Lunch Fri-Sun noon-3pm
Dinner Mon, Wed & Thu 6pm-10pm, Fri-Sun 5.30pm-10pm
Make no mistake: there's nothing timid about The Town Mouse. Polished terrazzo floors and glossy black tiles keep the noise levels lively, and switched-on waitstaff are just as passionate about a glass of booze-free French grape juice as they are the most obscure natural wine on their menu. They're right to be so enthusiastic about the food, too. Dave Verheul's dishes may be some of the prettiest in Melbourne, but there's substance and skill beyond the aesthetics. Curls of just-seared squid are tangled with refreshing shaved fennel and iceberg, roasted pork jowl is balanced by tangy yoghurt, witlof and fig-leaf dust, and roasted red cabbage takes on a meaty intensity thanks to its layers of prune, apple and parmesan. Sculptural desserts create a clever interplay between sweet and savoury, such as preserved pineapple and glassine pineapple tuiles with salty shortbread and a quenelle of perfumed jasmine rice ice-cream.