts. The Spiced halva semifreddo with quince sorbet, salted caramel, and ricotta doughnut was sublime. I admit I love a hit of salted caramel and a good semifreddo. A great combination and balance of flavours with the sweet and the spicy.
The Goats Milk Crema with walnut baklava, chocolate and coffee sorbet and metaxa jelly is a signature dish of note. The Italians love their panna cotta and this is a kind of Greek panna cotta. Absolutely sensational.
South Wharf is emerging as an awesome restaurant precinct. It's easy to get to with large car parks and taxi access nearby or catch the train to either Southern Cross or Flinders St. Shed 5 is a superb restaurant that stimulates and excites and honours its historical site with its creativity, passion and flair.