The Aylesbury

This restaurant has now closed and has been replaced by Bomba
I’m not anti share plates.  I like getting to try other peoples food and I feel the pain of sacrificing some of the food off my own plate to my dining companions is compensated for by avoiding a case of food envy.  However, a lunch at The Aylesbury showcased the problems with Melbourne’s love affair with share plates.

Pig and fig at The Aylesbury

I ate at The Aylesbury with the lovely Claire who writes Melbourne Gastronome and although the menu did not make sharing mandatory, it did have a tapas section and sharing appeared to be what everyone else was doing.  There were no problems to start with as we ordered the cleverly named “Pig and fig”($12), cured shoulder of pork sliced into ribbons and topped with torn pieces of sweet fig.  The two ingredients worked well together and the quality of the produce shone through.

Inside The Aylesbury – a big bar area great for solo diners

It was the arrival of the zucchini flower ($8) which brought our lunch to a temporary halt.  The flower was filled with creamy goats curd, lightly deep fried and drizzled with honey.  All good stuff except for the fact there was only one flower and two of us.  Our waiter had somehow failed to mention the singular nature of the zucchini flower when we ordered and so we of course had to order another rather than try to split such a tiny morsel.

Zucchini flower singular – difficult to share

The steak with bone marrow ($18) sounded good on paper but was served as one whole piece of meat (rather than cut into slices for sharing as they do at San Telmo).  It was also rather unhelpfully accompanied by only one steak knife so we had to make do with eating steak with butter knives.  Unfortunately for us it was not one of those moments when the phrase “it was so tender you could cut it with a butter knife” applied.

Steak with bone marrow

To finish we tried a salad of heirloom tomatoes and caramelised onions ($10).  There was no problem divvying this up, just the more major problem that some of the tomatoes were not ripe and so were very hard and bitter to eat.

Heirloom tomato salad

The Aylesbury looks good with trailing plants and jars of preserves dotted on shelves softening up what used to be Barbagallo Trattoria e Pizzeria.  It’s also got all the right intentions with an emphasis on sustainable, seasonal and locally sourced food and a brilliant rooftop bar.  However service that redefined the meaning of perfunctory and a muddled menu left me pondering: to share or not to share?

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Update – June 2012
I’ve been back to the Aylesbury a few times since I wrote this review for various reasons, once to get spectacularly drunk at the rooftop bar and again for a big dinner with a group of girlfriends.  We sat in the semi private room at the back and ate from the set menu which was excellent.  There were none of the service problems and the portion sizes for groups were spot on.  It just goes to show how experiences can differ from visit to visit and perhaps initially I hit the Aylesbury on a bad day.  

Details: The Aylesbury, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000 (Ph: +61 (3) 9077 0451). Open for lunch Mon- Fri 12-3pm and dinner Mon – Sat 6pm – late.  The rooftop bar is open Mon – Sat 3pm – late and on Fridays from 1pm.
Damage: Reasonable.  Our bill came to $56 for two without drinks.

The Aylesbury on Urbanspoon


  1. Ah, so thsi is a place to go when one is feeling greedy adn territorial. Duly noted 😉

  2. Happy to share (if I must) to sample a maximum number of dishes, but always good when everyone hops in – nothing worse than a polite stand off when you really want to attack that last zucchini flower but are worried about being shown up for the glutton that you are (“you” meaning “me).

  3. Bit of a service fail imho. Unlike the longer established yum cha or tapas where you have a fair idea on the shareability, your server should help guide you on the ordering if you’re gonna be sharing.

  4. Hmmm, a pity. Boo to unripe tomatoes!!

  5. Ah the perils of share plates. And it sounds like everyone was playing nicely. Imagine what it’s like with someone who didn’t get his nickname because I was running out of cute things to call him.

  6. “sharing plates” of this nature are nothing but a fashionable money grab to get you to order more.

    Sharing plates are wonderful in an informal relaxed setting, but as soon as you require more than a single piece of cutlery it is no longer a dish that can be really shared…..

    meze = share
    dim sum = share
    chacutuerie = share

    An un-sliced steak or single item is not a share

  7. Though there was only one zucchini flower, I have to say, it looked amazing! I’m all for sharing plates too – get to try more! – restaurants just need to understand how to make it easier for patrons!

  8. Hannah – Yes note it down.

    Greedy Diva – Luckily we had no such problems at Coda….

    Mr Noodles – You are right it is the waiters job to explain all of this and in our situation they were not very forthcoming.

    Lauren – Big boo indeed.

    Tori – This comment made me laugh so much. The poor Greedy One!

    Greg- I totally agree with you. Certain items are made for sharing and certain other items are not.

    Catty – I am secretly rather obsessed with zucchini flowers. And as a fellow greedy person I agree there are certain advantages to share plates.

  9. Maybe the price may be a little hint that it’s one flower?

    1. Anon – true but having just moved back from London I think I am still in denial about Melbourne prices and did think $8 was reasonable for two zucchini flowers. Having now been here for two months I realise that would be a bargain.

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