Anyway the opportunity presented itself and 6 of us had dinner there on Saturday. Shern made the booking and could only get the 6pm sitting so we 6pm it was.
I find it intriguing that it gets such a good write up from critics yet such a low score from Urbanspoon voters and yet is always incredibly busy and difficult to get a booking. What experience would we have?
First impressions - it's a pleasant place to sit - open air ish, light and airy. Our table gave us lots of room and our drinks orders taken quickly.
The menu can be daunting as there's so much to choose from and as always when in a group it can be hard to decide hence we thought Feed Me options would be great. We were then informed that they couldn't accommodate a vegetarian and our time constraint as they needed the table back meant it wouldn't be done. This put a dampener on things really and we accepted it and worked through the a la carte menu to piece together and our waitress enthusiastically told us this would be better as we'd save heaps of money (not true and not really the point as money wasn't the issue).
Anyway we didn't make a fuss but mentally I formed the opinion that this was pretty inflexible; other busy places that turn tables round can do banquets and put together something for vegetarians and omnivores easily. It shouldn't be difficult to come up with something everyone can have especially given the vastness of the menu. I feel chef and the kitchen and the waitstaff who know the menu just didn't try hard enough, weren't willing to give us their time to assist or didn't have the ability to do that because they're too busy just churning out what's on the menu.
We also tried the soft shell crab and avocado with Mrs T’s magical sauce and Buddha rolls, with tofu, shiitake and jimica, peanut sauce. Fresh rolls with unsoggy wraps. I find rice paper rolls can get soggy and slimy so I liked the chewiness of the wrap and the crunch of the veg here.We w
The curries were flavoursome and both very different which is good. They came with a small bowl of rice, a crusty roll and some salad. The ribs were tender and fell off the bone and again like the prawns were meant to be rolled in some lettuce with some rice noodles and other accompaniments. Unfortunately our wedge of lettuce wasn't great so by the time it got to me there wasn't much to roll but I enjoyed the ribs and the dipping sauce and rice noodles regardless. Kind of like a deconstructed version.
Unusual but enjoyable. I loved the passionfruit sorbet that was incredibly intense.
General verdict was that the food was flavoursome and I can see why it gets the critics' thumbs up and it definitely deserves that kudos. I think it's pricing that the Urbanspooners don't like especially as Vietnamese food is traditionally cheap. I don't mind the prices but high prices mean as well as good food there also has to be good service and whilst our enthusiastic waitress did her best, it's really the inflexible nature and structure of Dandelion that tainted our experience.
There were also too occasions when one of our party would order a drink but rather than ask the rest of the table if they also wanted to order anything the waitress or waiter would run off neglecting the rest of the order! I think front of house needs to calm down, take stock and look at the two sittings turnaround and how to best deliver an all round positive customer experience and once that has improved I might venture all the way to Elwood again.