07 Feb Bang Bang at the Rifle Club, Elsternwick
After holding a pop-up last year at The Boatbuilder’s Yard, Bang Bang has found permanent digs in Elsternwick, settling into the former Caulfield Rifle Club building right next to Elsternwick station. Access via the sloping walkway on Glenhuntly Road will bring you to the main entrance, but the rear also opens up into the adjacent Elsternwick Plaza. The indoors section blends almost seamlessly with the outside, especially when the windows are opened out, giving diners a view of the peaceful surrounds as well as a choice of indoors or al fresco dining
Head chef Matthew Dunbar has created a menu which takes cues from Indochine (mainland Southeast Asia) and French cuisine. The vision for the Bang Bang is for it to be a flexible space: come in for breakfast, hang around all day at the bar, or wander in for dinner. There’s a list of bar snacks and a separate day time menu, which changes up for the weekend.
At dinnertime you can indulge in small bites like the tasty and tender confit duck on betel leaf, or go for a vegetarian version with the juicy, tart and slightly bitter pomelo. Giant char-grilled King Prawns are surprisingly well handled, considering their immense size, and the charred aroma and flavour brings forth memories of warm weather dining.
I haven’t had a soft tofu salad for a while, let alone one with avocado in it. Bang Bang’s version is seasoned with mint, black vinegar, ginger and a showering of sesame seeds. It’s more tasty than it looks. It’s the perfect time of the year to appreciate seafood, and the kingfish sashimi with caramelised cashew is a refreshing, tangy, and slightly spicy ode to summer. Little pops of saltiness from trout roe gives extra excitement to the tastebuds, and the fish disappears all too quickly.
Fried chicken is a sure crowd-pleaser in almost any eatery. Bang Bang’s crispy chicken ribs are encased in a very crunchy, rippled spiced batter. They come with a sriracha sauce for dipping, but the juicy ribs are tasty even without it. For some more hands on action, wrap up slices of Chargrilled Pork Neck in iceberg lettuce leaves and dob it with red pepper jaew.
Moving on to the larger share plates, we come to the Roasted Pumpkin Curry with kipfler potato, cinnamon and anise curry. It’s a rich curry that’s redolent of spices and perfect for doling out over steamed rice. The Chargrilled Cape Grim Short Rib is an impressive thing. Its wild ginger and holy basil broth is thinner and lighter than the pumpkin curry. The more sour-leaning flavours match well the richer cut of meat. At first the meat seems tough when attempting to cut into it, but after the initial incision we’re rewarded with very succulent meat that pulls easily away from the bone.
We end with the Black Sticky Rice dessert, which comes with pandan sweet cream, mango, and coconut sorbet. The pandan cream has a slight saltiness to it, and could do with a stronger pandan flavour, but the filling sticky rice component is complemented well by a beautifully refreshing sorbet, and fresh mango.
Bang Bang brings exotic flavours to Elsternwick in a beautifully designed restaurant that offers a different food experience at various times of the day. The memories of the mains alone leave me very open to a revisit.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Bang Bang RC as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
Bang Bang at The Rifle Club
294 Glenhuntly Road
Elsternwick VIC 3185
(03) 8692 2680