First floor, 252 Swanston St, Melbourne (map)
That scorching Friday evening between Christmas and New Year I was meeting best friend K (K1) and K2, a uni friend of mine who has moved to Canberra and was in town to do the holiday season thing with family. As K2 had been out of Melbourne for a while and wanted to go somewhere a bit fun in the city where she'd never been before, I tried booking at Seamstress and Gingerboy (both closed) before settling on Cookie. I'd only eaten once before at Cookie and that was 18 months ago, but I remembered liking the drunken noodles and something with minced pork.
My usual hesitation at going to Cookie on a Friday night was displaced by the comforting thought that most of the suits would be down at Portsea. :)
Even given the Yuletide Melbourne exodus and the abominable 39 degree heat, the restaurant at Cookie was fully booked, so we had to sit at a table in the bar section, but as the menu is identical we didn't really mind. What we DID mind, however, was the food. If the food at Cookie were a song it would be the "One Note Samba"... and that note would be CHILLI.
Don't get me wrong - I love chilli. When I get the Chilli Oil Dumplings at Camy's, I add EXTRA chilli. But the food we tried at Cookie (with one exception) was so freaking spicy that it was really... unenjoyable. Which was a shame.
The only other time I've been actually unable to eat the food because there was too much chilli in it was at Chilli Paradise. But hey, at least there the name warned us what we were in for (even if it turned out to be more like Chilli Hell)...
The dishes we had at Cookie, in order from least spicy to most spicy, were as follows:
K1's dish was chicken and bananna (sic) blossom salad with coconut and coriander ($18.50). I tasted this one - it was really lovely and refreshing. Wish I'd chosen it.
We ordered a salad for the three of us to share - cashew, tomato, cucumber and coriander salad ($12.50). Very small for the price paid (that's a standard rice bowl), and the big chunks of raw Spanish onion weren't appreciated. Also, it may not look it but the dressing had a fair whack of chilli, so this salad was not the respite from spicy main dishes that our tastebuds were hoping for.
K2 had the stir fried pippies with chilli and basil ($16.50). Does one normally stir fry shells? In any event, to pippies I generally say "meh", so I didn't taste this dish. K2 reported back that it was extremely spicy, even when avoiding the chilli chunks and chilli seeds - but then again I'm not sure how tough her chilli tolerance levels are... :)
My dish was the duck jungle curry with eggplant and bamboo shoots ($19.50). I had a good feeling about it when I ordered - eggplant and bamboo shoots are two of my favourite curry ingredients, but I had never had them both in the same curry. Like other jungle curries, the consistency was watery rather than creamy, but the chilli... my god, the chilli. I'd always heard that you shouldn't put too much chilli in a jungle curry, as the white and green peppercorns already give it lots of peppery spice. But the Cookie kitchen clearly does not subscribe to this school of thought.
You have been warned!