Small and intimate, Imbue opened a mere 17 months ago but its high class menu has wowed locals and foodies alike.
Food: Whipped feta, chicken liver parfait, salmon sashimi, 4 point lamb rack, crispy potatoes, panna cotta, cannoli
Imbue is hailed by some as the “best restaurant in the Western Suburbs”. I don’t think we’ve dined enough out West to make that call but we were certainly very impressed. Most of you could probably fit Imbue into your living areas at home, and that’s part of its charm. Customers become friends – with each other and the owners – and they’re welcomed back like family. The kitchen, while tucked away at the back, is quite open so you can say hi to the busy chefs and watch your meal being prepared.
If this classy yet welcoming atmosphere, with the mural featuring important features in the owners’ and restaurant’s history, doesn’t win you over then the local produce and glorious menu certainly will. There’s a varied wine list, many of which are sourced locally and come from friends of the Imbue team, such as the Carlie estate Pino Gris which I enjoyed with our entree, or the Victoria Avenue Pinor Noir I tried with mains. What’s great about this is the wines are coming from people who’ve dined at Imbue and personally know what would complement the food well.
We began with the whipped feta, with honeycomb and crostini. The chef’s own recipe, this wouldn’t be out of place on the menu at Attica! The light feta and smooth honey, atop a crostini with the perfect crunch. While it still tasted like feta, it lacked the tartness often associated with this cheese. It’s creative, but a smart enough dish to not overwhelm.
Next we had the chicken liver parfait – another family recipe. I was amazed at the smoothness of this as they are so often a little thick or grainy. It has to be the smoothest one I’ve tried, again with more of that wonderful honey, some pomegranate, pickled cucumber and the crisp crostini. There was a lot I liked on this plate. It’s a bolder dish and while the feta has the edge for me both would be an ideal entree to your meal.
We also sampled one of their specials, the salmon sashimi. I was initially worried it was cut a little thick – but I clearly know nothing (jokes – I know a few things) as it just melted in our mouths and was so fresh I almost wanted to check it wouldn’t still swim. Another huge plus of sourcing most things locally! It came with a tangy yuzu sauce which we felt was perfectly on trend at the moment and shows these guys aren’t ready to rest on their laurels just yet.
For our final savoury dishes, we had the pork belly and the lamb rack. The pork belly had a glass like crunch – think creme brulee crack. This was another interesting dish. You’re greeted with a rich meaty smell – reminscient of a steak dish – and not what I would imagine from pork. It was perfectly cooked and accompanied by a fresh, almost asian-esque salad with a good chilli kick. It looked like it didn’t know what it wanted to be, but it tasted like it fit right in – heroeing the pork but ensuring enough else was happening that it didn’t get boring.
Lamb isn’t something I eat often and it was just a great choice for a menu like this – cooked medium with a flavourful jus, the little meaty bites contrasted with the fresh tomatoes giving an enjoyable, tasty dish. It’s lighter than you’d expect for a red meat dish. We paired it with the fried potatoes, to give a bit of crunch and help make it a very filling meal. They are a generous serve, and one portion easily works as a side for two people.
Finally we finished up with the cannoli and pannacotta for dessert. The desserts played it a little safer than the rest of the meal focusing on very classic flavours. The cannoli, filled with a chocolate mousse were a sweet dessert and are a good sharing option if you are pretty full but want that little sweet treat to finish off the night – topped with sour cherries for a little bit of contrast.
The pannacotta was very traditional. I’ve tried so many pannas in Melbourne I almost forgot this is how they are supposed to taste, and this brought me right back to Italy in one mouthful – vanilla, berry compote, with a few freeze dried raspberry shards. Nothing wacky, just good flavours how they’ve always been done. I’d be excited to see them push the boat out a little more with these desserts as they become more established and take a few risks but we were definitely smiling with this delicious end to our meal.
I’d recommend booking before you head out to try this tiny treasure, as they are a popular choice. It’s a long drive from our place but we definitely felt it was well worth it for the high quality, unique dishes they have to offer and the fab service!
Address: 2/419 Gordon St, Maribynong
Tue 5pm to 10pm
Wed 5pm to 10pm
Thu 5pm to 10pm
Fri 5pm to 10pm
Sat 5pm to 10pm
Sun 5pm to 10pm
Parking: There’s a convenient car park at the end of the small row of shops – less than 1 minute walk from Imbue.
Getting here on PT: It’s on the 82 tram route and the 406 and 952 bus routes – alight at Birdwood Street.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Imbue, Maribynong. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a restaurant won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting