Ms. Elwood is the latest addition to Elwood’s Ormond Road, serving up Asian Fusion in a sleek, funky environment. We visited on only it’s second day open, and just – wow – from the seamless service, to the amazing food Ms. Elwood just raised the bar for Bayside dining.
Situated at the far end of Ormond Road (to me – you know, the one I said I hate walking the extra distance too not so long ago) I was worried it would feel a little lonely, with it’s main companion The Joinery being very much “behind closed doors”, but Ms. Elwood didn’t care, they slapped a neon pink sign on the wall, turned the music up (but not to an annoying level), and threw their doors open wide. The result: a simple, yet eclectic restaurant where everyone from 3 year olds to couples in their mid-forties were accommodated and appeared to be having a great time.
We were greeted and shown immediately to our pre-booked table where we were presented with complementary glasses of bubbles (the restaurant doesn’t have it’s liquor license yet – which I was told prior to booking, so this was a lovely touch and definitely created the mood of a celebration). The staff were cheerful, friendly and attentive and they hit the perfect balance of being alert to our needs and prompt, without tipping the balance into rushed and annoying. We watched as one red-headed staff member flawlessly accommodated walk ins, navigated the tricky challenge of explaining there’s no liquor license on a Friday night and picked up on every small detail, from noting when people were sharing dishes and providing them with additional plates, to immediately filling up empty water bottles. All of this, while making every customer feel like she was so grateful they had chosen Ms. Elwood – in a full restaurant, that’s been open for two days! Ms. Elwood, all of your staff were great, but whoever this lady is, hold on tight and never let her go.
We ordered the pork and spring onion gyoza, I had the Huon Salmon with a side of steamed rice and Mr. Boring had the Duck Ramen. The gyoza were some of the softest and tastiest I’ve ever eaten. They were light, with a good balance of filling to wrapper – I had to bribe Mr. Boring to eat one by telling him it was a Japanese sausage roll, but then I looked up and practically had to prise my second one out of his grasp! The dressing worked perfectly, it had a fresh taste and was noticeable without overpowering the lovely flavour of the dumplings.
Now in my head, nothing about my salmon should have worked (green curry sauce is too strong a flavour and should overpower the salmon resulting in the dish not having a hero, and cauliflower is pointless, not tasting of anything at the best of times), however, the declaration from the guy on the next table that it was the “best thing he had ever eaten” significantly raised my expectations. Thankfully, it was AMAZING! The salmon was cooked to perfection, balanced with just enough green curry sauce to create a beautiful, unique flavour that I just adored, and the cauliflower was crisp and added a different texture to the meal, making it more interesting and enjoyable to eat. I didn’t get to try the duck ramen (I was too busy fighting for my gyoza) but M.B. said it had a “ducky taste” – eventual translation after many questions: the broth had a strong meaty flavour which he liked, and he enjoyed the texture of the duck and felt it was well cooked. He ate it all, apart from a few mushrooms, so that’s a very good sign.
Overall, Ms. Elwood was a foodie dream – interesting, excellently cooked food and exceptional service. The price point was in-line with what I would expect to pay for dinner in Elwood. It’s bad points: they’d ran out of matcha doughnuts for dessert. Not much of a criticism really for a newly opened place. If you guys can produce this in 48 hours, I can wait to see what you’ll be like in 6 months. Stay saucy Ms. Elwood, stay saucy!