Most of the time, I don’t feel like a grown-up. I whine when I’m overtired, I find showering a chore, and I still have no idea how to do my taxes. But the thing that will always keep me young is the amount I watch kids’ movies, specifically Disney classics. I’ve seen The Little Mermaid more times than I can count, and I can quote Mulan without even having the film on screen. Although it’s not a Disney film, I also love Despicable Me. And I’m sure everyone can relate when I say that the minions are probably the best thing to happen to children’s cinema since… well, Mickey Mouse.
When I finally saw Minions, Universal’s newest money-grabbing scheme, I loved every moment of it. I think it surpasses Despicable Me and its sequel in both humour and casting (Geoffrey Rush, Sandra Bullock, and Michael Keaton?! Clearly children and grandchildren had something to do with this). If you haven’t seen either Despicable Me or Minions, you should. Even if only to reconnect with that child within you who secretly wishes you could stay in your pajamas all day.
When the movie ended, my boyfriend and I decided to put aside our childish eccentricities and hit up the new Mood Food in Braddon. The interior design of the restaurant observes the sleek and contemporary style of many other Mode 3 occupants, and its sophistication and modernity accentuate the trendy plates they produce. Rectangular candlelit chandeliers hang from the ceiling, emitting a light neither too dim nor too bright but that can only be classed as “mood” lighting. The space is small with an angular, open concept; the kitchen can easily be seen from every corner of the restaurant and boasts a well-organized, clean environment. A raised lounge area takes up a good chunk of the front of house, complete with cushy leather sofas, a long coffee table, and floral arrangements. Mood Food also offers an outdoor dining area equipped with propane heaters for the cold winter nights.
The service is friendly, attentive, and quick to answer the kitchen. Although there were few staff on when we visited the restaurant, they worked well as a team. One thing to note is that Mood Food offers its patrons an affordable fine dining experience, so expect to be at the restaurant for quite some time. This is not a place to grab a quick meal before a Dendy movie, but it is worth the wait as the food that comes to your table is phenomenal.
The restaurant offers a fantastic menu. We both had trouble deciding which dishes to partake in. Although I feel they could have been a bit more creative when developing their cocktail menu, their wine list is quite varied. In the end we chose a fabulous Marlborough pinot noir that was light, smooth, and had strong notes of grape and berry. Like most Marlborough wines, it was divine.
As an appetizer, we ordered the seared scallops ($18). The shellfish was cooked perfectly – they had beautiful outer caramelisation and creamy interiors. Pairing raisins with the fish was a unique idea and one that definitely surprised me; the sweet burst of plump golden raisins worked very well texturally, complementing the crunch of the cos lettuce and softness of the scallops. However, while I enjoyed the textural experience of the dish, I felt the cos was flavourless and the pork crackling was overcooked. Although it added a salty element, the pork tasted slightly burnt and bitter and edged near tooth-cracking territory.
Don’t let the appetizers discourage you, though. The mains are where I feel Mood Food shines. I ordered the crispy skin duck breast with spiced peaches, carrot and peach purée, parsnip crisps, and ancho chilli de leche ($28). The only criticism I can condone about this dish was that it was much too small – I wish I’d had more! The duck breast was succulent, had super crispy skin, and tons of flavour. Both the purée and the crisps were beautiful accompaniments to the duck, and I really enjoyed the addition of the spiced peaches which accentuated the natural sweetness of the breast. An elegant dish.
My boyfriend’s chocolate and chilli braised beef rib with mashed potato, buttered green beans, and fondant turnip ($30) was equally fabulous. Mood Food was extremely generous with their serving of beef – an entire rib of fall-off-the-bone deliciousness was delivered to our table, much to my boyfriend’s pleasure. Although the meat was light on cocoa flavour, it did possess a slight chilli kick at the end and meat so tender it melted in your mouth. The mash was rich yet full of flavour, and the beans were crunchy and well cooked.
For dessert we decided to go traditional and partake in the rhubarb and berry crumble with a scoop of vanilla ice cream ($14). I felt that for the size of the crumble the price was a little hefty, but the dish did not disappoint in flavour. It was tart, sweet, and lightly spiced – everything a good crumble base should be. However, I’m a crumble girl. I like a good 1:2 ratio of fruit base to crumble, and I did not get that with this dish.
Although Mood Food didn’t quite hit the mark on appetizer or dessert, they are serving up some amazing mains. Their duck breast was one of the best duck dishes I’ve had in a long time, rivaling that of Pialligo Estate, and the fall-off-the-bone tenderness of the beef rib was divine. If you’re in the Braddon area and feeling up to an elegant yet causal fine dining experience, you cannot go wrong with Mood Food. Even if you’ve just laughed your way through a children’s movie, this place will make you feel like a grown-up.