Saturday, 2 November 2013

He Says She Says

1101 Toorak Rd
Camberwell, VIC 

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. I remember reading a review of brunch at He Says She Says a couple of years back. Fast forward to 2013, and I’m sharing a meal at the same restaurant with the same blogger that wrote that review, as well as another three kindred blogger spirits

Standing proudly at the junction of Burwood Highway and Toorak Road, He Says She Says is a generous building splayed with murals of eye catching black and yellow. Designed as a modern dining hall, it’s a beautifully sophisticated space that’s airy and bright, yet cosy and warm on a cold spring-almost-summer Melbourne afternoon. 

With the arrival of spring (well, the theoretical arrival, as Melbourne’s weather remains as disgusting as ever), He Says She Says has revamped their menu, with the help of their head chef who formerly worked at the well known Middle-Eastern restaurant, Maha. Unsurprisingly, the menu has become a Modern Australian sharing menu enlivened with a few Middle-Eastern twists. 

Paprika Almonds/Breathing Space Sauvignon Blanc 2010

House Marinated Olives ($8)

We were started off with some Paprika Almonds and a glass of Breathing Space Sauvignon Blanc 2010, which was grassy and tangy. On the side was served the first of our many entrees, House Marinated Olives ($8), which had a good variety of black and green olives, and were salty, oily, and mild. 

Hummus and Turkish Bread ($10)

I love me some good bread and dip, and the entire table let out a collective gasp when presented with a large platter of Hummus and Turkish Bread ($10). The house-made hummus is nothing like the gritty, gluggy stuff you find in plastic tubs. Instead, the dip was fresh and light, a slick of olive oil smoothing out the sharpness of the lemon. It was fabulous with the fluffy wedges of warm Turkish bread. 

Sticky Dukkha Lamb Ribs ($14)

The sigh at the hummus though, was nothing compared to the one that greeted the Sticky Dukkha Lamb Ribs ($14), which was something more like a squeal of delight. Piled high like a plate of Korean fried chicken, these sticky glazed ribs were gelatinous and unctuous, with a delicious sweet nuttiness complementing the fall-apart meat. 

Roast Beetroot and Lentil Salad ($17)

To counter the richness of the ribs, we were served the Roast Beetroot and Lentil Salad ($17), a refreshing yet substantial offering. I’m not usually a fan of beetroot, but this salad was a great mix of beetroot and grains, and the occasional burst of musty creaminess from cheese, all lifted up with torn mint leaves. 

Chorizo and Manchego Croquettes ($12) 

Chorizo and Manchego Croquettes ($12) 

Croquettes are delicious at the worst of times, but these Chorizo and Manchego Croquettes ($12) are possibly the best I’ve had. Under the delicately crisp batter was a potato mash so heavily infused with cheese it was like eating melted cheese, interspersed with chewy pieces of chorizo. There was no way this could’ve gone wrong. 

Crispy Fried Squid ($14)

Though not on our menu, we were nevertheless treated to a pan of Crispy Fried Squid ($14). Whilst not as crisp as advocated, the squid was cooked to a melting sweetness. 

Spiced 8 Hour Lamb Brick ($32)

For once I had paced myself properly through the entrees, so I had plenty of room for the mains being shared around. I was served the Spiced 8 Hour Lamb Brick ($32), served with pistachio tabouli and cool dollops of labna. After being marinated in spices and roasted for 8 hours, the lamb shoulder is then pressed into a pan, before being cut into logs and rolled in dukkah. The result is a piece of lamb that is crunchy on the outside, yet fork-tender in the middle – the best of both worlds.

Pan Roasted Barramundi ($32)

The dish I had most anticipated trying was the Pan Roasted Barramundi ($32). The daintily cooked fish was raised up by the disk of morcilla hiding underneath, which was spicy and rich. The fennel salad’s herbal freshness provided a good point of balance. 

Crispy Skin Cajun Chicken Breast ($30)

I admit I was a little disappointed by the Crispy Skin Cajun Chicken Breast ($30), which I found to be quite dry and grudgingly spiced. The puffed sweet corn salad however was a revelation, the kernels sweet and juicy, with a hint of smoke from the grill. 

Milk Callabeaut Chocolate Fondant ($13)

I was quite full by this point, so I had to pull out my special dessert stomach for the Milk Callabeaut Chocolate Fondant ($13). This was a perfect fondant, the aroma tantalising, and the outer layer of cake concealing a river of chocolate lava. Served alongside was the timeless companion to chocolate – mint ice cream, hidden beneath fluffy milk foam.

Watermelon Salad ($12)

After our rich meal, we welcomed the invigorating Watermelon Salad ($12). The entire table cooed over how delicious the cubes of watermelon were, when paired with rosewater, mint, and sprinklings of halva. 

Vanilla Panna Cotta ($13)

Vanilla Panna Cotta ($13)

But I think I drew the long straw when it came to dessert, having received the Vanilla Panna Cotta ($13) that I had been eyeing for the entire meal. This was everything I had hoped for, and more. It was a delightful combination of syrupy strawberries, lemon curd, and bitter champagne jelly, all scattered over a thick, rich and cool panna cotta. It was simple but I’d come back just for this.

He Says She Says is an unexpected slice of personality amongst the anonymous car dealerships and office buildings in Camberwell. It offers simple and comforting food for any time of the day, in a warm, soothing environment. It is a great place to unwind after a long day, to get some peace and quiet, or even just to spoil yourself every now and then.

Rating: 14.5/20 – he says good, she says great.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of He Says She Says. 

He Says She Says on Urbanspoon


  1. I am not sure if I had heard of this place before your review but it looks good and is around the corner from good friends, so I have booked to catch up with them there on Friday night. :-)

    1. Hi Em! My tram would always go past He Says She Says when I take it in and out of the city, and I've always been curious about the food. I would definitely recommend going after my visit, but it can get a bit pricey so beware! I hope you enjoy your visit!

  2. We had a great meal thanks! Everyone enjoyed it and hubby wishes we had something similar closer to home. Just writing up the blog post now.....

    1. So glad you liked it! I'll keep an eye out for your post ;)