Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bluestone Restaurant Bar [Lounge]

Location: 349 Flinders Lane [between Elizabeth and Queen Streets]
Link: www.bluestonerestaurantbar.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: Stace, Alex, Ed

The thing to note with this place is that it is split up into a restaurant [upstairs] and a lounge/bar [downstairs]. The menu for the restaurant is twice as expensive as the menu for the lounge.

~Food~
The lounge menu has an extensive range of pizzas, and a few mains and share plates. I had the 'greek style marinated lamb skewers, pilaf of rice, tzatziki dressing'. The lamb was a little on the dry side, the rice was cooked really well, and the tzatziki was fresh and you could taste the cucumber in it. Stace had the char-grilled tuna steak, which came with salad, Alex had the schnitzel and Ed had a pizza. The serving sizes were all fairly generous, and I didn't hear of any complaints regarding the food. Stace has all the photos on her camera.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Being a lounge/bar, the place had dim lighting and the atmosphere was very casual and relaxing. The service was a little slow, but very friendly.

~Price~
The mains and pizzas ranged from $17 through to $25 depending on what was ordered. If you have the entertainment guide, there's a voucher in there for 25% off.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Very impressed with the service and the atmosphere. No doubt we'll be back again.

Terra Rossa

Location: 87 Flinders Lane [between Russell and Exhibition Streets]
Link: www.terrarossarb.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Italian, Tapas
Company: BD Clerks

~Food~
We didn't get much of a say in terms of what to order as everything had been pre-ordered for us, but the food that came out was fantastic! We had a series of pizzas, including a lamb one, which all had perfectly crisp bases, and lots of topping.

The menu also has a range of tapas, pastas and other mains, and for the drinkers, a very extensive drinks list.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place was bustling on a Monday lunch. Being one of few decent restaurants in the Paris end of Collins Street / Flinders Lane, it tends to attract a lot of suited up people. The service was pretty ordinary, although I admit I was impressed with the way they handled a group of twenty-odd clerks spread over two long tables. The only main flaw was a waitress snapping at one of the clerks for asking for an 'ice chocolate'. Since the meal had already been pre-arranged and paid for, only soft drinks were covered. This wasn't an issue, but the waitress snapped and said 'you can only choose soft drink' instead of just informing us that it wasn't on the set menu.

~Price~
The pizzas were fairly large and cost between $15 and $20 each. The tapas seems a little more on the expensive side, but then again, I haven't seen the serving sizes yet.

~Overall Impression: 8/10~
I was very impressed with the pizza, and will probably go back and try out the tapas one day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tazio

Location: 66 Flinders Lane [near Exhibition Street]
Link: www.tazio.com.au
Cuisine: Italian
Company: BD Tax Team

~Food~
The menu contains a wide variety of pizzas and pastas, as well as foccacias, salads and the like. I ordered a small pizza called the 'veneto', which had pancetta, roasted peppers and goat's cheese. Beautiful!! The pizza base was thin and crispy, and not solid like some places tend to make it. The pancetta was also crispy and very strongly flavoured. The roasted peppers were soft and sweet, and the goat's cheese was smooth and creamy. There could have been a little more cheese though, since the roasted peppers and tomato base made it quite sweet.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very friendly, although going with a larger group can make it a little more crowded than usual. The service was fairly prompt, especially for gourmet pizzas like the ones we ordered.

~Price~
Very decent. A small pizza was about $14, larger pizzas were around $18. Drinks were a little overpriced though [bottle of coke was $4.50].

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Very impressed. The food was delicious, the service was fast and friendly and the prices decent. Will definitely be coming back some day!

Coffee Coffee Coffee...

I've recently discovered a number of little coffee places around the eastern end of Collins Street in the city thanks to a clerkship I'm doing in a building in the area. Here are a few:

~Breadwell~
135 Flinders Lane
The staff are friendly and the place can accommodate larger groups along the side booths. Service is moderately fast and prices are fairly standard.

