2nd stop. Claude & Pei.

The Taco & Jess Day of Awesomeness (aka Amazeballs for those under 21) was to continue at Pei Modern for Lunch. After some intense retail therapy with our friend Claude Maus it was time to visit Mark Best’s Marque’s little funky Melbourne sibling, Pei Modern.

Second time at Pei and I wanted to be wowed as the first visit left a lot to be desired. I was determined to try theStuffed Caramelised Tomato (12 flavours inside to be precise, take that Colonel Sanders!)

Even with only one other couple in the restaurant, the atmosphere was there and the waitstaff aimed to please in every way. I couldn’t help but hum “Be our Guest, be our guest…” as they fussed about us, but not in the overbearing clothes shop chick kind of way.

We chose the daily 4 course special, highlighting the best produce. First up was the ever popular Almond Gazpacho with Blue Swimmer Crab. Essentially a perfect way to start a meal – subtle flavours, beautiful seafood, highlighting the quality of the produce. Aka the aim of Pei.

Second course was Mussels with Spinach Puree and Potato flakes. Hands down, the best Mussels I have ever had. To risk quoting Matt Preston and sounding like a typical foodie, cooked to Perfection. Melt in your mouth. I also wanted to pick up the plate and drink the spinach puree, but I thought that a tad inappropriate…in case Mr Best as there watching us through the pass.

So far so good from the food & the service but I have to say, the one negative that keeps getting to me about this place is that the view is the Sofitel Car park. Watching the newest Toorak tractors roll in and out wasn’t the best mood setter but the staff do their best to deter from this and keep you in the element within their space.

Main was served as fried Flathead with a Chickpea Puree. Sorry Mr Best, but I didn’t rate it. Once you break through the thick tempura, the fish is fantastic, but the tempura was too overpowering and I ended up leaving half of it on my plate. The other option was the Pork Jowl and I had massive food envy watching that go to the other table.

After a couple of vino’s and fantastic conversation over the baked in house sourdough, it was time for the human vacuum (aka me) to meet the Mark Best Masterpiece. THE tomato.

This creative little critter is packed full of flavour and did not disappoint. The twelve flavours enclosed inside appeared to be like a black risotto packing a punch to be complimented well by the Star Anise Sorbet.

Go to Pei Modern to try this dessert alone. It’s one of those dishes that people talk about. You can know nothing or everything about food and still appreciate this dish.

Overall I’d give Pei 7.

Service was fantastic as were the Mussels, Gazpacho and the Tommy at the end, but the fish was a let down and I still can’t say that watching the Sofitel concierge park cars is the outlook you’d want at a place like this.

Bravo though Mark. Welcome to Melbs.

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