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A dinner at Taxi

Barra by the Yarra ISouffle II

Verdict: the food = great good; the location = great position. The rest = not so great.

A couple weeks we booked a birthday dinner at the Taxi Dining Room. Not long after this we were excited to learn that Taxi had been named Restaurant of the Year by The Age. Wow, now we were looking forward to experiencing a culinary event.

Pity that.

Let's first mention Taxi’s location – which must be the envy of every restaurant in Melbourne - Taxi is opposite Flinders Street Station, flanked by the Yarra River & Princes Bridge, with Southbank in the distance and having it's own corner of Lab's now iconic Federation Square.

So, it is in the heart of picturesque, postcard perfect Melbourne. Which has the natural disadvantage of being a geek magnet - attracting tourists, out of towners, or, shudder, all those suburban folk who flock to the unofficial Town Square or meander across from the station.

Luckily, Taxi (and its downstair bar, Transport) have put measures in place to deal with the tide of human detritus that washes upon their shores… They have created a large squadron of bouncers in black suits (who've possibly watched the Matrix too many times) and who are ready to ask "Is your name on the list, have you booked, etc." using a very intimidating questioning tone. They also carry clipboards and have earpieces. Nice touch.

These brave people are the frontline troops. Mission: to keep the hoi polloi from getting in. They are the membrane, the bulwark, the last line of defence. God bless them. They’re out the front, on the red (?) carpet, doing their tour of duty in The Cool Wars. "Is your name on the list, have you booked, etc."

Cunningly, even if you are cool enough to get into the bar or perhaps like us, are privileged to have a dinner reservation, you will still have face another squadron of crack security staff who, once again without a moment’s hesitation are ready to shoot down intruders with questions like "Is your name on the list, have you booked, etc."

Woe betide any of you the dim young drunks who wander upstairs looking for a souvlaki... I believe the bodies of such enemy combatants are deposited into wheelie bins and ferried away in wee hours of the morning…

The final obstacle in what it starting to seem like a video game is the staff that greet you inside.

Yes, we have booked, etc.

Very quickly, after being given the wine list, we are told that a sommelier is available who can help you with selecting a wine... Nice to know.

The wine list is at least 8 pages long and takes a good five minutes to read. Helpfully, while we read it, we were told 6 times that they had a sommelier available. Great, but we’ve agreed on a choice. We ordered a bottle and then rubbernecked the aforementioned view.

And now I'm afraid my reporting skills were completely overshadowed by the vivid cityscape outside. I presume the restaurant has a well though out decor of the but I can’t remember. The view I can. I am, however, trying to forget the posy misstep of having a DJ providing the music for the dining room. Read that last sentence again. Well, no doubt in theory, having a DJ sounds cool but in practice it looks a little bit desperate. Bookshops wannabe coffeshops. Writers wannabe celebrities. But why would the restaurant of the year wannabe a nightclub? Beats me.

Okay, so what about the food? Well. It's good. The menu features strong Japanese influences with a dab of haute cuisine. Wagyu beef seems to be all the rage at the moment. The food is just good. But nothing that had our table dropping their utensils and staring at each other in disbelief. Nope.

(I was sort of embarrassed by my childish instinct to order the banana and chocolate chip souffle for dessert. Let's just say my curiosity wasn't rewarded.)

By the way, it is advisable to make a reservation. And a sommelier is available who can help you with selecting a wine.
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