~Recorded Music Salon~
Level 1, 11 Collins Street
You can easily pass the entrance and not even realise, as there is no street front. Instead, you enter through a small door off Collins Street and head upstairs. The place is nice and space, with both long and short tables. Service is quite fast and very approachable. No idea about the price.*

~Cumulus~
45 Flinders Lane
Whilst the window is visible from the street, the door itself is tucked around the corner in a little lane coming off Flinders Lane. Service was friendly but slow, although the place was pretty busy when we went in. Again, no idea about the price.*

~Mini~
145 Flinders Lane
Located a little further away than Breadwell, the entrance is even harder to find as one has to walk down an old cobblestone looking lane way to get to the front door. Inside the room is partially divided in two, with standard tables and chairs down one half, and a larger table with high stools surrounding it in the middle. The service was average, the waitresses were rather slow in bringing out glasses and water, and the drinks took quite a long time to come out. On the positive side, the waitresses did pour our water and one impressed me by asking if I had a nut allergy when bringing out my hot chocolate [although I thought it would have been a bit more logical to ask when taking the order!]. And again, no idea about the price.*

*One of the benefits of a clerkship is that you get taken out for coffees all the time, and the bill is usually covered by the lawyers or the firm's recruitment budget.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stalactites

Location: 177-183 Lonsdale Street
Link: www.stalactites.com.au
Cuisine: Greek
Company: YC, Darren, Qiao-Lin, Anna

~Food~
The menu is quite extensive for a place that appears to only specialise in souvlakis. Actually, to be honest, they seem to pretty much make the same sorts of things, in varying setups and with different accompaniments. Regardless, I ordered the lamb giro and absolutely loved it. The was well marinated and grilled to perfection. YC's moussaka, Anna's souvlaki and Darren's mixed grill looked quite tasty too.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Given that the place is always packed, the service was quite commendable. The food took a little whlie to come out, which was somewhat annoying since the others only had one hour's break.

~Price~
Quite decent for the amount of food piled on each plate. Souvlakis cost around $12-$15, while the mains were about $20 each.

~Overall Impression: 8.5/10~
I'll be back next time I feel the need to eat more meat!

Eat Drink Bento

Location: 115 Hardware Street [between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale Streets]
Cuisine: Japanese
Company: the law crew

This one was a while ago too...

~Food~
Typical Japanese meals. Most of us opted for bento boxes, which were a pretty good deal. Most notable part of the box was the deep-fried sushi. Not tempura on the inside, but the entire sushi piece dipped in tempura batter and then deep-fried!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very quiet. When we first got there, there was no one in the restaurant but us. The service was quite good although there were some minor issues with the waitress's limited grasp of English. The food came out in average time, probably slower than expected given we were the only ones there for a while.

~Price~
The bentos were between $20 and $25 each. There was a range of other mains around the same price but with less variety.

~Overall Impression: 6/10~
Pretty stock-standard Japanese food at a slightly higher price than I would be happy to pay. For food like this, I would rather go to Yamamitzu or Yoyogi.

Bear Brass

Location: Southgate
Link: www.bearbrass.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Tapas
Company: law crew

We actually went to Bear Brass quite a few months ago. On checking the menu just then, it appears that some of the mains have changed.

~Food~
Having seen the menu the night before, I knew they had a dish called 'gumbo'... which seemed somewhat interesting at the time. After doing a bit of Wiki-ing and listening to YC's description of it, I decided that I would order a gumbo...

Basically it was a South American dish of thick soup and lots and lots of seafood. It even had a soft-shell crab, which was quite small, but still very tasty. The soup was full of flavour, and would even have gone well with rice. From memory it came with some crusty bread.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The atmosphere was very casual. Seating was quite open, although it did get a little cold as it got later as we were seated next to a gap in the tarpaulin used to block out the wind from the back courtyard. Service was minimal, and somewhat slow.

~Price~
Whilst the gumbo tasted fantastic, the serving was rather conservative and it cost $30! Quite a rip off for the amount fo food we got. On the other hand, the other mains didn't like quite as expsnsive. Must have been the seafood.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
Although I loved the gumbo, it was just that little bit too expensive for the small bowl it was. Since they have now removed it from the menu, I don't think I'll be back there in much of a hurry.

