From the classic to the creative, Lemongrass offers great, “grown-up” Thai food from its Carlton based restaurant.
Food: Chicken Satay Skewers, Thai Fish Patties, Northern Thai Style minced Chicken Salad, Crab Red Thai Curry, Pineapple Fried Rice, Stir fried Beef, Traditional mango and sticky rice, Sang-Kaya, Pancakes
We loved the environment of Lemongrass. Set on a corner, its bright lights welcome you. Inside it feels spacious, although it’s actually a fairly small restaurant. The details they’ve woven in to the background of the restaurant, the statues and bamboo, all have the hallmarks of Thai culture, but it’s in sharp contrast to the brash noodle bars which are popping up around Melbourne.
Not that there’s anything wrong with pop lit funky casual Thai but there’s a time and a place for that. Lemongrass is much more traditional, and under the careful guidance of Chef Paula and owner Michael, you can be treated to a range of Thai culinary delights in an award winning restaurant.
Service was impeccable, staff were keen to tell us what they loved about dishes and were attentive throughout our meal despite it being a busy Friday night. The menu is extensive and they attracted a good mix of young couples and older families.
We tried a large range of items from their menu, starting with the chicken skewers and fish patties. The patties had a strong, fresh flavour and were clearly homemade. The patties themselves, while flavourful, were not spicy, but could be given a nice kick by adding the cucumber dipping sauce. (Be aware, it’s very traditional Thai and mild spice is a little bit more spicy than your average Nando’s mild spice).
The chicken skewers were a very generous serve, I liked the warming spicy flavour that came through from the basting and the peanut sauce balanced this well. What we really liked about the entrees was that, for many of them they are priced per piece (subject to minimum orders of 3 or 4), so no more fighting over that last spring roll!
For mains we had the pineapple fried rice, crab curry, chicken salad and spicy beef. The pineapple fried rice was the highlight for us, which was surprising as, when presented in the half pineapple it’s a very impressive looking dish – and these don’t always live up to their hype. There was so much going on in this dish, and the fresh pineapple, raisins and crunchy nuts made each mouthful different.
It’s a mild dish so is the perfect balance to a more traditional curry and it can also be adapted – omitting any ingredients you don’t want. Perfect for those of us with dietary requirements. The additional $4.80 to serve in a pineapple shell is a little pricey, but it definitely gives it the wow factor and it’s a generous serve so even at $22.50 in the pineapple it’s still not bad value.
The crab curry was a more traditional Thai dish and was full of all those spices you imagine when you think of Thai food, with a delightful creaminess enhanced by the fresh young coconut. Soft shell crab is always impressive, and while it had a good level of spice to it, we enjoyed this thick, classic red curry. (Just note, this is not the standard presentation of this dish and is something you would need to request).
The stir fried beef was again well cooked, and maximised that lightness you can achieve when stir-frying. This one again has plenty of spice and is a slightly smaller serve so probably best enjoyed with a side (unless you’re greedy like us and get it alongside some other mains).
Finally we had the Northern Thai style mince chicken salad with Thai herbs. This is a far more traditional, almost peasant style dish, and not something we’d tried before. I liked the fresh flavours of the herbs in this and I was a little disappointed I couldn’t manage more of it as I’d filled up on the pineapple fried rice. The serve of chicken was generous – it’s not your average salad – and this is another dish that would nicely balance something a little more spicy.
For dessert we tried the Thai Creme Caramel, the Mango and Sticky Rice and the Thai Berry Banana pancakes. All three were great desserts. The creme caramel had a lovely sweet flavour and the perfect texture – probably the best of the three but it was a hard choice. The pancakes had lots going on, and were quite light – a little more like a sweet roti texture than a typical pancake.
The mango and sticky rice was a more simple, traditional dessert. I liked this, it wasn’t too sweet and is a good light choice if you want to finish your meal off but have already over indulged. I also forgot to mention that we coupled our meals with some of their refreshing mocktails (although you’ve seen the pics) which are equally as good as the food.
Overall, Lemongrass provides a wonderful dining experience, highlighting all the best elements of Thai cuisine. While it’s not typically what you’d visit Carlton’s Lygon Street for, it’s well worth the break in pizza tradition to try some of the best Thai food Melbourne has to offer.
Address: 174-179 Lygon Street, Carlton
Mon 5pm to late
Tue 5pm to late
Wed 5pm to late
Thu 5pm to late
Fri 12pm to late
Sat 12pm to late
Sun 12pm to late
Parking: Most of the nearby parking is paid for at least some part of the day but you shouldn’t have too much difficultly finding a spot and many spots are free in the evening.
Getting here on PT: Take any Melbourne University tram up Swanston Street and alight at Lincoln Gardens, its less than 5 minutes walk from here.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Lemongrass Thai, Carlton. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a cafe won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting