• No 8 by John Lawson (Southbank)

Who is John Lawson?  The young, English chef has made No. 8 his own, and without transformation, it is serving up posh dishes to the socialising foodies at the river’s edge.

There for our team Christmas dinner, we enjoyed a set menu of two courses and a glass of wine.

To ward off the initial hunger of 20 colleagues all wanting their meals at once, we were served the popular Importance of Being Earnest fashion of bread with butter.  Only this was no ordinary bread and butter.  The bread was potato, dense with a slight crust and served warm.  The butter was whipped with salt and honey, similar to that at Morris Jones, only lighter.  The honey scent was enough to get my tummy rumbling.

Vegetarian main was a ravioli made with shaved jicama (like a Mexican yam) instead of pasta sheets.  The jicama was sweet and seemed as if it was raw but soaked for crispness and moisture.  The centre was filled with soft avocado blended with lemon.  Sweet, tangy, chilli – the flavours and textures were invigorating.

The tomato risotto was sweet with a well-made texture – simple and tasty.

The side of chips was more exciting, being incredibly crunchy and smoked.

Wine was a 2009 Fairbank shiraz, earthy and savoury with a herbaceous finish.

The service remained friendly and professional, despite the size of our group and as we got into gift stealing Kris Kringle later in the afternoon, the atmosphere in our balcony private room became more and more festive.

I never met John Lawson, but I can tell you this:  he puts together a decent meal.

No. 8 by John Lawson
8 Whiteman St
Southbank 3006
03 9292 7899

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