Blue Train Cafe

Location: MRS Landing, Southgate Landing, Southbank
Link: www.bluetrain.com.au/
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: law crew & friends

~Food~
Pretty extensive menu ranging from steak to pizzas, pastas and burgers. Mel and I shared a pizza ('hot stone pizza w thinly sliced prosciutto over napoli & mozzarella w black olives & baby spinach, shaved parmesan and semi-dried tomatoes') and the pasta special of the day (fresh salmon pink peppercorns and white wine cream sauce). The pasta was pretty nice, the salmon tasted fresh and the sauce was just right. The peppercorns were one too many and we did tire of them quite easily. I found the pizza quite nice too, although Mel thought the prosciutto could have been fresher.

Dessert was limited to the cake window. We ended up with three slices (berry, toblerone and caramel) to share amongst the nine of us. Toblerone was the best in my opinion! The rest of the cakes were rather average.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place was rather casual. Being nice weather, our semi-outdoor seating was cool and relaxing. The service was also friendly and quite fast. The waitresses had a no fuss attitude, took our orders and left us alone. Food came out quite quickly, especially for the latecomers who ordered after we had already gotten our food.

~Price~
The mains were relatively well-priced (most were between $15 and $25). The desserts on the other hand, were quite expensive, with each slice of cake being about $8 each!! Lesson to be learnt, eat mains there, then go elsewhere for dessert.

~Overall Impression: 8/10~
A great place for a random gathering to relax and just chill. We didn't book as we didn't know how many people would show up but we were able to score a decent table thanks to Stace who got there early!

Indochine

Location: Carrington Rd, Box Hill, opposite Centro
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Company: Mark (and other people on various occasions)

~Food~
Lovely, fresh, clean Vietnamese flavours. It's one of my fav viet restaurants in Melbourne. I love their Bun (rice vermicelli dish), spring rolls and fish sauce. Their pho is not THE best but it's very nice as well. I keep forgetting to try their broken rice but i'm sure I'll be going back there very soon.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Lovely place, very pretty and the service is quick and efficient. They have one waiter who is a bit of a laugh- he also makes sexually suggestive comments to the ladies but you can't hate him coz he's so lame!

~Price~
Very reasonable. Lunch for 2 is generally around $20. In fact, it's a stretch to order $30 of food and finish it all.

~Overall Impression~
Definitely one of the best Viet places around! Try it out!
9/10
Indochine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Steak Out

Location: Crown
Link: Steakout
Cuisine: Steak

~Food~
Delicious.

Entree was the char-grilled calamari. The calamari was cooked perfectly- very tender and succulent but i do wish they had removed the sinew thing in the middle of the calamari. It came with a delicious ailoli. YUM!

Now the mains...
Mark had the porterhouse and I had the marinated ribs. Those ribs were soooo delicious. Slow roasted. Apparently they weighed 800g with the bone. The porterhouse was delicious too. Very well cooked with a yummy smokey taste. The portions were over generous and I couldn't finish my main. Both dishes came with a generous serve of fries.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Atmosphere was a bit blah. It had a sports bar and live band area attached which is great if you're into that sort of thing. Its a very bloke-y kinda place with a lot of, well blokes. The service was good, they were understanding about Fructose and offered to have the salad that came with the entree separate which was very nice.

~Price~
Not too bad. For the amount of food we got (especially the ribs) it was very reasonably priced.

~Overall Impression~
Lovely place. All the food tasted especially good coz we hadn't been out for dinner in a long long long time (thank you final year) and also coz it was one of the only meals we've had together that didn't involve any background stress. Seriously, go to steak out. It's pretty awesome.
9/10

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Queen Victoria Market

Location: corner Elizabeth and Victoria Streets
Cuisine: various
Company: Janette, Duy

Skip the food court, and take the entrance near McDonald's. Inside you'll find a vast array of freshly made pies, baguettes, sausages and boreks. The Queen Vic Market has so much food at cheap prices, and you know it's all fresh because the food sells like crazy! We jostled our way to the counter of one particular shop and ordered the borek, which looked like a sausage roll, but with a thinner pastry and actual meat inside. I didn't quite catch the name of the place, but you'll find it by the line up, and the menus [the boreks are $2.50 each!]

