Colonel Tan’s

Posted on July 24, 2011

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I love surprises. I love them even more when people pull off hard ones. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but it’s no easy task surprising me with a foodie find I haven’t heard of before. Being ever so slightly obsessed with food and pathetically in love with Melbourne means I know of a lot of hot spots. I may not have visited them all yet, but I’m likely to have heard of or read about them in newspapers, magazines or blogs. So I was absolutely buzzing with excitement when a dear friend led me upstairs of Revolver (yes, the iconic live music venue and nightclub) to grab some eats. I had no idea you could eat there, let alone for it to be the home of Colonel Tan’s (229 Chapel Street, Prahran VIC)!

Colonel Tan’s is a quirky Thai restaurant bar that would probably be best described as raw. Well, in its look and feel anyway. The upstairs area is pretty big; there’re old arcade games, a dj playing music behind a cage, lots of red lamp shades and even more of comfy looking lounges dotting the floor. Towards the back is a large bar with its stash of alcohol stored up high in a cage like structure. The bar area is pretty much the start of the restaurant section with the kitchen set even further back into the room.

Peeling wall paint and the use of cages give the space an industrial vibe, but the use of numerous chandeliers, old photos/posters and kitsch table lining adds a level of warmth. If it all sounds a bit random and hectic, it is. But it somehow just works. Food is priced well, with most dishes coming in under $20.

To start the night we went for the wine spritzers (~$8), and there were quite a few to choose from. How totally 1990s. If these ones are anything to go by, I’m hoping they’re making a come back at more establishments around town.

Ok, so before I go on, I must confess that being in a bar environment does something to me, it makes me crave deep fried foods. Please tell me I’m not the only one guilty of this! So anyhow, the ordering went as follows: fries with chilli salt and mayo ($5.50), deep fried chilli squid ($12.50), deep fried five spiced chicken ($16.50) and glass noddles with prawns and coriander seeds ($19.50). Not too bad right? 1/4 was a ‘healthy’ option!

Servings were generous and, as another Colonel would put it, ‘finger lickin good’! The chilli fries seemed mild at the start, but rest assured there’s an additive effect; by the end of the basket you’re sure to want a cold drink to wash your mouth with. The squid and chicken both had a light batter to give it a crunchy coating without being overbearing. But I’d say the prawns were my favourite. While the sauce was a very familiar ginger and spring onion combination, it had the added fragrance and sweetness of corriander seeds. Bliss.

Perhaps it was the oily goodness that did it, but those 4 dishes were more than enough to conquer 2 hungry diners. I’ve got to go back though, I’m so keen to try their other offerings of curries, salads and the like. Service was also fantastic, the staff were really friendly and ensured the arrival of drinks and dishes were timed to perfection. A great night out overall.

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