Originally set up solely to provide catering for Cliftons on Collins Street, Red Spice Road was opened in the laneway, McKillop Street, in late 2007. It quickly gained a following in the heart of the city's legal district seeking the unique flavours emanating from the kitchen.
Since opening to the public, Red Spice Road hasn’t looked back. The atmosphere is alive and buzzing with bartenders whipping up creative cocktails and chefs cooking up the tastes from all over South East Asia. Indeed, no two dining experiences at Red Spice Road are the same. As you step off the streets of Melbourne into Red Spice Road’s doors you are transported miles away through the aesthetics of this tasteful and exotic restaurant.
A sizeable establishment that boasts the ability to host large groups, the layout and décor is an inherent part of the charm even before a mouthful passes your lips. The venue is divided into six distinct areas designed around the concept of communal dining and shared dishes.
The Lantern Room, a key defining feature of the restaurant, is centred around two huge, half-crescent, communal tables, its fan-like set up allowing you to see the dining room from all angles. It is one of the largest shared tables in Australia, seating 60 people. There is a courtyard off the lantern room where you can enjoy al fresco dining in the beautiful Asian-inspired surroundings, lit by the glow of warm lanterns.
The Long Room with its polished wood fittings, warm hues and beautiful spider-web orb lighting, features large rectangular tables fitting up to 60 guests. Two private dining rooms are on offer, Lotus 1 and Lotus 2, combined with an opium bed lined Bar Room, decorated with silk cushions and large windows, completing the effect admirably.
Many of the dishes served at Red Spice Road have become customer favourites. At the forefront is the signature dish, Barramundi with Pork Belly and Roasted Onion Nam Jim. Executive chef, John McLeay, said, “Barramundi is such a great fish and very Australian. It comes in a variety of ways such as fresh water farmed, salt water farmed or as I prefer, wild. When cooking barramundi, it’s important that you make sure you cook the skin enough and at the right temperature so that it goes crispy.”
The texture of barramundi goes extremely well with the added small fried cubes of Red Spice Road’s famous pork belly. And having roasted shallots in the dressing gives a more creamy texture to it as well as makes the dressing a little less sharp. John said, “Ever since we put this dish on the menu, it has certainly proven to be one of our most popular dishes.” So popular in fact, that Red Spice Road took home the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 Good Food Guide Awards, a reflection of its continued success with the people of Melbourne.
“I love my Melbourne,” says John. “It’s such a cool city with so many hidden gems. Walk up pretty much any of our famous laneways, and you’ll discover a fantastic little bar or a really exciting little restaurant.” In the Melbourne CBD, Red Spice Road provides two such options.