Another night at the bar
It was another impromptu Friday night dinner for Sarah and I after another kind of average work week. After ringing around and realising we weren't going to get a table anywhere with such late notice, we decided to give eating at the bar at Coda a shot. We'd heard good things about Coda from Dave and Alicia, and have developed an affinity to dining at the bar when there's just the two of us, especially when the bar overlooks the theatre that is the modern restaurant kitchen.
Coda's menu is an interesting affair, with around half the dishes designed for sharing, and the other half individual portions (one rice paper roll, one prawn, etc.). This worked pretty well for us, and after an initial cocktail (g&t for me, Mojito for Sarah) we attacked the menu with our usual zeal. We decided to do a bunch of the individual plates first, and then order more as we went along, another benefit of eating at the bar is that this is a surprisingly easy way to go about ordering.
First came the Soft rice paper rolled with pork, prawn, perilla and chive bud, and the spectacular Sugar cane prawn with sweet chilli sauce, which was equal parts delicious and awkward to eat. The signature dish of the Coda rolls are essentially spring rolls, but with filling of bone marrow, ginger, shitake and rice paddy herb; it tastes as good as it sounds. Despite all these offerings, the highlights for me must have been either the Quail lettuce delight or the Ha Noi style crispy rice paper roll. But there was not a weak dish amongst any of these, and the menu contains enough other interesting plates to make us come back again and order a completely different set of dishes.
All these were accompanied by a bottle of NZ Pinot (because the Mornington one we ordered first had just sold out), and we then went one of the larger style dishes on the menu. Settling on the Sizzling plate of beef, roasted chilli, kingbrown mushrooms, wing beans and thai basil with a side of Jasmin rice (or Jazzy rice as it appeared on the bill), we were once again shown that you can never have too much of a good thing. The flavours and textures were amazing and kept us going back for more until there was nothing left for the plate to sizzle.
Desserts were no less impressive, and were quickly demolished despite the amount of food that had come before. The Chocolate Tian, a layered dessert of chocolate cake, ice cream, and topped with whiskey foam, was amazing. The rather humble sounding Ice cream sandwich contained a chocolate ice cream and coconut sorbet with two wafers which we couldn't decide if they tasted like caramel popcorn or some form of sweetened peanut butter, either way they were delicious.
Sitting at the bar was a matter of necessity, but on a Friday night with the kitchen buzzing inside and the streets busy outside (not that you can really see much of the street from Coda's basement setup), it's quite a fun place to spend a few hours. Especially when the food is so good that the only thing stopping you staying longer is you can't possibly fit any more in.
Soft rice paper rolls, Sugar cane prawn, Coda rolls, Quail lettuce delight, Ha Noi style crispy rice paper roll, Sizzling plate of beef.
Te Whare Ra 08 Pinot Noir