After you have filled up on savouries, you can stop by one of the ice cream or juice shops, or skip them and try out the American donuts sold from the van near the groceries area. Again, so so cheap - 6 donuts for $5!!

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
The place to go when you're after quick, cheap and freshly made food!

Concorde Creperie

Location: Kiosk 3, Melbourne GPO [corner Little Bourke and Elizabeth Streets]
Cuisine: Crepes
Company: Mandy, Mel

~Food~
The place sells crepe, crepe and more crepe. It has a vast array of fillings, ranging from sweet ones like lemon and sugar, banana and nutella, and stewed apple and cinnamon, to savoury fillings such as cheese, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, smoked salmon and peking duck [the list could go one]. I ordered the lemon and sugar crepe, hoping it would be like the old crepe van days, to be fairly disappointed. The crepe itself was thicker than they used to be, and seemed more suited to a savoury filling. They also made it with too much lemon syrup, and too little sugar.

Not phased though, I plan on trying out the savoury ones over the weekend, and will post a note to this afterwards.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very simple, it is just a small kiosk hidden in a corner of GPO near the post office. There is some casual seating scattered along the kerb like the other GPO cafes, but the crepe is served in a paper bag, and most people walk and eat.

The ladies who served us were friendly, but somewhat not so experienced. One left the crepe on for too long as she went off to help another look for the ingredients in their flour (a customer had asked if their flour contained yeast) and as a result the crepe was tougher than it should have been.

~Price~
Rather expensive, although the crepe is quite large. The sweet ones start at $4.90, and prices range up to $12.90 for the peking duck one.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
Not overly impressed, but impressed enough to want to return and try the savoury ones.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Izakaya Chuji

Location: 165 Lonsdale Street
Link: www.izakayachuji.com
Cuisine: Japanese, Tapas, BBQ
Company: Jie, Jenn, Mel, Emma, Helen

~Food~
The food was rather average. I suspect BBQ would have been nicer, but given it was a very hot day, we went a la carte with a stack of small tapas-like dishes. A few dishes stood out, including the asari butter (clam in butter soup) and the crab croquettes. Amusingly, the description for sukiyaki was 'a very popular dish served in pot with special sauce', although it didn't quite live up to expectations. It merely tasted like sukiyaki from any other Jap restaurant.

~Atmosphere and Service~
When we arrived at about 6pm, it was already starting to look busy. Downstairs was more crowded and had a market-like atmosphere. Upstairs was a little quieter and more restaurant like. Lighting was slightly dimmed and the place had character.

Unfortunately for the place, the service was shocking. The waiters and waitresses could barely understand English, which made communication a bit of a problem. Our first issue arose when we decided it was too hot for BBQ and opted to order from the main menu. We asked one waitress whether it was possible to order a la carte instead of BBQ, and asked for the main menu. Given that she left and returned with the menus, we assumed it would be okay. Not quite so. Another waitress later came up and told us off for not ordering BBQ when we had booked for BBQ. That would have been fair enough if they had told us when we asked. Instead they then complained about us taking up a BBQ table when they had to turn away people who wanted BBQ - despite there still being a few empty BBQ tables around us...

~Price~
The prices seemed quite cheap when we first looked at the menu, but the dishes were all rather small and after paying $20 each, we left rather unsatisfied.

~Overall Impression~
Would perhaps return to try out the Jap BBQ, but other than that, not particularly keen to return.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Casa Del Gelato

Location: 163 Lygon Street, Carlton
Cuisine: Italian, Ice-Cream and Gelati
Company: Janette, Duy

After stuffing ourselves with pasta, we decided to get some gelati for 'dessert'. Case Del was the first gelati spot that we walked past. Enticed by the endless glass windows of gelati, we went in. There were literally tubs and tubs of different flavoured gelati, there were fruity ones, creamy ones and soya ones, with a huge range for each type. I bought a 3-scoop cup of Chocolate Kiss, Choc Mint and Strawberry for $4.50. And it tasted fantastic!! The Chocolate Kiss was creamy and chocolatey, without being too rich or too sweet. The Choc Mint was fresh and cool, with nice chunks of choc chip blended throughout, and the strawberry was just very fruity and tangy. Perfect gelato.

