Food

Sails on the Bay - Celebrating the Melange 20 years

 

Sails on the Bay is one of those iconic Melbourne dining experiences, with stellar views and classic service and cuisine. Many people I've spoken to can point to enjoyable dining sessions at Sails on the Bay over the decades. My engineer friend has been taking overseas corporate clients here for years. The World Loves Melbourne was at Sails on the Bay to celebrate the four course Melange - which has been on the menu now for 20 years. How many Melbourne dishes have been on a menu for 20 years? Our waitress told us the dish was on the menu of this restaurant owned by her family, when she was just 3 years old.

Unlike some nouveau establishments Sails on the Bay is not the sort of place where you are rushed. Their biggest days are on weekends when customers "while away" several hours and imbibe the seaside relaxed feel. The Saturday we visited was a cold winters day but the atmosphere was superb and the changing seaside conditions compelling; it's a all year round destination. The clientele are unmistakingly upmarket - not a bogan in sight (other than on the beach).

Spending many years in Adelaide I can point to a number of seaside dining experiences there such as Star of Greece in Port Willunga or even in Glenelg, Somerton and Henly Beach that transport you to the Mediterranean. But such experiences in Melbourne are few and far between. Seaside dining has its own pleasures.

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Sails on the Bay served us fresh bread rolls with small bowls of dukkah and oil, salt and pepper to start our meal on a homely foot.

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We were eager for the Melange - four courses of seafood to give us a "true taste of the sea" in our bayside haven. This meal is comprehensive - you get a broad selection of the "stars of the sea" from oysters to scampi. It's fun and delightful. Also check out the Sails on the Bay dining packages from their website.

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First course featured Seared yellow fin tuna, Coffin Bay oysters with chilli and ginger caramel, smoked potatoes, cherry tomato, egg yolk confit, bean and olive salsa. The dish is visually striking and we loved the quality, taste and texture of the seared yellow fin tuna. The Coffin Bay oysters came with an excellent punchy sauce, served on the side, in case you just want to eat the oysters "natural" style.

This was such a memorable dish with the succulent tuna eaten with parcels of tangy potatoes, confit, tomatoes and salsa combined together on the fork. Certainly it was a great start to the Melange.

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The Red Harissa spiced sardines, chickpea, saffron and capsicum soffritto at Sails on the Bay was also a standout rustic dish. Once again the presentation was spectacular. The World Loves Melbourne believes one of the great simple culinary combinations is sardines and toast. So we placed chunks of the large sardines straight on the toast, with chickpea and capsicum soffritto providing texture and kick. I would describe this as indulgent comfort food.

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King Dory fillet, artichokes, shallot confit, marinated shiitake mushrooms with watercress sauce (below) was a sensational third course of the Melange. We love the sweetness of King Dory and its appealing texture suitable for pan cooking, grilling or baking. This King Dory was wonderfully browned with crispy skin, then tender fish underneath. We also love the flaking qualities of King Dory, and we prized flaky chunks apart and paired them with artichokes and mushrooms and the incredible sauce. The watercress sauce had smoky flavours perfect with the sweetness of the King Dory.

Can I again mention the stellar presentation?

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Check out the sails (below) from Sails on the Bay...

This place caters for all kinds of events and functions. Says the website - 

"Surrounded by glass, Sails on the bay is a Melbourne Restaurant which sits one metre from the golden sands of Elwood Beach making the bay your dining canvas.
The sun sets right outside our windows, sparkling on the waters of Port Phillip Bay. The view is uninterrupted and on any given day you can view a cruise liner sailing across the water, a wind surfer or at night the flickering lights of the West Gate bridge sparkle in the distance.
With a location so close to the beach you can almost touch the sand.  It’s the perfect place to dine, host a wedding, corporate event or small party.
Our dedicated event facility has its own deck access, guest entry foyer, private amenities, parquetry dance floor and recessed stage.  The Event Room can accommodate seated dining events up to 130 guests and 300 for cocktail parties."

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The matched wines for the Melange is recommended, including my favourite, the Ros Ritchie Nebbiolo...

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Fresh scampi, crystal bay prawns, Spring bay mussels, cloudy bay clams, w lime broth! With 2010 Ros Ritchie Nebbiolo! Winner! Who doesn't love fresh scampi? The meat is sweet and succulent. The lime broth was a standout - I found myself dipping my scampi in the tasty salty broth (also seemed to be a fair component of butter) to offset the sweetness for great balance. 

A key to eating prawns and scampi is to twist at the head in order to seperate the tail. If you just snap without twisting you risk spraying the gunk inside the head all over the fine tablecloth. 

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We were already full, the Melange a triumph. You can see why it's stood the test of time. When Sails on the Bay opened in 1994 it served a selection of family friendly options including burgers. Today its about finery (although still family friendly) and provides a more casual dining area in the Cafe Terrace adjoining.

The waitress offered a dessert selection and we obliged (although not part of the Melange). By the way, our waitress was one of the best we've encountered in over 600 restaurant reviews. She understood the hospitality industry involves "hospitality".

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The desserts at Sails on the Bay reflect the skills of the British pastry chef and are spectacular. We loved it all, but particularly the lime pie as well as their take on the classic lamington...

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Sails on the Bay remains a Melbourne classic dining experience that is compelling for its views, exceptional service, and of course the iconic Melange. This restaurant is perfect for functions, romantic interludes, friends gathering, 100 year birthday celebrations (yes they had an epic one here with fireworks), corporates, or even single dining. Restaurants thrive for decades for a reason. This is classic dining and there's plenty to be said for it. Highly recommended.

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