16 Jan The Piano, Richmond
Thai food seems to have earned a special place in the hearts of Melbournians of late. Since 2013, The Piano has been serving contemporary Thai cuisine with a touch of finesse, brought to us by ex-Longrain chefs Tommy and Arte.
Taking its place near the entrance is the eponymous German vintage piano, left behind by previous tenants, The Qualia Lounge. Not just a random fancy, the piano also pays homage to the site adjacent to the restaurant, which was operated as a piano maker in the 1800s.
Like the piano, the restaurant is fitted out with plenty of warm woods and exudes a relaxed and friendly charm. It’s popularity was evidenced by numerous reservations on the night and a booming takeaway trade. But don’t let the availability of a takeaway service fool you – the food here much better than your average local Thai.
The night began with a handful of cocktails. The refreshing Apple Mojito Mocktail with its muddled fresh mint, lime and apple juice was a welcome relief from the weather, and the Crazy Lady Boy with vodka, tequila, strawberry, apple juice, sliced chilli, and lime had an interesting kick.
Kicking off the food portion of our dinner, our taste buds were awakened by the vegetable version of their Betel Leaf. Topped with pomelo, flat leaf coriander, mint, green papaya, peanuts and toasted coconut, it was slightly spicy with subtle hints of kaffir lime and the pomelo was beautifully refreshing.
Though its description sounded simple on the menu, the soft shell crab with tamarind spicy sauce and black pepper was very well executed. It was truly crispy all over and the sweet flesh of the soft shell crab was juicy and notably fresh.
The invigorating combination of green papaya, carrot, tomato, snake beans, peanuts, chilli and lime juice made up the Som Tum (green papaya salad). It had a perfect balance of sweet and sour and was a wonderfully fresh accompaniment for the mains that were to follow.
Cooked over four hours, the lamb shank massaman curry was tender and flavoursome, and not too creamy, rich or heavy.
The Piano’s signature dish is the Piano Crispy Duck. Twice cooked and dressed with spicy soy, the duck lay on a bed of baby corn and snake beans, and was topped with crispy Thai basil. The duck was crispy and tender, just as intended, and the combination of chilli, baby corn, and fried basil was exciting and punchy. Even once all the duck had been devoured, we couldn’t help sweeping up every last morsel with mouthfuls of rice.
To finish, the smooth Piano Panna Cotta was served with a variety of fresh fruit, including cubed palm seeds, and coconut ice cream on the side.
Both the food and service at The Piano was top-notch, and definitely ranks highly amongst the better Thai restaurants in Melbourne. I’ve not been too impressed by Thai food in Melbourne recently, but The Piano has really helped turned my opinions around.
Disclaimer: I was invited to The Piano as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way
The Piano Restaurant & Bar
18-20 Bridge Rd
Richmond, VIC, 3121
(03) 9428 9385