Dumplings feature in the cuisines of many cultures, from the stodgy delight of the potato dumpling in Germany to Mongolian dumplings called `Buuz’ that are filled with minced mutton. Then there are sweet dumplings, like a Ukrainian recipe I have where they are filled with a sort of cherry preserve.
Dumplings are the ultimate comfort food and really when you consider it , they almost offer all your food groups in one neat, savoury little package. Yes, I’m a huge fan. So much in fact, I am starting to resemble the foodie object of my affection.
Anyway, on Thursday, I checked out Dragonfly, which advertises itself as a ‘Dim Sum bar’ with a fair smattering of dumpling offerings.
I started getting fairly disjointed and hazy flashbacks as I descended the stairs-the space was ‘Rosies’ for many decades and I’m sure that I, like many others of my age had a few `mornings after’ after rounding off a night out with a few more bevvies at Rosies.
Of course this whole block has a long history. From the late 19th century, it housed the popular Rowe’s Wintergarden Cafe. In the 1920s, it underwent a transformation; with added levels housing a roof garden and a ballroom. Underneath, (presumably where Dragonfly is now) was basement featuring a kitchen and bakery and, a newspaper report of the time says, a huge refrigeration and extraction plant required to make sure they maintain the ‘deluxe’ aspect of the restaurant rather have it contaminated by smells that may make it seem like a `common fish and chip shop.’
In the 70s the space was home to ‘The old Roses’ nightclub, a place that under the homophobic Christian right in power in Queensland land, quietly operated as a gay nightclub.
I think it was sometime in the early 80s it morphed into ‘Rosies.’
The space still has a nightclub feel- as if the walls have soaked in that late night loucheness. Dark and moodily lit, it’s a world away from the bright lights and frenetic pace up at street level. It feels like the sort of place you could run away from work to and sit drinking and snacking until you stumble blinking back into the real world. Or sneak off to with someone you’re possibly not meant to be with.
There are a couple of bigger tables but lots of casual little round tables where you pull up a pouffe.
The wine list is short-weighted in favour of cocktails, but I knew that was a risky road with an afternoon of work waiting for me, so we ordered wine. Our Pinot Grigio wasn’t in stock we were told but they provided a very reasonable substitute.
Staff were lovely and suggested to us the number of dishes we should share and how many serves were in each. We were sticking strictly to dumplings, (apart from a steamed pork bun) although another time, I’d like to try a couple of the other dishes. In all we had gyoza and pot stickers, chicken and chive dumpling, a pork and peanut dumpling, a Shanghai pork dumpling and a pork sui mai. Yes, that’s a lot of pork. Some were better than others-but all could have done with a bit more seasoning. (the pork sui mai, with goji berry was the best).
The trio of sauces (a very spicy chilli, a tangy plum and a soy) were great but definitely needed to have small spoons with them-the dumplings size made them awkward to dip, not to mention the double-dipping danger. I would have also liked to see some interesting crockery in keeping with the Asian theme- the small white plates seem a bit utilitarian.
It was lovely to see the chef come out and chat with diners and he enquired (and really seemed to care) as to whether we liked our meal. Yes, was the answer then and now, however, I think that Dragonfly should push it a little more. How about some Tang bao- larger steamed dumplings that are filled with ‘soup’ (the soup is frozen so it solidifies, enfolded in the wrapper, then cooked so it liquefies). Or some black fungus dumplings perhaps? (Dragon-i in Hong Kong, a similar kind of concept do some great dumplings). A little more variety and a little more risk-taking needed I reckon. I’ll definitely go back to try the rendang curry though- it’s another fave.
Dragonfly 235 Edward Street Ph 3220 1477