What to order at Arbory Afloat

Published on 29 October 2021

Photo: Oysters ahoy at Arbory Afloat

If you’ve been anywhere near the CBD stretch of the Yarra over the past five summers, you’ll most likely be familiar with Arbory Afloat: the semi-permanent floating bar and restaurant that re-skins itself every spring, paying homage to the planet’s most fabulous reaches.

For this, its sixth iteration, we’re off to the Turquoise Coast for a taste of the Turkish Riviera, and we are not angry about it.

From the shade of an 80-year-old olive tree that has been sourced and craned onto the venue to drive home the theme, Arbory Afloat executive chef Nick Bennett runs us through the mezze and the mirth as the sun sets over… er, Costco.

How about a drink?
Cocktails always go down nicely on deck, and this season is no different. We've increased our draft cocktail offering to feature eight different cocktails on tap. I recommend the Turkish Delight: a gin-based cocktail made with Vedrenne rose liquor (to give it that aromatic rose flavour of the Turkish sweet) and a hint of lime. It's seriously refreshing and transporting. And it being on tap is fantastic – it's in your hands quickly.

I’m here for a good time not a long time.
Grab yourself a bottle of 2019 Domaine Ott ‘Clos Mireill’ rosé and order a couple of the king prawns. We're serving the prawns butterflied and coated in a homemade falafel crumb. They're fried and come with a lemon yoghurt and are topped with parsley.

Got anything light and fresh?
The mezze section includes a lot of light dishes like midye escabeche – pickled mussels and saffron. There are also some great salads – a delicious Greek salad with salty, nutty feta; and kisir – a cracked wheat salad with broad beans and prawns.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
We have so many delicious vegetarian and vegan choices. Options include our red lentil kofte; an array of dips; biber (Turkish fried peppers); flatbread; and of course, a variety of delicious vegan pizzas.

You can't miss the imam bayildi – a slow-cooked eggplant dish topped with fresh tomatoes, dill, parsley, almonds, and bulgar pilav. It's substantial in size, making it perfect as a main, but could easily be ordered as a side to share with a group.

Name the dish that captures this season for the Arbory Afloat.
Our Turquoise Coast mignonette. It's served with oysters and is super unique to Arbory Afloat this season. It's our own unique version of the classic mignonette using salgam suyu – a fermented spicy black carrot juice and popular traditional beverage from the southern Turkish cities made with shallots, white balsamic and herbs.

Then, in true Afloat style, we have a fresh menu of top-notch pizzas. Our resident pizza phenomenon, Salim Gafaryi, makes truly sublime pizzas. The bases are cooked in our Forni Visciano wood-fired pizza oven and are the perfect combination of a light texture, with a subtle chewy-bite through the centre and super crispy base. Salim is Turkish-born, and has created a fitting new pizza inspired by his heritage and memories on the Turkish Riviera. Named the karides, this king prawn pizza is a must. Topped with herb salsa, tulum cheese and isot biber (a dried Turkish pepper that adds a smoky taste), it'll remind you of those salty warm afternoons by the Turquoise coast.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
To start, order the Turquoise Coast Pink Gin. It's been specially curated for this season and is made with our Arbory Afloat x Four Pillars pink gin (exclusive to Arbory Afloat) and served with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic. Then grab a seafood platter, which features everything from lobsters, skull island prawns and marinated mussels, to raki-cured kingfish and oysters with our very own Turquoise Coast mignonette. Get some sparkles into you with a bottle of the NV Pierre Petere Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne, then tuck into a 900-gram rib-eye with coriander potatoes and isot biber spoon salad with a bottle of our Bindi X Arbory pinot noir. Heaven.

And to close?
There are so many options here. You could finish with our love cake – topped with rosewater mascarpone, pistachio and pomegranate, or you could go for an amazing cocktail like the Porn Star Martini. If you're not feeling something sweet to end your night, you could grab a doner kebab from our rotating daily kebab menu. It's the perfect late-night boozy snack.

Arbory Afloat, open 11am-1am daily, 2 Flinders Walk, Melbourne, 03 9629 1547, arboryafloat.com.au, @arboryafloat

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