Juliana Mare’s blogger group, the Melbourne Foodie Hub celebrated their first group dinner at St Cloud Eating House with a banquet dinner that lifted them all onto cloud nine!
You ain’t never seen Vietnamese food like this before! St Cloud, located in Hawthorn, is bringing a modern edge to traditional Vietnamese fare with dishes like pork belly and spring rolls reinvented to align seamlessly with Melbourne’s edgy foodie scene.
It’s not uncommon for restaurants these days to offer larger plates, which are designed for sharing. St Cloud’s dinner menu lists six ‘Share between 2’ plates, one of which is guaranteed to cause an argument over who gets the last bite.
Tender is an understatement because the two enormous slabs of pork belly, served swimming in a sticky and sweet caramel sauce, fell apart with just the tiniest of tugs from the fork.
It was pulled pork before the pull. Each piece of pork acted as a sponge for the generous ladles of sauce in the bowl, which infused every bite.
The sauce is well balanced thanks to the pickled chilli and black pepper, which deliver a noticeable heat without overpowering the sweetness from the caramel.
It’s an absolute must to order rice with this dish so you can mop up every last drop of sauce from the bowl. Seriously, if St Cloud sold this by the bottle, I would have purchased at least dozen!
Boasting a menu that’s 97.7% vegan friendly and gluten free, it’s no surprise that the pumpkin side dish was another crowd please at our table.
Every piece of pumpkin was deliciously soft enough for a newborn but the chilli oil packed a punch of heat that was definitely not baby-safe!
This dish was the best example of how St Cloud is showcasing tried-and-tested, traditional flavours but with a level of innovation and modernity, which sets their menu apart from any other Vietnamese joint in Melbourne.
Chilli, ginger and garlic are a popular spice mix in Vietnamese cuisine and St Cloud have paired these flavours in their pumpkin dish with crispy spring onion, garlic shoots and puffed rice.
The simple addition of these crunchy textures makes a world of difference, transforming this dish from a simple side to a table standout.
Every dish from our 9-course banquet delivered quirky surprises like this and perhaps the most surprising was one of the desserts; dragon fruit panna cotta.
A plate worthy of an exhibition at the National Gallery, the panna cotta itself had the perfect wobble and a texture that was smoother than the finest Chinese silk.
While a traditional Italian dessert, St Cloud put their unique spin on panna cotta by infusing the tropical and tangy flavour of dragon fruit, which is popular across Asia.
This was a fantastic fusion dessert and a wonderfully light way to end the meal. While there are no desserts on the menu, St Cloud is known for having a variety of panna cotta flavours so remember to ask the wait staff for the daily dessert special!
It’s an odd feeling walking out of St Cloud after a meal. It’s a state of utter fullness (because there’s no way you didn’t devour every bite of your order) but you’ll feel light as a feather.
It’s as if you’re floating on cloud nine, in the most blissful food coma.