I have to admit that I am a bit skeptical when it comes to gallery or concert hall restaurants.
I feel that when a building’s main purpose is not to be a restaurant then there’s no real incentive to serve good food. Add to that the fact that they are catering for a captive audience of hungry patrons (some of them tourists who won’t be revisiting the venue any time soon) and you have a recipe for soggy bain marie dishes and uninspiring sandwiches.
Happily, Persimmon at NGV International proves my prejudice wrong. Persimmon is the high end restaurant inside the gallery, a glass box which overlooks the beautiful Grollo Equiset outdoor sculpture garden on three sides. I have attended weddings in the garden and at the restaurant and it is one of Melbourne’s loveliest and most restful places to dine.
For lunch Persimmon offer a la carte menu or for better value, a more limited set menu of 2 courses with a glass of wine for $45 (you can add sides for a hefty $9) or a 4 course market lunch which changes weekly for $81 or $101 with matching wines.
I treated myself to the Member’s Lunch on the opening day of NGV’s winter blockbuster exhibition of Monet’s Garden when Persimmon served a special menu which included some of the dishes from its regular lunch menu. (NGV members get 10% off the bill at Persimmon).
I decided to go with main + dessert, starting with a tender confit duck leg nestled in a cocoon of creamy celeriac puree, stalks of delicate white asparagus, and some salty flakes of black potato with the texture of nori seaweed. It was a beautifully presented dish and the combination of autumnal flavours was a perfect match for the weather outside.
For dessert I chose the chocolate tart with chocolate sorbet. The description belied the work of art which was presented to me – a triangular of luxurious dark chocolate ganache tart, edible petals, giggle-inducing chocolate popping candy and a sharp bitter/sweet tang of sorbet.
In conjunction with Monet’s Garden Persimmon are offering a French inspired two course lunch with a glass of wine, coffee or tea and an exhibition ticket for $71 – saving you from the ignominious anticlimax of queuing up at the ticket office after your luxurious lunch.
Persimmon is a well-presented restaurant located in one of the quiet, hidden spaces of Melbourne and if you are visiting NGV International I highly recommend capping off your artistic experience with lunch there, then taking a digestive stroll through the outdoor sculpture gallery. It’s a quintessentially Melbourne experience.
Open 11am–4pm (lunch served until 2.30pm)