• By Tuan Nguyen
Update: As of Jan 2016, Pavonia Place has closed down :(
There's a new restaurant that I've been hearing lots about and that would be Pavonia Place in Nightcliff. I finally got around to stopping by for dinner – I sure took my time because it is only a few minutes drive from my place in Coconut Grove. The theme is modern Australian with a few hints of Asian and Mediterranean flavours creeping in. Of particular interest on the menu is the oriental spiced quinoa, polenta and lemon myrtle dusted calamari, seared kangaroo loin, polenta crusted parmagianas and finally the lemon grass panna cotta. They all sound great to me!
We begin the night with the home made dips - smoked salmon and the other eggplant, along with finely cut and grilled turkish bread ($12). Attention to detail is apparent off the bat - usually dips aren't very pretty but this was a work of art. Most importantly it was delicious and I reeeally liked the crunchy bread.
The other entree was polenta and myrtle calamari ($15). I've never come across anyone using polenta on deep fried goodies before so this was rather intriguing. It was very good too – the polenta giving a firm crunch and a hint of corn flavour. Great job again. Which brings us to the mains. There isn't a huge selection to choose from, but that doesn't bother me as I believe that leads to better quality overall.
I select the locally sourced 400 gram eye fillet steak with mushroom sauce ($42). Big, fat and chunky, I couldn’t wait to see how it looked on the inside. The first cut went through amazingly easy – I swear a spoon would have done as good a job as a steak knife. The taste was divine – if only vegetarians knew the awesomeness that is a beautifully cooked piece of moo cow. Probably not as epic as thescotch fillet I had at The Cavenagh, but then again they are two different cuts of meat with different flavour profiles. But it definitely poops all over the eye fillet I ate at Buzz Cafe a while ago and Char Restaurant could only dream of cooking a steak like this.
My wife had the chicken breast polenta crusted schnitzel topped with Napoli sauce and mozzarella ($25). There's that polenta stuff again! And it works too, again providing beautiful crunch and extra flavour over regular breadcrumbs. Wifey loved it – I could tell because that tiny bit I managed to sneak was all I was got as the rest was polished off very quickly. The faster she eats, the better the score - she broke the lap record on this occasion.
On the side we had a garden salad and some wok tossed vegetables (both $6 each). The former was just leafy stuff so not much to say about that. The latter was cooked in a little butter and seasoned - simple yet tasty and has inspired me to try the same at home one day.
The desert looked interesting but we had no room left to fit it, I guess the lemongrass panna cotta will have to wait until next time to party in my mouth. Owner Renee runs the front section of the restaurant with energy and enthusiasm whilst the second owner Isaac is out the back manning the kitchen. I've heard on the grapevine Renee was the Fairy Godmother before retiring to run Pavonia Place. It works well as everything runs smoothly without fault. The service is polite and unobtrusive but is there when you need it. Can't really ask for more than that.
The interior is a lovely red, white and black scheme with a modern and arty feel thanks to the local artwork adorning the walls. The tables are topped with paper and a cache of coloured pencils so you can get your creative juices going. I'm a terrible artist so I won't dare show my pathetic photo of a cow atop a dinner plate on a grassy field. But whatever your skill level with the pencil, I'm sure you'll come up with something cool. The staff are probably still laughing at my 2 year old level drawing. Overall I was quite impressed with Pavonia Place. A charming and funky restaurant in Nightcliff of all places.
The prices are on the higher end of town but I think it's certainly justified given the level of food, service and presentation. Definitely a place to take your partner for a romantic date or if you just want a great meal. There's a new menu coming very soon I'm told so keep an eye out for that! Also take a gander in the men's toilets for the cool famous rock star decals. Not sure what was in the ladies rooms, but I dare not enter....