I didn’t really love Lovin’ Lamb. I had their signature lamb skewers, and I just didn’t feel like I connected with them. I did ask for them in a mild heat level because my girlfriend is a spice-o-phobe and because we had already eaten that night so I couldn’t justify getting two sets at differing spice levels, but I just felt that they didn’t have much flavour. Even the mild lamb skewers at competitors such Lamb & Cumin have some salt and cumin flavour, if not explicitly chilli flavour, but these ones at Lovin’ lamb left me wanting.
I’m always willing to give places like this another shot, just in case it was my order that was to blame, rather than the restaurant itself.
It was tricky finding a table anywhere at no notice on our first night in Melbourne, and Lover on Chapel St (the same street where I accidentally bit my partner’s finger at a hot dog restaurant, the now closed Massive Wieners, in 2017) was essentially one of our only options.
I had this meal in a par-cooked state having been awake the previous 36 hours working an intensive care night shift, travelling interstate and sleep-watching through an Aaron Chen comedy gig (my apologies to Mr Chen who, if his set is to believed, lives in the same inner-South-West suburb as me), so I can’t make any real promises about the reproducibility of my findings, and your mileage may vary depending on your level of consciousness.
These fried sweet corn ($10) riblets were great and well priced. The corn was buttery, moist, and well flavoured with lime and chilli, with the chipotle mayo was a good dip pairing. I have only good thoughts about this.
The albacore tuna skewers ($12) were less fantastic, though I think that may be due to the raw fish used rather than any fault of the restaurant itself. I found the albacore tuna to have an unfortunately starchy quality, which perhaps betrays my preference for bluefin in all uses of the fish. The sauce was however sweet and good.
These beef rump skewers ($14) were quite good. The meat was both juicy and tender with minimal charring on the outside, and the apple salad was crisp, fresh, and delicious. The red sauce that this was served alongside was very spicy and fruity, and while it was nice I would’ve been equally happy without it (this opinion may have been different if I had had more than one skewer to myself).
This is the beef crudo ($24) with cured egg yolk and masa. The beef of this beef was cut into huge chunks, which made it a bit weird as I felt like I had to work hard and chew to be rewarded with the flavour inside (which was good). The masa corn chips were very good, extremely thick and well flavoured. They had top tier structural integrity, with crispiness that lasted throughout the duration of the dish, and even though they were designed as a vessel for the meat, they clearly transcended this simple task.
This barramundi ($38) that’s since left the menu was our only main and final course of the night. This was a relatively large piece of barramundi, pan-seared in the traditional sense with a too-hard crispy skin that I thought detracted from the experience. That said, I very much enjoyed the flavour of the cream that the fish was served upon, as well as that of the fried streaks of allium with their strong umami taste and the combination of these flavours with the fish’s flesh. The leek I felt was a bit overplayed, used as a vegetable rather than a condiment, and I feel that all but the world’s greatest leek fans would feel too leaked out by the end of this dish.
This is either the Call Me Maybe ($24) or Melony ($22). I don’t know. I don’t really drink any more.
OVERALL THOUGHTS Pretty good, honestly. Some things were better than others, and by the time this is published all of the things I didn’t like have fallen off their menu and replaced by unknowns, while the things that I liked have remained. Perhaps the next iteration will be even better!
Our party of six went to Del Punto one Thursday evening, looked at the a la carte and tasting menus, pulled out our phones and decided we could do better. Instead of $80 per person for dishes picked by the restaurant we calculated that we could either get one of every item on the menu, or multiples of the things we wanted (read: everything with meat, only one dish without meat) for cheaper. Our waitress’ eyes widened as we finished telling her our order. She told us that we ordered way too much food. John took it a a challenge and ordered some more.
This air conditioner was about as decorative as the flowers surrounding it. Throughout the entire meal we felt like we were working on a quick paced production line. The food kept coming and coming in such rapid succession, with no attention paid to the small geographical size of our table. There was just no way that we could eat so fast so as to clear the table for more dishes to come. It almost felt like they were trying to punish us for ordering so much. Like we were running a spring that had turned into a marathon. Like we were hamsters running on wheels that generated power for the neighbouring town, and we would fall and get churned into the mechanism of the wheel and get crushed if we faltered. Twice during the meal we did ask the kitchen for a pause. It was just too much.
We shared a carafe of Peach, Strawberry, and Mint Sangria ($33.50). It was very refreshing, though not as refreshing as the large quantities of water we drank from reused spirit bottles. The strong flavours of the meal, the close proximity in which we were sitting, the rapid pace of food delivery, and the weak air conditioning meant that our meal was a very warm and thirsty affair.
