- Potato Fritters
- Taco Bowl
- Spinach and Ricotta Turkish Borek
- Baked Moroccan Lamb Claypot
- Ricotta Donuts
- French Toast
- Polenta Fries
The Lamb Claypot was exceptional. Cooked in a tomato base, the lamb shoulder within was exceedingly soft and tender, which simply fell apart with the stab of a fork. Combined with some light but well melted Swiss cheese and an abundance of herbs and dukkah, the dish was bursting with flavour. While the two sticks of bread could’ve been more toasted to provide more crunch, it was unanimously agreed that this was the highlight of our meal. However, contrary to the headline title, the dish was served in a normal dish as opposed to a ‘claypot’.
We also enjoyed the Polenta Fries. Exceptionally fresh, they were fried to a perfect golden brown and served piping hot. Within, the cornmeal was fragrant and was well complemented by a well-seasoned outer. However, we could’ve definitely done with more cheese topping the dish.
We found the Taco Bowl, which on this occasion consisted of Chicken and Vegetarian Tacos, were rather pedestrian. Despite looking spectacular and being exceptionally colourful, loaded with a wide variety of beans and veggies, and topped with a generous amount of sauce, all this failed to deliver the flavours that we were expecting. While the Polenta Fries sandwiched within the Vegetarian Taco were pleasant, crunchy yet soft within, same can’t be said for the chicken which didn’t taste of much.
The Ricotta Donuts was overall enjoyable though unimpressive. Exceptionally fresh, each donut was fried nicely, with a dark-brown, crispy outer. Unfortunately, we found the dough of the donut rather dense, and while it was spongey, could’ve done with more softness and airiness. We enjoyed the salted caramel and cocoa custard, which provided great flavour and sweetness. The achilles heel of the dish however, would be that scoop of ice cream, which may as well not been served as it was incredibly icy and tasteless, perhaps from re-freezing.
The French Toast was served alongside the same basic ingredients as the donut. Despite being delectably spongey and airy, the egg batter failed to soak through most of the toast and only enclosed the top and bottom skin. As a result, it wasn’t very far off from eating a normal piece of toast loaded with sweet sugary goodness. For all intents and purposes though, while the dish was enjoyable overall, calling it French Toast is simply a lie.
There’s no other word to describe the Spinach and Ricotta Turkish Borek apart from being sorely disappointing. Sparingly filled, there wasn’t much spinach nor ricotta to be found within. The pastry itself was tough and chewy, not how a borek should be. Served alongside some unremarkable avocado and tomato relish, we felt very underwhelmed by the dish overall. A $2 borek from Queen Victoria Market trumps this, any day of the week.
The Potato Fritters also failed to excite. Despite being crunchy, the fritters were undeniably bland and needed much seasoning. The inner was also much too mushy for our liking, and definitely needed more variety in texture from the corn and salsa. This was not helped by the smoked salmon, which we believe is the packet, off the shelf variety that didn’t exhibit much smokiness. Thankfully, the egg was perfectly poached.
The sides, namely the Sautéed Mushrooms, were poorly executed. Loaded with a sweet, lemon-hinted balsamic vinegar, the resultant mushroom were disgustingly tangy and tasted of sugar. This was a far cry from the savoury, rich buttery sautéed mushrooms that one would normally expect. Honestly, anyone could’ve done much better at home with some salt and olive oil. Classic example of trying to do too much yet achieving so little.
While Dumbo has been open for more than half a year, only excelling at one dish, out of all that we’ve tried, clearly indicates that the kitchen have yet to master the simple menu.
It was overall an unimpressive brunch experience. Despite the creative and interesting dishes on the menu, the only dish that I can recommend would be the Lamb Claypot.
Would Penguin Eat Again?
I’d be keen to return to see more finesse, both in the execution of the menu as well as the service provided. At it’s current state, it may only be worth a try if you are a local.
Penguineats would like to thank Dumbo Melbourne and @shortxstout for inviting us.