Passionflower

Name: Passionflower
Location: Shop 2, 168 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD
Price range: $5-48. Yes, forty-eight dollars.
Cost rating: 1/5
Taste overall: 4/10
Overall score: 3/10
Would I come here again? No.

Passionflower is overrated. I am not a fan of Passionflower. I have not yet met a place that I disliked as much as Passionflower. Go spend your $5 (minimum $5) on some other place like New Zealand Natural or Baskins 31. Even better, take your $5 and play icecream roulette at your local asian grocer that stocks cheap icecreams with names in languages you can’t read. For those who are fans of Passionflower, my apologies for raining on your parade. But I will list reasons why I dislike this place.

Why is it overrated, you may begin to wonder. I found it severely overpriced. I mean $8 for a scoop of icecream (that seems to taste of Peters Vanilla) in something that tastes like Nescafe Instant coffee with added grit at the bottom? Or pancakes that seem to be reheated hotcakes from the supermarket for $14? Or $12 for three small scoops of icecream? (Scoops are the size of a lime, roughly 7cm in diameter.)
If it is so pricey, then surely there must be good service, presentation, novelty in the exotic asian flavours and excellent icecream to be had.
Service is appalling. We’ve all heard horror stories about the waiter from hell, or the head of house with the rare ability to quadruple-book dinners, or the Typhoid Mary-esque chef with gangrene (to complicate matters, and for narration.) Then be assertive and call the wait-staff to serve you, one may suggest. Attention is the least of their problems. There is no greeting, not even a nod or glance to acknowledge your existence.
“Hi! A group of thirteen?”

A group of thirteen people. You need space for thirteen people, maybe in two lots due to seating arrangements and availability of free seats. When the staff had finally comprehended the situation and discussed it between themselves, we had arranged the tables and chairs ourselves. Good job.

Presentation of food is actually quite good. The three scoops of icecream appear in a martini glass. I’d rather have a real martini though. The ‘Masterpiece’ dessert (pictures below) is visually appealing. The tables and chairs are a sleek silver, and the seats are a stripey black and silver. The place looks good, and so does its food.

Novelty asian flavours. There are asian flavours, such as black sesame, pandan, red bean, durian and taro. Novelty? Not really. I could get any one of those icecreams from around the corner in Chinatown. So, for the ordinary person who doesn’t go pillaging asian grocers for strange adn wonderful things, Passionflower might offer exotic flavours. (I think people should visit speciality grovers more often. You never know what you might find.)

Delicious icecream. I would disagree. The taste is very bland and too diluted in the wide expanse of creamy filler to actually be a flavoursome icecream. The texture is also subpar. I believe they need to reset their freezers to be actually negative 20 degrees celcius, for the icecream is already near drinkable by the time it reaches your table. It is way too soft and ‘warm’. I love ice cream, and I can go into the merits and downfalls of different icecream preparations with you if you are willing to lend me an ear to gnaw on. But in short, their icecream is a disappointment.

BLACK SESAME BALL ICECREAM COCKTAIL

Unexpectedly/ Peanuts and rice balls were best/ Nutty cocktail

Price: $12
Contains: Black sesame icecream, a pink icecream, peanut powder, glutinous rice balls coated in a mixture of toasted black sesame, roasted peanuts and sugar.

Disappointing icecream aside, the glutinous rice balls with the nutty coating is tasty. They need to have a separate dish with just that on it.

GEISHA ICECREAM COCKTAIL

Neat presentation/ Um, green tea and vanilla?/ Equates to geisha?

Price: $12
Contains: Green tea icecream, lychee-rose icecream, coconut icecream, diced canned peaches.

I liked the look of this the best. I didn’t taste any of the icecreams, but I certainly hope that the green tea icecream didn’t taste like the green tea mousse.

CHOCOLATE ICECREAM COCKTAIL

Choco martini/ Seems like the safer option/ But unexciting

Price: $12
Contains: Chocolate icecream, vanilla icecream, and something else.

AFFOGATO

Espresso, icecream/ All-rounder tasty dessert/ How can it go wrong?

