While Thai food and live music may seem like an unlikely combination, Choo Choo’s – the restaurant edition to music venue The Toff In Town – proves that complex flavours and tuneful jams do indeed make a worthy pairing.
Located on level two of the ever-trendy Curtin House, Choo Choo’s décor – which naturally matches The Toff’s – is themed to resemble a classic train carriage with vintage leather booths that are as comfortable as they are aesthetic. The furnishing goes one step further with sliding doors and a service bell, which give an old-timey feel without being too kitsch.
Aimed to be to culinary accompaniment to The Toff – one of the best places in the CBD to see both local and international acts perform – Choo Choo’s also boasts an extensive cocktail menu, which proved to be a perfect accompaniment to the freshness of the food.
Choo Choo’s menu is the brainchild of renowned chef Karen Batson. Batson’s keen ability to produce Thai-influenced dishes has been a hit with Melbourne diners for years at a variety of locations including the ever-popular Colonel Tan’s and Cookie, also located in Curtin House.
The menu has been designed to be shared – a style that greatly compliments gig-going and indeed the food itself. All the meals are Thai-inspired with simple ingredients and balanced, fresh flavours. Standouts include a traditional Thai dish that puts a spin on the classic culinary combo of pork and pineapple called galloping horses; a mixture of minced pork and prawn meat, vegetables and herbs served with raw, sweet pineapple.
Another standout was a less traditional, slightly more contemporary dish. A meat sausage served on a sweet bun topped with coriander slaw; a nice twist on typical food you’d expect of a gig with all the subtlety of complex Thai flavours.
The menu also includes a variety of sides designed to compliment larger menu items. A crowd favourite is the water buffalo cheese, tomato and Thai basil salad, a simple side with clean flavors and an altogether balanced dressing, perfect for sharing with fellow concertgoers.
Choo Choo’s strength ultimately lies in its ability to amalgamate two worlds seamlessly, because not every muso in Melbourne is ready to settle for greasy chips and pub food on a night out. So while high quality Thai-inspired food may not be the first style of cuisine that comes to mind when planning a pre or post-show bite to eat, Choo Choo’s sharing menu and the ease in which it compliments the stylings of The Toff are reason enough to venture to Curtin House for a delicious meal. After all, it’s rare to find a place that can stave off both musical and culinary cravings, but Choo Choo’s and The Toff tick both equally important boxes.