Northern Light Shines in Collingwood
Northern Light is a bright new star on the Melbourne dining scene with its unpretentious attitude and food that punches above its weight. These are foodie people who know their trade and who wow diners with a sense of playfulness and bold flavours (that are balanced and never overwhelming).
The chef Adam Liston (ex Hare and Grace and The Commoner) and Glen Bagnara (previously at Chester White) thrill with a menu that is not convoluted but hones in on a host of rewarding dishes and a wonderful diversity of tastes.
The staff here are engaging, and will chat as you imbibe at the long bar... The vibe is mainly around the bar which consumes most of the room, with tables at the front and back. A couple of larger groups dined next to me, so come here with your posse. The outdoor tables offer an attractive dining spot to take in eclectic Collingwood.
Elegant are the tables against the exposed brick walls. The plethora of pendants hanging on long cords was a trademark of the former tenant and suits this establishment well. I'm told the lighting feature had something to do with the name of the restaurant (methinks the quality of the food offers a statement of a light shining among the foodie scene, as well as a light to welcome travellers to this dining oasis). Or something like that.
With hip hop playing a sense of playfulness pervades, and is reflected also in the menu.
Northern Light actually serve up specials that people want. Several diners, including me, ordered the Shallot Pancakes, so rewarding with Asian flavours. This was a mighty dish for something as humble as a pancake, but that's typical of Northern Light. The texture of the pancake was perfectly light and fluffy, and the generous pieces of shallot infused throughout. A light golden brown exterior suggested a light fry, to make this the perfect pancake and entree.
Another alluring dish was the Fried rice - yes that's right, humble fried rice elevated to star status.
This was the best fried rice I've ever had in my life, and tops the home made fried rice we used to concoct after swimming in the 1990s... Northern Light delighted with perfectly cooked rice, the right amount of dryness, some crunch, and a wonderful number of fresh and tasty ingredients interspersed.
The stars of the fried rice show were the pork, prawn and egg, the ultimate combination trio when it comes to fried rice. Not to mention the reappearance of shallots and of course peas.
Northern Light has several appealing mains to choose from including the popular Crispy duck leg, or indeed the Mushroom congee.
As I said, specials are alluring, and it was difficult to pass on the Lamb ribs special.
Notwithstanding I ordered the Kurobuta pork bo ssam, kimchi, lettuce, pepper jang as a dish that is interactive as well as indulgent. Here are bold Asian flavours to be appreciated as you place the tasty pork and kimchi inside the lettuce, then add the sauce and savour...
Kimchi baby... This generous portion allowed me to eat with the pork even after I'd used up all the lettuce cups...
My pork meal in all it's glory...
Northern Light also impressed with its beer and wine list, and I ordered myself a couple of Sample Pale Ales from Collingwood (support the locals).
Desserts impress with the signature Broken rice icecream sandwich a classic, as well as options such as Rice pudding or Lemon curd.
From my research it looks like Northern Light change their menu from time to time, which keeps them and the punters excited and anticipatory.
Northern Light impressed at every level and genuinely adds to the Melbourne culinary scene where others are a mere copy of another. These guys rise above the pack. Northern Light is a place for foodies, where the food takes precedence over margins. No cutting corners here. Highly recommended.