Chancery Lane (off Pall Mall), Bendigo
Phone: 03 5444 5885
I recently travelled up to Bendigo with Mr N. There was a little trepidation on my part, as it was the first time I’d met some of his family, but I was also eager to learn more about his childhood and see where he grew up. Not that I’ve never been to Bendigo or anything; I grew up in Swan Hill, so Bendigo was our half-way pit stop when driving on family trips to Melbourne.
My friend Mr I had also visited Bendigo not so long ago, and he highly recommended that we visit The Dispensary, a cute little restaurant tucked away in an arcade in central Bendigo. Mr N was dying to catch up with his old friend Miss S, who had recently graduated from her studies, so it was an apt place for a little celebration!
The place was pretty empty on a Tuesday night, but it’s a fairly small place, so it felt pretty cosy still, especially given the cold winds outside! The staff were pretty congenial, though I couldn’t help but feel there was an air of snobbery about the service.
I had the lamb two ways – I think it was the backstrap and a rib cutlet? With a pumpkin puree, wilted silverbeet and a wonderfully spiced couscous. It was well cooked, but I couldn’t help but think there could have been a bit more lamb on my plate. Especially when you consider Mr N and Miss S’s dishes…
Miss S had a pork loin with spiced cauliflower and poached pear, I believe? Memory FAIL. In any case, she assured me that she’s not often a fan of pork, but this dish won her over. She also had trouble finishing it, such was the size of the loin placed in front of her!
Mr N was in the mood for a steak, and boy did he get one! I think this bad boy was a 400gm rib eye still on the bone. It didn’t come with any sides, but that was OK, because we’d also ordered…
… arguably the best beer-battered chips in Bendigo. They came with aioli.
I filled myself up on those chips, so by the time we came around to ordering dessert, we thought we’d just share some. Home made sorbets – from top to bottom: Jasmine milk sorbet, salted caramel ice cream, mango ice cream. I couldn’t get enough of the jasmine milk sorbet, which made me a little sadly nostalgic for Casa del gelato‘s jasmine gelato. Sadly, they don’t make it anymore.
We also shared some chocolate fudge. Those two little cubes are deceptive. There’s about a family block of chocolate flavour packed into them! So very good – and at $4.50, quite possibly the greatest value on the menu.
Having grown up in country Victoria, a place like the Dispensary isn’t something I would have expected to find. There’s definitely an urban sophistication which you’d associate with fine dining in the big smoke, but yet reading the menu, there is a connectedness to the local producers which explains the quality of the food being served. Next time we go and visit Mr N’s folks, we’ll be sure to visit again!