Royal Botanical Gardens, Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra 3004 ph (03) 9691 3888
A day out to the Botanical Gardens brought an impromptu visit to Jardin Tan, the Shannon Bennett backed Vietnamese fusion restaurant that opened in the Gardens last year. As such we didn't have a booking, and so could only order from the bar menu, but we didn't have any expectations so it wasn't a big deal.
We started off with some drinks, including an expensive but delicious coconut ($7). Lemonades from a large dispenser was refreshing at $4 a glass.
And followed with a Vietnamese coffee. Happy that it was a traditional Vietnamese drip coffee, although I did see other ice coffees served a cute beaker.
We started with Cha GioThit Heo ($14) which was a Vietnamese pork spring roll. This was quite delicious and had a bit of a spicy kick to them. (Even without the chilli garnishing the rolls). Unfortunately we only found that out after giving one to Bubs only to have him start crying and polish off an entire glass of lemonade to put out the fire. Bad parents!
Next up another spicy dish in Ga Chien ($18) which was fried chicken with a firecracker sauce. This was really more-ish and I definitely would have liked more for the price but I also recognise that this is no ordinary eatery at your local park.
We also shared a Banh Mi Tom Hum ($22) which was their lobster roll. This was very delicious.
We then ordered a dessert platter ($9) which came with 3 desserts randomly picked out by our server from their selection. Macaron Monster however was very keen on their creme brulee so we ordered one of those as well ($4). There was a mousse with passionfruit curd, a raspberry cream filled choux pastry and a coconut and palm sugar panna cotta if I recall correctly.
After that we had a fabulous walk through the botanical gardens. New things we have noticed include a gondola ride in the waterways ($65 for a family) and the children's play area. We brought along our Timmy Junior which is a toy I remember from my childhood and the kids had a ball flying it and learning about kinetic energy from their science geek parents.
We returned to the outside cafe area of Jardin Tan for afternoon tea, and had a couple of donuts (blackberry jam and passionfruit curd).......
as well as some choc tops to cool off after an afternoon of fun.
All in all an afternoon at the botanical gardens is a free, fun place to go with kids. The addition of Jardin Tan means that you have the option of dining in style, with delicious food in a lovely setting. The food and prices are far, far away from what I remember of my own visits to the gardens when I was little!