Are ‘celebrity’ restaurants worth the money?

I have been fortunate enough to eat in some great restaurants (usually when someone else is paying) and enjoyed every last mouthful. But when asked to foot the bill at one of Melbourne’s latest ‘celebrity’ restaurants, would I still be happy to indulge?

Nobu is a world renowned Japanese restaurant, with sites in London, New York, Milan and good old Melbourne, to name but a few. Frequented by the stars, it’s not the usual place I would choose to have lunch; personally I can’t be bothered by all the fuss of dressing up to eat. However, this was a special treat for a close family friend who had just graduated, and Nobu was Kirsty’s choice. We even took her mum Donna along for the experience.

Set within the Crown Casino, I wasn’t holding out much hope of being wowed, but the understated wooden interior was beautifully offset by the view of the Yarra and city from the large open windows. Welcomed by friendly staff who were only too happy to seat us by the windows, I started to relax and think this may not be the ordeal I was expecting. There was a broad mix of clientele, from casually dressed diners who had popped in to take a break from shopping, to those dressed to the nines, getting in the spirit of the spring racing carnival.

With much relief to my bank balance, a lunch special was on offer, at $46.50 for two courses. OK, $46.50 is still a lot of money, but it does mean you can sample some of the best Japanese food in Melbourne for a fraction of the cost of the a la carte menu. And I do mean it was some of the best Japanese food I have tasted. Delicate fish tacos, spicy salmon and a miso dressed spinach salad were the starters we had chosen to share. On tasting the spinach salad Kirsty exclaimed that greens had ‘never been so appealing’ and I had to agree. Next was a small bowl of miso soup to cleanse the palate; a little extra I wasn’t expecting. By the time the mains of fish and chips ‘Nobu-style’, Yakimono Beef and Wagyu Gyoza had been devoured, we felt as though we had eaten a full degustation menu.

We battled on in the name of getting our money’s worth and, for an extra $10.50, splurged on dessert. However, two between three was the limit of our full stomachs, and my credit card!

Paying $50 plus for lunch is obviously an extravagance, but even this amount of money doesn’t guarantee a delicious lunch, with good service, in lovely surroundings. Thankfully, Nobu delivered on all fronts.

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