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Ayatana - Fine Dining Thai With A Modern Twist

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Ayatana is a modern Thai restaurant and Bar in a classy precinct of Chapel St in Windsor. Come here for a fine dining Thai experience with a modern twist. You won't find the usual Thai menu of chicken skewers, pad thai and traditional dishes. What you will find is a creative modern version of Thai fare with strong punchy Thai flavours still to the fore. Dishes are not predictable but bold and creative and the mantra of hot, sour, salty and sweet is very much in play says Tony (one of the owners). 

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And an Ayatana you will discover an incredibly comprehensive wine list with pages and pages of wines from most significant Australian and New Zealand wine regions. I looked across and saw an iconic Leconfield Merlot at the next table. Tony is a wine enthusiast and really knows his wines. With many Thai restaurants offering house wines and a small selection of wines I found the extensive list at Ayatana to be a winner.

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I dined at Ayatana as a guest of the restaurant. As a popular restaurant on Urbanspoon I was interested to see the quality and how it compares to other Thai restaurants around town. I came away thinking this is a distinctive restaurant that impresses. All ingredients are fresh and locally sourced.

This Betel leaf starter above was a decent punch of flavour featuring a crispy prawn. The best way to eat Betel leaf is to pick it up and wrap the filling in the leaf...

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Ayatana is an intimate fine dining restaurant with warm coloured walls, modern fit out, mood lighting including a stunning chandelier and candles on the tables, and friendly service. The ideal place to catch up with a friend, that romantic occasion, or with a small group. The presentation of the dishes is first class. This entree above was superbly presented as a stack and the Light tempura tiger prawns were fresh and well cooked with Tai flavours accompanying. I'm glad I ordered this but I heard the words "Soft Shell Crab" at several tables around me - obviously popular also...

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I'm a lover of pork belly and have developed a list of the best pork belly in Melbourne. This dish was magnificent and goes straight into my list. As an entree it was filling. Four large pieces of caramelised crispy pork belly... It looked compelling when it arrived and it tasted as good as it looked. Again this dish was presented as a stack with fresh salad and Thai flavours surrounding. I savoured every morsel of this delectable pork belly.

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Here's another picture of the pork belly...

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The restaurant filled with groups of friends and intimate couples. Funky music played over the speakers. The mood lighting kicked in as night fell. I observed how friendly the staff are - softly spoken and service with a cheery disposition. I also noticed that I was greeted on arrival (and when I left they held the door open and said goodbye)...

The Lamb shank Massaman curry was a great example of Thai cuisine with a modern twist. I can't say I've ever had lamb Massaman before - usually beef - and this dish was so impressive. Rich massaman curry with lamb cutting easily off the shank and so tender. The sweet potato went well with the lamb and the curry. The accompanying rice was scooped into the curry to absorb these great flavours.

Other mains looked great including the Duck and the Barramundi.

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Ayatana features Thai photo scenes on the walls which enhances the intimate and personal atmosphere.

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Having eaten so much I still opted for the Steamed banana dessert. Wonderfully steamed banana in sauce with quality ice cream. Simple but effective.

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Ayatana is an engaging restaurant with wonderful cuisine (several home runs tonight), friendly service with a passionate foodie owner on site, and a great ambience. I highly recommend the Pork belly and the Lamb shank Massaman - yet I see people also rave about the Duck and the crispy Barramundi. One of the best Thai restaurants in Melbourne...

Ayatana on Urbanspoon

Tagged in: Fine Dining Thai
David Hagger is a bald headed man with a penchant for finery, convivial dining, and festive culture. He honestly believes Melbourne is an impressive global city.

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Guest Tuesday, 02 September 2014