The duck crepes ($20.50 for 4 pieces) were quite nice. They were served drizzled in a plum sauce, kind of reminiscent of what you would get in a Chinese restaurant. They were however much meatier than their Chinese counterparts, and as the first dish of the night really did herald a very meaty meal overall.
The garlic prawns ($23.50) pan fried and served with “a hint of chilli and parsley” were pretty good. The prawns were large and juicy, and there were quite a few for the price and location. The hint of chilli and parsley were just hints, however. They were very much garlic prawns, as advertised.
The beef empanadas (4 for $19.50, 6 for $28.50) were pretty good. Freshly fried with a nice filling of beef brisket and caramelised onion. I quite enjoyed the freshness of the jalapeno and feta dipping sauce.
I thought the salt and pepper whitebait ($17.50) was a bit weak. They were quite oily and salty, which aside from being dangerous to the coronaries are also not great to taste. My colleagues thought that they were OK when matched with the aioli, but I think that if I were to ever come back I would skip it entirely.
The chicken skewers (4 for $17.50, 6 for $25.50) marinated in yoghurt, paprika & oregano were pretty good!. I think they were tenderloins but my colleagues thought they were cut up breast. Regardless of what part of the chicken they came from they were quite tender and moist. The bed of rocket on which the chicken was served was demolished by one of my colleagues keen to get in his daily fibre intake. Ultimately though I think it was a mistake to get them, as they also came included in the paella.
Del Punto’s Lamb skewers (4 for $25.50, 6 for $38.50) were also very good but quite expensive. The meat was marinated in chimichurri, and very tender and flavourful. The sweet potato crisps on top were superfluous though I’m sure someone enjoyed them.
The Plato de Baleares ($16.50) with grilled halloumi, asparagus and cherry tomato in a pomegranate reduction was delicious. The cherry tomatoes were extremely juicy and made for the perfect burst of flavour and freshness when popped in the mouth.
I enjoyed the Baby Octopus ($18.50), topped with basil oil, lemon and lime juices, pesto, and sun dried tomato. The flavours were well balanced, and the octopus tender. This is some of the best octopus I’ve had recently.
The Pork Belly ($28.50 for 4 pieces, $43.50 for 6 pieces), is one of Del Punto’s house specialties and a real delight. The pieces of pork are very large, thick, and juicy, served with its crispy skin intact. The shots of green apple and brandy sauce added a welcome dimension of tart freshness. I can recommend this dish.
The Prawn & Chorizo skewers (4 for $19.50, 6 for $30.50) were pretty good, with big juicy prawns and slices of chorizo. This was our second prawn dish and first chorizo dish. We would soon feel the weight of repeated ingredients.
The sea scallops (4 for $20.50, 6 for $30.50) with sliced morcilla blood sausage served on a bed of pea puree I could’ve gone without. The scallops were small and unimpressive, as were the flavours. I’ve certainly paid less for better scallop dishes.
The Tumbet ($17.50) – layers of potato, eggplant & grilled capsicum topped with fried tomato & garlic – was our only vegetarian dish and the biggest disappointment of the night. It was all a bit mushed together, with no contrasting textures or flavours to really define its different components.
Our second chorizo dish, aptly named Chorizo ($17.50) consisted of longitudinally sliced chorizo with zucchini ribbons. This chorizo dish did nothing to really set itself out from the chorizo in the prawn and chorizo skewers. A mistake.
Del Punto’s Paella (Mediana size – $65) is their other signature dish, and a stark reminder of why we shouldn’t have just ordered everything that looked yummy on the menu. Notable repeats of this dish included 6 chicken skewers that were identical to the previous 6 chicken skewers, as well as a bunch of chorizo and prawn. That aside, and even though I was absolutely full at this point, this paella was the best paella I’ve ever had. I loved the flavorful and moist rice, mixed in with diced chorizo and pipis. My friends were less impressed however, being more widely eaten in the Spanish cuisines. A few of them thought that the bottom of the paella wasn’t extra-crisped enough. I didn’t realise that was a criteria for judgement.
VERDICT Overall we had a good but sweaty time at Del Punto.
Protips for dining at Del Punto include:
Avoid the set menu, just pick what you want. You will get more food for less money
If the waitress gives you an uneasy look and tells you you’ve ordred too much food, she probably knows better than your mate who has no stretch receptors in his stomach.
Make a special point to ask the kitchen to go slowly, and make sure to ask for pauses if you need. Otherwise they will try to feed you all at once until you drown.
If you’re going to get the paella, don’t double or triple up by getting all its constituent ingredients as share plates.
Del Punto 40 St Pauls St, Randwick NSW 2031 (02) 9398 2027