An affogato should be a scoop of icecream with a shot of espresso coffee on top. It’s a fantastic dessert. According to the person who had this, the icecream was too milky and tasteless, the coffee tastes of instant coffee and the bottom of the glass had coffee grounds. Anybody who has had any experience with a coffee machine will be able to tell you that obtaining a coffee-tasting coffee from a coffee machine is as simple as pressing a button. How can you screw up an espresso? I can see how some espressos are worlds better than others, but it is difficult to get a bad espresso provided your coffee machine is calibrated.

MASTERPIECE

Easy on the eyes/ Tasteless beyond redemption/ Masterpiece, my foot

Price: $25 (+$2 surcharge for banana, banana production is still hurting from floods in Queensland)
Conatins: Two rolls of chocolate crepe with banana inside, mini pancakes with jam and cream, green tea mousse, coffee mousse, a wafer boat with three scoops of icecream: taro, vanilla and another purple one with seedy bits in it.

I feel incredibly cheated. If this was a fantastic platter, then I’d be happy to chip in for the $27, but it isn’t. I should go get a platter of desserts from Hanabi on King St, for roughly the same price and mark it as the bar. The standard that every other place must follow in order to charge $27 for a platter of desserts.

Chocolate-banana crepes: The crepes are okay, they are soft and chocolatey, almost rubbery. Somehow they lack the caramelised panfried ‘baked goods’ taste about them. It’s the banana that gets me riled up. I am sure that the banana used in the crepes are not the usual kind of banana we grow in Queensland. They taste like the imported sugar bananas, and when the crepes are unravelled, the looks remarkably like sugar bananas. (I have eaten my fair share of sugar bananas in my life. I am quite sure I can spot them in a banana cake mixed in with Qld bananas. They have a distinct taste and smell about them.) So, why charge the extra $2 for bananas that aren’t even affected by the cyclone that tore up banana plantations in Queensland? To me, that’s just dishonest.

Mini pancakes with jam and cream: Wait for it, I nearly have no words for this. Pancakes taste like supermarket pancakes, simply reheated and replated. I understand that a restaurant doesn’t do everything from scratch, there simply isn’t enough time to. But to replace a product that is simple to prepare, quick to cook with a vastly inferior product to fill out a dessert platter is unacceptable. To add to the insult, the jam presentation leaves me wanting. Surely, using a spoon to get a neat dome of jam is easy enough? The cream is aerosol-can cream. Whipping cream and piping it out is not a gigantuous feat either. Whipped cream is used in so many of their platters and desserts that surely having a delicious cream is a good investment for them. I cannot comprehend the reasoning why anybody would place these terrible pancakes, jam and aerosol cream onto a dessert platter and see that is it accceptable. I am disappointed.

Green tea mousse: The little shotglass it comes in is cute. It is a pity about the taste. The consistancy and flavour of the ‘green tea’ ‘mousse’ is not dissimilar to tasteless wasabi made from a powder. The floury texture, the green colour, the powdery taste with no discernable flavour about it, that is Passionflower’s green tea mousse. In addition to this, the bottom of the shot glass is filled with cake crumbs. Why cake crumbs? Why not a piece of cake?

Coffee mousse: The coffee mousse was better than the green tea mouse. It didn’t taste of real coffee, but at this point, I didn’t have much hope for it. Nothing to say about this one except that it was average.

Wafer boat icecreams: The scoops are all small, as I had said earlier. The wafer boat is a nice touch. I like the wafer boat. It was drenched in icecream by the time to finished it though, so it was like eating soggy weetbix. All the icecreams at PF are creamy, and diluted in their flavours from the overly milky formula. Let that be a warning to you. The vanilla icecream is a disappointment. It’s not bad in itself, but as an iceccremery, I expect their vanilla to be better than your average Peters Vanilla icecream. It isn’t. The mysery icecream with seeds isn’t too bad, but it doesn’t taste of much. The seeds offer texture, but I find that there were too many seeds. I’ve heard glowing reviews for their taro icecream, and while this was my favourite icecream flavour out of the three, their taro icecream doesn’t deserve an eulogy.

All in all, the Masterpiece is a disappointment and I wish for you to consider eating at other icecream places.

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