Far from the images that perhaps come to mind when you hear the words 'The Butler's Den', everything about the Elwood eatery is instead sensationally picturesque, colourful and vibrant.
The apple doesn't seem to fall far from the tree when it comes to the styling and inspiration behind many of the dishes at The Butler's Den and older sibling restaurant The Glass Den. Switch out the surroundings of Pentridge Prison, throw in the beach and ta da!
Their menu is full of adventurous gems like the Denny Benny; beets English muffin halves topped with tempura soft shell crab, pickled daikon and ginger, asparagus, poached eggs and turmeric hollandaise. Move over ham hock. Or if you have more of a sweet tooth, perhaps the roti stack would be more up your alley. Not for the faint hearted, this dish came with a double stack of crispy fried roti hotcake fritters with an entourage of sweet components. Cue the pieces of chocolate brownie, banana, strawberry, matcha soil, hazelnut, house made cookies n cream ice cream, Persian chocolate fairy floss, raspberry crumble and the pouring over of a caramel sauce. Whew, what a mouthful. One sweet, sweet mouthful.
I opted for the prawn tempura ramen, comprising of beetroot coloured ramen, two pieces of crispy tempura prawn, enoki, asparagus, pickled daikon, a boiled egg and a housemade miso tare. It wasn't quite the traditional bowl of ramen but tasty. Each of the components were spot on but it was the miso ramen broth that shined; its earthy umami profile was sensationally flavoursome while also quite light and clean tasting.
We made sure to leave some room for dessert. Here we thought the other dishes were photogenic but they paled in comparison to the plating of the Oreo Waffle; a vanilla bean HK style waffle, served with berry soil, Oreo ice cream, hazelnuts, white chocolate ganache (served in a jar), strawberries, Oreo bites and citrus meringue. With so many different ingredients to mix and match, each bite was a choose your own adventure of sweetness. The watery white chocolate ganache was not a necessary addition and remained mostly untouched.
The service was questionable at times during our visit (we ducked in and out a few times from the outdoor seating area to flag down some attention before being told that our order needed to be staggered so as not to overwhelm the kitchen), but the food did not disappoint. It's a good thing that The Glass Den is closer to home.
63A Ormond Esplanade,
Elwood, Victoria, 3184.
(03) 9531 7788