Nik at Nicholson
749 Nicholson Street, Carlton North Modern Australian
- Dandelion Latte
- Spiced Chicken Wings
- Crispy Calamari
- Paella Valencia
- Penne Firenze
- Garlic Prawns Pizza
- Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder
- Butterscotch Mousse
- Chocolate Caramel Swirl Cheesecake
- Brownie Freakshake
As we perused the menu, a unique drink caught my eye. The Dandelion Latte was a first for me, and something I've never even come across previously. With a blend of roasted Dandelion and Chicory roots, the drink exhibited an interesting earthy flavour. With great depth and a weak yet present bitter aftertaste, this drink was best combined with the honey served alongside. Bringing with it a range of health benefits including digestion, I didn't need more reason to polish off the drink!
Coming highly recommended by our waitress Tanvi, we started off with the Crispy Calamari. Lightly battered, the crispy outer enclosed beautifully soft and tender calamari within. Nicely seasoned, the freshness of the calamari was able to shine through. This was exceptionally well complemented by the Lime Aioli, which carried a unique and very interesting hint of fresh sourness.
We also enjoyed the Spicy Chicken Wings. Roasted to a nice crispy outer, the wings were well marinated and carried a strong though not overpowering spice. The protein within was juicy and tender, and carried through the spices of the outer. While a cream-based sauce would help balance out the dish and tone down the hotness, the wings were perfectly enjoyable in solitary.
The mains arrived soon after, and we were pleasantly surprised by the Penne Firenze. Cooked with an unapologetically bold tomato base, the pasta was just the right softness, with the beautiful flavours of the rich tomato sauce permeating throughout. With generous chunks of tender chicken and loaded with exceptionally flavourful parmesan, this was very appetising and definitely ranks among the top pasta dishes we've come across.
The Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder was beautifully presented, with taste to match. Exceedingly soft and tender, the lamb simply fell apart and melted away in your mouth. This was well contrasted by an abundance chickpeas and beans, which added great variation in texture. Wrapping it all in the toasted pita, coupled with the sweet and earthy Beetroot relish as well as the creamy and sour spiced curd, this was undoubtedly a unique yet incredibly tasty souvlaki of sorts.
Generously loaded with a variety of fresh, wholesome seafood, the Paella Valencia didn't disappoint. With the Aborio rice within cooked to perfection, with just the right softness without being overly soggy, a strong seafood aroma permeated throughout and is definitely any seafood lovers' paradise. The chorizo slices within were plentiful, though could've benefitted from more charring to bring out additional flavours from the fat. This was a simple, unadulterated paella, that allowed you to truly appreciate the freshness of its seafood.
Dessert arrived, and we sampled the Butterscotch Mousse and Chocolate Caramel Swirl Cheesecake, both decadent and very indulgent. The mousse was light and airy, incredibly smooth with a bold butterscotch flavour. Contrasting the mousse, the cheesecake was exceedingly rich and creamy. Piercing open the cheesy dense outer reveals an inner loaded with thick and gooey caramel, which was well complemented by the whipped cream. This was definitely a sweet tooth's dream come true.
Ending off the evening, we were offered the weekly special Freakshake, which happens to be a Brownie shake. A milky and flavourful chocolate milkshake formed the base, with discernible chunks on nutty, fudgey brownie blended inside. Topped with a mountain of whipped cream and even more chunks of brownie, this shake was incredibly tasty, with a good diversity in texture and, despite all that chocolate, wasn't overly sweet.
While the Prawn Pizza was enjoyable, and exhibited all the qualities of a good pizza, we found it rather unimpressive when compared to the other dishes on offer tonight. Loaded with huge butterflied prawns, this was accompanied by a generous amount of chilli and stringy cheese. With a thin, crispy base and crust throughout, the pizza had a great variety of textures and was very palatable. Though, as can be seen from the photos, this was far from the traditional Italian pizzas I was hoping for, and the lack of a fluffy crust was definitely a tad disappointing.
We were very pleasantly surprised tonight, as this otherwise unassuming restaurant managed to excel in dishing out undeniably tasty meals influenced by a diverse range of countries.
The highlight for me though, was undoubtedly the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder, as the complex flavours and textures made for an absolutely stunning dish, both in looks and taste.
Would Penguin Eat Again?
Absolutely. I'm excited for the future of this excellent eatery and will definitely be back for more, given that they are open for all three meals throughout the day!
We would like to thank Nik at Nicholson for inviting us to sample their menu.