I was especially impressed by the strawberry as it was the first time I had ordered a fruit flavour gelati - I had never thought it would work out, but it did. A must try!

Overall Impression: 9.5/10
Casa Del Gelato on Urbanspoon

Cafe Notturno

Location: 177-179 Lygon Street, Carlton
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Janette, Duy

Every time I walk down Lygon Street, Cafe Notturno always seems to be bustling with people. So today, when we went to Lygon for an early lunch, we decided we would give it a shot.

~Food~
The menu had a good range of pastas, pizzas and typical main meals, including parmas, steaks and salads. We all ordered pastas. My penne bascaioli was essentially penne with chicken and mushrooms, with a cream and napoli sauce. Quite rich, but the flavours were tossed together nicely. Janette had the penne matriciana, which looked tasty, but was apparently quite spicy. Duy's sundried tomatoes and olive gnocchi came with a cream sauce, and looked far too rich and filling for my liking, although he asserted that it did in fact taste quite good.

The menu also had a small range of desserts (including nutella crepe) and a large drinks list.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place was very casual. Seating was available both indoors and out, although we saw ants on the outdoor tables and decided to sit inside.

As it was an early lunch, the place itself wasn't that busy yet, however the service was somewhat disappointing. Our main waitress seemed to be very snappy and appeared quite rude. There was no indication of any customer service as she expressionlessly took our orders, and seemed somewhat lazy when setting the table - all it involved was putting down serviettes with a knife and fork, yet she was too lazy to do a bit of walking, and left my cutlery in front of Janette.

The plus side was that the food came out relatively quickly, however I was again disappointed that cracked black pepper and fresh parmasan were not offered, even though upon leaving I saw that it was available. Instead, we were given a shaker of parmasan, which was stuck together and didn't taste all too spectacular.

~Price~
The prices were reasonable. The pastas were around $11-$15 and the main meals didn't look too pricey either.

~Overall Impression: 6.5/10~
Suitable for a quick, cheap lunch, but not a place I would recommend for any meal where you're after decent service.
Café Notturno on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 8, 2008

Little Lamb

Location: Whitehorse Road, Box Hill
Cuisine: Chinese
Company: family

~Food~
Little Lamb operates like any other typical hotpot (or as some like to call, steamboat) restaurant. You select a soup base (normal, spicy, herbal) and then select a range of raw meats, vegies and other typical hotpot additions such as glass noodles, tofu and fish balls. Then you get to cook it all yourself, to your own liking, whenever you want. We opted for the normal soup base as the spicy is generally extremely spicy and I'm not a fan of herbal soups. Even still, the normal soup base was a very nicely flavoured stock base with some goji berries and other spices and herbs floating around (although not as much as in the herbal one).

In addition, Llittle Lamb had a Mongolian roast lamb rack on the menu, so we thought we would give that a try.... and I absolutely loved it!!! It was very nicely roasted (although somewhat oily), and instead of being heavily coated in spices, was only lightly marinated, then served with small dishes of spices.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place is quite a small restaurant, and it was crowded and busy. From the outside, you can see the steamed up windows and as soon as you step in, you can smell the aromas of the roast lamb (they do skewers as well) and the hotpot. The service was decent too, especially for a small Asian restaurant such as this was. The waiters were really attentive and efficient, and responsed quite promptly to any requests we had.

~Price~
$23 per person all-you-can eat, or you can order dishes separately to control spending.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Great place and food for a cold winter's night. Probably will return again the next time the weather goes cold again.
Little Lamb on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vialetto's Ristorante

Location: 75 Hardware Lane
Link: www.vialetto.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: Jie, Jenn, Law Crew

~Food~
The menu lists a rather large variety of mains, pastas, salads and desserts. I ordered the roast duck, which was tasty but a little on the dry side. The orange sauce wasn't as sweet as I feared it might be, and tasted awesome on top of the vegies. This time I managed to get photos of what everyone else ordered.

