I'd like to be very clear.
I'm a fan of Cookie.
For one very simple reason:
It's always fun.
From the minute you climb the inner city ribbon-round-the-lift staircase and enter the non-descript door, there's just something so lively about the bar/restaurant space with it's noise, clamor and mural drenched walls. It's noisy, yes. But in a 'we're-the-life-of-the-party' kind of way. And when you ask to see the wine list and are presented with a veritable bible of a book, then you know you're in for a good night, and the noise level is understandable.
There's also something really pleasing about the almost too casual service and the fun flirting of the bar staff. Let's face it, what girl doesn't like to batt her eyelashes when she places an order? And it's easy... once you've had dinner, you can just about roll from the restaurant to the bar on the other side of the partition continuing your conversation all the way.
But Cookie didn't just win my heart for its obvious style and convenience. It backs it up with consistently good food. So they might not rotate the menu to maximise seasonality or to catch the latest trend, but it's a reliable Thai fusion feel with signature dishes that never fail to impress.
This visit, I had a friend from Sydney in tow and as well as a Melbourne local, which brings up the proverbial 'you can please some of the people'- but on this occasion, we were 'all of the people' and we were all pleased.
Dishes are best shared and come in the small, medium, large variety priced from $8.50-$38.50 and it's easy enough to add dishes as you go.
Being a fan of hands on puzzle style food, I couldn't wait to order the betel leaf salad with smoked fish, chicken and roasted coconut. Presented on a floral plate the glossy green leaves make an eye catching and sticky-finger fun starter. We tried spooning sedate little heaps of smokey fish into the leaf wrappings, but quickly abandoned such decorum in favour of stuffing the leaves to bursting point and shoveling them into our mouths before they lost their guts.
The mushroom salad was a cool and slippery-slurpy dish to follow- with coriander kicks. And the Thai sausage certainly delivers a chili tasty treat- thank god for the side of cucumber to cool burning lips.
But let me tell you about the pork belly.
Pork belly is a carnivorous delight in any language.
However, when you deep fry it and then smother it in fragrant and coconut-creamy red curry, laced with fresh peppercorns and crunchy green beans, well, then you've taken decadent and upped the ante. There's a crunch in your mouth, followed by an explosion of melted fat and curry.
We licked that bowl clean.
Lady like as we are... We. Licked. It. Clean. And then licked it some more... just for good measure.
Cookie has been on the winners list for sometime and with such a mix of fun, food, inexhaustible booze (of every kind) and inner city chic, it's gonna be there for a while longer yet. Just make sure you book for dinner, order enough of the pork belly to go round and opt for a non-school night- so you can take full advantage of the wine list.
The verdict? Like I said; all of the people, all of the time. What a treat.
Address: First Floor Curtin House,
252 Swanston Street Melbourne CBD
Phone: (03) 9663 7660
Mon-Thurs & Sun: 12noon-2am
Fri & Sat: 12noon-3am