When you read my ‘About’ page, you’ll find out that amongst other things I like discount coupons :–) In fact, in my social circle I’m well known for whipping out a coupon for every occasion. Might be my Asian upbringing – why pay full price when you can pay half price?

That’s why the new service YumTable is right up my alley.

YumTable is a website and free iPhone App which offers last minute restaurant deals and instant call-free bookings with booking confirmation via SMS. The best thing is that you can find restaurants by location, time, cuisine and price, which means that if you’re out on the town and feel like a bite to eat, you can scan what’s available close to you and make a booking immediately. And it’s not just the local Indian takeaway joint that shows up – on a quick search I discovered that Melbourne institution Flower Drum is on board at the moment with a 4 course Autumn tasting lunch for $65.

YumTable is a very clever idea I think, combining social media’s ‘next big thing’ – location services – with Melbourne’s enthusiastic food culture and Melburnians’ constant search for new places to try.

I attended a dinner celebrating the launch of the service at St Jude’s Cellars (which incidentally is one of the restaurants featured on the site) so the second half of this blog post is about the fabulous food that I had at the restaurant.

Despite living within walking distance of St Jude’s Cellars I’d never eaten there – such is the luxury of being spoilt for dining out options in inner-city Melbourne. Now that I’ve been once, I can’t wait to go back. The Spanish-inspired food that I sampled at the YumTable launch (most items feature in St Jude’s Cellars standard menu) was consistently well-cooked and well-presented. I also loved the openness of the restaurant’s pared-back warehouse dining space.

To start, a wooden platter arranged with charcuterie and appetisers, including some crunchy radishes, charred corn croquettes with creamy Mahon cheese and surprisingly moreish walnuts wrapped in smokey bacon. A very pretty arrangement, don’t you think?

A ramekin of pan seared calamari with jamon, chickpeas, tiny Dutch carrots and coriander. I would have been happy just to eat this dish all night – a hearty peasant dish evoking earth and sea.

Chunky lamb ragout with thick strips of pappardelle paired with the sharp bite of chicory leaves.

Free range suckling pig with braised lentils, a crunchy slaw and raclette potatoes. Cold weather comfort food at its best. But wait, it wasn’t time to sleep yet, more food awaited us….

Another classic Spanish seafood dish, this time consisting of monkfish, clams, calamari and mussels stewed with tomato, fennel, white wine and almonds.  All those lovely pan juices cried out for some broth-soaking couscous but it’s probably a good thing that we were offered a side salad instead – all that grain would have just expanded in my already expanded stomach.

Finally, a slice of beautifully moist fruit and frangipane tart served with vanilla custard. Now, I hate custard – it’s one of my irrational food fears and gives me the shudders along with tomato ketchup, artichokes and rissoles. However, the thick set, almost clotted cream consistency of this vanilla bean custard had me almost converted – it was the perfect partner for the almond-y tart.

Thank you to YumTable for inviting me to the launch.

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