The mains...

[semi-boned half duck, twice cooked to a crispy skin, served with an orange citrus sauce and seasonal vegetables]

[grilled fish of the day with a herb butter and white wine sauce,served with seasonal vegetables]
This may look pretty, but came with plenty of fish bones intact and they took it off the bill.

[seared fresh Atlantic salmon nicoise served on baby beans, desiree potato, red onion, tomato and olives, all dressed with Tuscan olive oil]

[aged scotch fillet char-grilled and served with a green peppercorn sauce, Tuscan style mashed potato and seasonal vegetables]

[char-grilled veal served on a bed of rocket salad with olive tapenade]

[linguini tossed with chicken, avocado, roasted capsicum, cream and fresh herbs]

[salad of pan-seared warm calamari, served on an artichoke,rocket and semi-dried tomato salad]


[grilled calamari tubes filled with fresh spinach, prawn meat, sundried tomatoes, chilli and mushrooms, drizzled with basil oil and served with a salad]

And then for dessert...

[warm strawberry crepe: splashed with Grand Marnier & served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream]

[bigné con cioccolata: profitteroles filled with crema pasticcera and served with warm chocolate sauce & vanilla bean ice cream]

[trio of summer sorbets: a delightful selection of mango, green apple & rasberry sorbets]

[Bailey’s & white chocolate ice cream: homemade ice cream served with a chocolate wafer & a splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur]

~Atmosphere and Service~
The main dining area was tucked away in the basement floor of the restaurant. The tables were neatly set [complete with white tablecloths] and the service was minimal but very accommodating despite them being quite busy (we went on a Friday night). Bookings are nearly essential and there is the option to pre-order to save time.

~Price~
Mains are less than $20, desserts are about $8. And the serving sizes are rather generous too.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Decent prices, pleasant, unintrusive service and a good variety of dishes. A perfect mix, not to mention the awesomeness of the desserts.
Vialetto Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Romanza

Location: corner of Springvale Road and Burwood Highway, Burwood
Link: www.romanza.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: family

Romanza is a classic family restaurant. The place itself is half-bar, half-restaurant with comfortable couches for a quiet drink, or tables and chairs in the restaurant part.

~Food~
The menu is very expansive, and has dishes ranging from grills, to pastas, old favourites like parmagiana, scaloppini and so forth. We opted to order four dishes and shared them between us:
  • Linguini with king prawns: the pasta and prawns were tossed through olive oil, herbs and served with a lemon wedge. Although the pasta and sauce were a little bland, the prawns had plenty of flavour and tasted extremely fresh
  • Spring lamb cutlets: the lamb was done really well, slightly crispy and charred on the edges, nice and tender on the inside. There was plenty of accompanying tzatziki, as well as a fresh Mediterranean salad and roasted potatoes
  • Veal scaloppini: thin slices of veal came smothered in a creamy white wine and mushroom sauce, a mound of steamed vegies and roasted potatoes. The veal was nicely done, although the sauce itself could have done with more seasoning.
  • Parmesan crusted chicken: tender chicken fillets came with a slightly crispy Parmesan coating, a very large serving of creamy mash and also a mound of steamed vegies. The chicken was full of flavour and the sauce was rather nice.
The serving sizes were huge... especially the chicken.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place had a more classy casual atmosphere. The lighting was slightly dimmed and the tables were nicely spaced out so that noise wasn't an issue. The service was limited but very sufficient. The waitresses were polite and very accommodating, but were able to leave us to eat in peace, only dropping by once or twice to see if we needed anything else.

