Type of Venue: Cafe/Restaurant
Cuisine: Modern Australian, casual dining
Highly Recommended: Parma Wrap, Eggplant Chips, Chicken Mango Salad, Pavlova Cronut, Iced Chocolate, Super Berry Smoothie
The Billy Group have quietly been opening venues all around Melbourne, with each venue uniquely named after the founder, William Bourke. The latest of these string of venues to open is Billy’s Central, located in the city, on the footbridge joining Melbourne Central to Emporium. Offering a casual dining haven for shoppers and city workers, it’s the perfect environment in which to sit down for a quick bite to eat, or to laze the afternoon away whilst watching the world go by.
Passionately believing in the paddock-to-plate philosophy, the Billy Group aim to source local and organic produce where possible, serving them in fresh, healthy and rustically wholesome dishes, using contemporary cooking and plating techniques. Their desire to stay ahead of the game involves keeping up with constantly changing trends, as well as coming up with innovative ways to utilise their ingredients.
The menu offers a standard selection of breakfast dishes, whilst the larger lunch and dinner menu contains a more impressive variety. Don’t expect anything too fancy; just simple, honest food that tastes good and looks presentable – ideal for a casual restaurant located inside a shopping centre. Take-away is also available, with the display of pre-made sandwiches, foccacias and sweet treats successfully enticing passers-by.
Perfect on a hot Summer day, the Super Berry Smoothie is a cooling blend of mixed berries, banana, coconut flakes and milk. Deliciously fruity with the right amount of sweetness to cut through the tart berry flavour, this is a tasty way to get your fruit intake in for the day. For something a little more naughty, the Iced Chocolate is all about the chocolate and ice cream, and not just about the milk, which is appreciated for a chocolate-drink lover like me.
Super Berry Smoothie ($8.90) & Iced Chocolate ($6.50)
If it’s not cheat day, you can still enjoy a great meal with the Chicken Mango Salad. Cos lettuce is cut up, and tossed with cucumber, sliced avocado, chargrilled chicken and a mango salsa, finished with a lemon dressing for that zingy tang. Simple yet very well seasoned, the highlight of this dish is the use of Maryland chicken thigh, which remains tender and extremely tasty with a slightly charred exterior to add a hint of smokiness. To make this salad even more enjoyable, the cos lettuce should be torn or cut into bigger pieces to make it easier to pick up with a fork (and knife).
Chicken Mango Salad ($18.00)
Making chicken parmigiana dreams come true, the Parma Wrap is a hearty item, featuring crumbed-and-fried chicken breast, topped with Napoli sauce, cheese, grilled mushrooms, roasted capsicum and basil, all held together in a softly-toasted tortilla wrap. The chicken within is superbly tender and sufficiently portioned, enhanced by the extremely flavoursome house-made Napoli sauce that could even impress your Nonna. Served with thick, hand-cut chips and aioli, more consistent cooking of the chips was needed to avoid the slightly soggy texture, and to produce a more crunchy coating with fluffy potato inside.
Parma Wrap ($16.00)
One of the best side dishes you will eat, Eggplant Chips deliver on a delicately crispy coating, encasing soft eggplant within. Although its accompanying dip of hummus is initially questionable, the earthy, smoky and textural elements of the hummus marry with the eggplant chips perfectly! You may never want for another accompaniment to eggplant chips again…
Eggplant Chips ($14.00)
For a sweet treat, their imported cronuts come highly recommended, with the Pavlova Cronut surprising us with a warm and gooey lemon curd filling inside flaky layers of pastry after being warmed up. This was the best way to finish our Billy’s Central dining experience, and really summed up the focus on flavour, balance and texture that they strive for throughout their dine-in and take-away menu.
A surprising gem inside Melbourne Central, Billy’s Central succeeds in serving high quality, organic produce in humble and tasty dishes, set within a casual ambience that suits the surroundings. Whether you choose to sit in their public dining area, or in their more dedicated greenhouse-like area to the side, the relaxing vibes are just what is needed after a hard day of shopping.
Note: I dined as a guest of Billy’s Central. Thank you to the management and staff, in particular to Aldo the manager, for their generous hospitality throughout our experience.
Level 2, Melbourne Central (Cnr LaTrobe and Swanston Streets)
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9650 3459
Hours: Sat-Wed 9am-8pm, Thurs-Fri 9am-10pm.