Persimmon, Ground Level NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

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.

Persimmon, Ground Level NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

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).

Persimmon, Ground Level NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

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.

Persimmon, Ground Level NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

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.

For more special dining events related to Monet’s Garden click here.

Persimmon, Ground Level NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank +61 3 8620 2434 

Open 11am–4pm (lunch served until 2.30pm)

Closed Tuesdays 

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