~Price~
The mains were all around the $20-$25 mark.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Very satisfied with the variety of food available, decent service, and a nice place for a nice family dinner.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lazy Moe's

Location: corner of Springvale and Canterbury Roads, Forest Hill
Link: www.lazymoes.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: Jean and Mark

~Food~
A rather extensive menu offers plenty of mains, seafoods, pastas and risottos. In addition, they also have nachos, baked spuds and burgers. The steak comes on a massive plate, with a generous serving of either chips and salad or mash and vegies. I found the mash a little too on the sour side, but other than that, the meal couldn't be faulted.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very very casual. This is a typical family restaurant, and when busy, can get rather loud. It's a good place to relax and enjoy good food.

~Price~
Very decent, for the serving sizes, the food was totally worth the price.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
A good local place to grab a quick bite.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Don Tojo

Location: Cardigan Street, Carlton
Cuisine: Japanese
Company: Terry

Lowei suggested this place when Terry and I were looking for a quick bite before our negotiations competition. Turns out I'll have to trust Lowei's judgment of food from now on!

~Food~
The menu was small and totaled about 10 choices, ranging from don (rice) to udon (noodle soups). My sukiyaki (beef) udon soup came loaded with beef, bamboo shoots and udon noodles. Although a little on the dry side (it could have had more soup), it was full of flavour and almost reminded me of the beef I had at Yoshinoya in Hong Kong. Terry's sukiyaki don came also heaped with lots and lots of beef and vegies.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place was rather small, and very casual. It appeared like a place for people after a quick but filling meal, and the service was quite fast - quite possibly due to the limited menu.

~Price~
Very cheap. All dishes were under $10.

~Overall Impression: 8.5/10~Adding this place to my list of quick and cheap eateries!
Don Tojo on Urbanspoon

D.O.C. Pizza and Mozzarella Bar

Location: 295 Drummond Street, Carlton South
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Terry, Lowei, John, Rihan

~Food~
This Italian restaurant and 'Mozzarella Bar' specialises in pizzas with various creative toppings, all done in the traditional Italian way. They also have various 'antipizzas' and 'insalatas'. We ordered 4 pizzas to share amongst the 5 of us, the Italian names are a little too hard to recall but they can be roughly referred to as:
  • Pancetta and [loads of] mozzarella and tomato sauce
  • Chicory, cheese and lemon - the lemon was a tad weird, but creative
  • Lamb sausages with creme broccoli and cheese
  • Porchetta with salad on top
The bases were crisp, even when cold, unlike typical pizza bases which go solid when they go cold. The boys then ordered dessert. The sweet pizza looked delicious, and came with strawberries, ice-cream and white chocolate.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place was bustling when we arrived, and well and truly packed. We were told to put down our names and then stand around and wait. We were finally seated about half an hour later. Service was quite good, although somewhat slow. The waiters and waitresses weren't too rude but took forever to take our orders, bring out the food and then to even get us the bill.

~Price~
Pizzas cost about $15-$20 each, depending on which one you went for. Desserts were about $8. Drinks ranged from $3.50 for soft-drinks to $7 for a glass of wine.

~Overall Impression: 8/10~The food was great, and we spotted a few dishes we'd like to try the next time we go. Although slow, the food was worth the wait. And a bonus is that they shave their meats fresh - with a giant meat shaver out the front.


D.O.C. Pizza and Mozzarella Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oakdene Vineyards

Location: 255 Grubb Road Wallington, Ocean Grove
Link: www.oakdene.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: MSJ Winter Clerks

We were taken down to Ocean Grove for lunch as a farewell for our winter clerkship. It's approximately a 1.5 hour drive to the winery but the food awaiting us was well worth the drive! The meal was accompanied by wine tasting - a series of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot and shiraz.

~Food~
The food was absolutely amazing. We were given a choice from a set menu for each course. The menu looked like this:


For entree, I ordered the 'King scallops with pancetta, celeriac, Lake Connewarre samphire and black truffle butter'. The scallops were tender and wrapped in crisp pancetta. The flavours complemented each other perfectly and the butter sauce finished it off beautifully.


For the main course, I had the 'Tasmanian salmon fillet with eshallot creamed potato, broccolini and lemon beurre blanc'. The salmon was crispy skinned on the top, and tender and juicy underneath. The salmon was perched on top of broccolini and a bed of creamy mashed potato. The mash was perfect - smooth and creamy, with just enough butter and salt to flavour it. It was finished off with the highlight of the dish - the lemon butter sauce!


