Pei Modern - Culinary Bliss at Top End of Collins
Pei Modern is an impressive culinary experience in an upmarket part of Melbourne next to The Sofitel on the top end of Collins Street. If this culture, fashion and Melbourne food blog has lots of positive things to say in this review its because I left happy and wanting to return. Again and again...
Pei Modern is the work of Mark Best from Marque fame in Sydney (voted Sydney's best restaurant in 2011 and 3 hatted) together with Peter Bartholomew and David Mackintosh of Movida fame . With many runs on the culinary board Mark has entered the competitive world of Melbourne fine dining and has already scored a century before lunch here.
The name of Pei Modern is a tribute to I.M. Pei who designed The Louvre's glass pyramid (and who designed the Collins Street building that Pei Modern resides in). I would say even The Louvre's Mona Lisa would come to life at the sublime dishes at Pei Modern.
In a fabulous precinct at 45 Collins Street, one can walk around to Pei Modern neighbouring The Sofitel. With one of the best hotels in Melbourne next door Pei Modern attracts plenty of business and professional types. The outdoor area is a great spot to enjoy the precinct's upper crust ambience.
Pei Modern is certainly modern in it's fit out. The use of timber is awesome in terms of walls and seating (with cushions). A board runs across the back wall with menu options duly written in large writing. A mirror adorns the side of the room (with a trendy effect) and there are classic white tiles on the floor. Lighting was used sparsely for effect and it was almost dim with spotlights punctuating (it was a grey Melbourne day when I visited the first time).
The dining space is initially restricted for breakfast but opens up into a large space with more diners. In the main dining area one can appreciate an open kitchen with professional chefs.
So here I came for breakfast already impressed with many of the cafes and restaurants in the precinct, eager to compare. Of course I intend to come to Pei Modern for lunch or dinner at some stage. I'm keen to try the Roast Rabbit or the Pork Jowl or Salt-crusted Swede Riverina Lamb, not to mention the Duck Breast, Hanger Steak or the Pork and Fennel sausages.
It's rare that you fancy most things on the menu and want to try them all. But even the breakfast menu at Pei Modern brims with imaginative offerings. The influences appeared to be European. Head Chef Matt Germanchis used to work at Movida and Movida Aquis (of which I'm a big fan).
The menu at Pei Modern impressed me from the "get go". I'm a man who loves a good black pudding - as my heritage is English. Having enjoyed some black puddings around Melbourne I was keen to compare. The black pudding comes on sourdough with a poached egg and garnish.
I was close to choosing the Cuca Sardines, Relish and Toast or the Omelette, Chard and Cheddar on Sourdough - which I enjoyed on my next visit. Sublime large sardines with a sweetness in the relish. Great balance of flavour.
Then on my third visit I enjoyed the popular (as I saw many ordered) Bacon and Mustard Hightop Sandwich for only $8.
The Mushrooms and Goats Curd on Sourdough also looks enticing. On the counter are pastries and croissants and the like.
Everything I've ordered at Pei Modern has been superb. I'm a big fan of the Black pudding as it was so intense in flavour and a hearty breakfast. This black pudding was moist and had a great tang to it. I was pleased there was a good portion of it - note to some others not to hold out on your black pudding. The egg was perfectly poached and the combination was sublime. Yes, this was a premier black pudding on the Melbourne culinary scene. Notwithstanding the sourdough was also superb. Pei Modern bake their own bread and churn their own butter.
The coffee is also sublime. Pei Modern serves up Single Origins and blends on its La Marzocco machine.
Service is excellent at Pei Modern. After all the Maitre D' Ainslie Lubbock has just been awarded the Australian Gourmet Traveller 2013 Maitre D' of the Year.
The waiters are professionals who are friendly and engaging, but also adept and flexible. Let's face it - the business crowd is not always the easiest. While I was there a few suits were asking for all sorts of bespoke tailored breakfast variations and the waiters handled it with aplomb. I admit I am also a suit, but tend to stick to options as they appear on the menu.
Pei Modern was rated at number 29 in Australia's Top 100 Restaurants by Australian Gourmet Traveller and it seems a good fit.
Pei Modern is a great place to meet people and experience up market dining at still reasonable prices. And there's a lot to be said for that.
Check out the website at http://peimodern.com.au