Arintji at Federation Square

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I don’t get excited about restaurants very often, nor do I do a lot of restaurant reviews, but its not often you come across a restaurant that you just LOVE and want to rave about to anyone and everyone.
For me, that’s Arintji. 
Located at Federation Square in Melbourne’s CBD, its one restaurant that I just can’t go past.
For me its ticked all the boxes:
– Best location.
– Best entrée (Fried Haloumi Salad).
– Best Lamb dish (24hr Braised Lamb).
– Best service (I have never ever had better!).
– Best waiter knowledge of the foods served.
– Best waiter patience and attendance (ever!).
– Best heating.
– Awesome decor.
– Interesting design feature for bathroom placement (its down the windy stairs in the middle of the restaurant, yet it doesn’t seem like a strange location when you’re there).

And its also got a lot of items on the menu that I can actually eat. I’ll admit to being a bit of a fussy eater, because I don’t eat red or processed meats, so finding a dish can be tricky at some places. Like, why does almost every chicken dish have an accompaniment of bacon?! I’ll never understand why you want to ruin chicken that way, however, in the interest of keeping on track, I’ll make my point: Arintji has a lot of good meals available and many are Marielle friendly. Check out the menu here to see what I mean.

I have been to Arintji twice now and both times I ordered the fried haloumi salad with candied walnuts and pear. It was spectacular. Its a nice and light salad with a great taste followed by a hunk of warm cheesy haloumi. It so yum – I just can’t stress this enough. And its big enough to share between two. I made that mistake the first time and just couldn’t finish it all so the second time I shared it with my aunt. 

The fried haloumi salad with candied walnuts and pear.
In the background is the twice baked cheese soufflé. 

When we went to Arintji recently with relatives, my uncle ordered the twice cooked cheese soufflé. Its the picture at the top of this post, and it looks incredible. I missed out on tasting it, but my husband shared it with my uncle and they were raving about how good it was. I can’t wait to go back and try it myself.

Arintji always seem to have lamb on the menu, and its not just any old lamb. It’s always some version of 24 hour braised lamb and thats what makes it so good – its melt in your mouth lamb that me as a non-red meat eater might be willing to try! The first time we went my husband had the lamb with Moroccan flavours. It was covered in spices and served with labne (Middle Eastern yoghurt cheese) and pomegranate seeds. He really loved it and even overate because he just couldn’t stop. The second time we went he had the lamb again, but this time it had English flavours, served with peas and broad beans and parsnip chips with creamy potato mash. 

24 Hour braised lamb with beans, mash and parsnip chips. 

Then there was the cottage pie my uncle ordered. It also had a creamy mash on top and it looked really delicious. As we went on a chilly night, this was the perfect warming meal. In fact it was the perfect filling meal as well because none of us had any dessert that night because we were all so full. But we did have plenty of drinks that night too, with coffees all round after the meal.

Cottage pie. It looks so good I want one and I’m not a red meat eater!

The last dish was my own. I’d seen it the first time we went and asked the waitress all about it that first time but hadn’t ordered it until the second time we went. I had the chargrilled harissa chicken which turned out to be a spatchcock flattened and barbecued and served with chimichurri sauce, corn and sour cream. I really like the flavours of this one and it just looks spectacular on the plate, don’t you think?

This was my chargrilled harissa with chimichurri sauce,
corn and sour cream. Yum. 

I have to say that the one thing that really stood out for me, besides the beautiful food, was the quality of the waiters and waitresses. The first time we were served by a man and a woman and the second time by a guy from Ireland. They all knew a lot about the foods the restaurant served and were able to recommend dishes for us that we all enjoyed. They were friendly and willing to chat, with the Irish guy really listening to my uncle’s stories and helping him make the perfect beer selection for his meal. Its a pity I can’t remember his name because I thought he was really good. He also told us that night that it was the first night of the new menu so if we had any suggestions or comments he and the chefs were eager to hear about how the meals had been received. I loved being told that straight up, and it helped me to take a keener interest in how everything was presented, tasted and the combinations of flavours.

Really, there is nothing else I can say because this has to be the best restaurant I have been to in a long while. I’ve had a few disappointments recently, but Arintji is one I won’t forget. If you’re in Melbourne soon, pop into Arintji and take a look for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

And if you can’t get to Melbourne, then check out the Arintji gallery of photos here so you know what I’m talking about.

Have you been to Arintji? What do you think? How were your meals? Or do you actually know how to pronounce the name properly? Let me know by leaving a comment.


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