This was place suggested by a client that was working from home. He recommended that we meet at an Italian restaurant right around his suburb in Doncaster East, which is a 30-min drive from Melbourne.
It has a very interesting name – Tender Trap. If it was in any other places, I would have not thought of it as a name for a restaurant. Owners Chris and Helen Moraitis believe passionately that people should be fussy and that when they come to the Tender Trap, everything from the welcome through to the after dinner coffee should be genuine and as good as it can be.
The Tender Trap prides itself in using seasonal ingredients from Australia – the finest meats, seafood, vegetables and herbs sourced from local waters, pastures and gardens.
Local Mussels, Soffrito, Grilled Speck, Chic Peas, Capsicum, Lemon Pangrattato
When the basic ingredients are this good the cooking doesn’t need to be complicated. And that can be said about the local mussels used in this creamy sofritto (onion, celery and carrot) stew.
Pangrattato (bread crumbs) was used to thicken the broth and bite size bits of toasted bread were added to soak up the creamy stew. And what was really surprising was the additional of the deep fried basil leaves to give that exotic Southeast Asian taste.
Romsey Range Aged Eye Fillet, Romesco Ragu, Fondant Duck Fat Potatoes, Jus
I rarely had a bad steak in Melbourne and the eye fillet was perfectly medium rare, no puns intended. Romesco is traditionally a savory Spanish sauce consisting of red peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a variety of roasted or raw nuts. the chef swapped out the red peppers with green ones for his ragu and produced a sharper, bolder romesco.
But the piece de resistance on the plate was the fondant duck fat potatoes. Pommes fondant or melting potatoes are these fluffy, flavour infused potatoes that are pan fried with duck fats and then simmered with stock. Because of the long cooking process, these have all but replaced by pommes frite or simply baked potatoes. But a good fondant is always appreciated.
Sugar Crusted Pistachio Donuts, Strawberry Compote, Yoghurt Rose Gelato
With the excellent starter and main courses, I could not resist but order a dessert, especially when it was donuts. These sugar dusted balls of delight were simple yet delicious. Served those donuts with crushed pistachio and a quenelle of rose flavour frozen yoghurt, you have a winner on your hand.
We were definitely well taken care of as our client was a regular. He did not even have to look at the menu, and Chris insisted on making an omakase meal for him. Everything he had was not on the menu and they looked wonderful. But it was too rude for me to take photos of his meal. I was already embarrassed but I could not resist.
But look at all those regulars that left their marks on the wall on these restaurant plates. You know this place was really a tender trap to those unknowing gourmets. I am trapped too and would look forward to come back and try other dishes on the menu.
Shop 2/266 Blackburn Rd, Doncaster East VIC 3109, Australia
Tel : +61 3 9842 3466
Visited in Mar 2022