I lament that I didn't get a photo of the dessert, for it was so beautifully presented. I chose the 'Chocolate fondant with Belgium chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream'. The dish came with a thin chocolate biscuit standing upright in the fondant, which was smothered in chocolate sauce. The ice-cream was a necessity to balance out the richness of the chocolate.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very relaxed. We booked out one of the back rooms that overlooked the garden. Albeit cold without the heaters and overly warm with them, the area was a good area for group functions. The service was quite nice considering they had to deal with almost 30 of us.

~Price~
I have no idea about the price - the firm paid for us.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
With the food so amazingly fresh and full of flavour, I recommend the drive to anyone up for a bit of a day trip.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Margo's: Crayfish Mornay

Location: Gaming Area, Crown Entertainment Complex
Link: www.crowncasino.com.au/.../Margos_alacarte_Menu_30Aug09.pdf
Cuisine: Grill, Seafood


As part of a work social function, we headed to Margo's for a 'quick' dinner before a movie. Probably not the ideal place to go when you have a big group and don't plan to arrive very early, as the place will not take any bookings and there is generally a waiting line unless you arrive around 6pm. Friday nights and weekends are the busiest nights of the week, and you will be seated much faster if you arrive early.

Half crayfish mornay

I ordered the half crayfish mornay and it was absolutely amazing! The meat inside the shell was soft, sweet and fresh. The mornay sauce was also not too heavy, just enough to add a very nice flavour to the crayfish. The accompanying fries and salad weren't too bad either. One of the best meals I have ever eaten!


Surf'n'turf platter

Two of my colleagues ordered the surf'n'turf platter - one tier of meat, one tier of seafood. I didn't hear any complaints.

The service was pretty decent. Our food arrived at around the same time and was of a very high quality. The waiters were friendly, and we appreciated the way they were able to arrange a large table for us despite us arriving close to 7pm on a Saturday night.

Overall Impression: 9.5/10

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Firehouse

Location: Maroondah Highway, Ringwood
Cuisine: Western
Company: Mark

~Food~
For a relatively new place, the food was absolutely divine. The menu is interesting. You can either have a meal of small tapas dishes (small entree size dishes) or pick one as an entree and have the usual entree-main-dessert combo. I love the tapas idea. Esp with a group of friends, you get to try a little of everything and not end up over ordering like usual!
We got the marinated octopus- it was fresh and delicious.

Mains where salty, crispy skin duck and angus beef 400g rib eye. The duck itself was beautiful. Very fresh and the skin was delicious. It made a nice change to the usual peking duck! It came with a strange mandarin/apple/potato salad... i didn't like the flavour but it was also very fresh. The beef was also incredibly fresh and juicy. It came with mash (cant go wrong with mash) and beef jus.

The only problem was everything was slightly undersalted for my liking but you can easily add more salt.

I loved the obvious quality of the ingredients used and the fact that they were very mindful of the fructose issue, allowing us to have the jus on the side and taking time to check with the chefs.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The restaurant is very well decorated. It is set inside the old firestation and has retained the charm. There are several small rooms (perfect for functions) and everything is a pretty red colour.

Our waitress was possibly the nicest server I've ever come across. Very helpful but not overly intrusive. Took a lot of care with the fructose as mentioned above. Big ticks there!

~Price~
Slightly pricey, about $7 for starters (they are small though) and $27-30 for mains. Well worth it for the quality but at the moment only for special occasions! (this one being my birthday keke) Once we have nice, full time employment I think the prices are actually quite reasonable.

~Overall Impression~
10/10- Good food, great service, felt the meal was worth the money we spent.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tsindos

Location: 197 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne[near Russell Street]
Link: www.tsindosrestaurant.com.au
Cuisine: Greek
Company: Dan

~Food~
The food was decent. We ordered saganaki with red capsicum and fetta for entree. The dish came out in a small pan and the flavours were nice and strong, but well balanced. For mains, I ordered a mixed grill [chicken souvlaki, lamb gyro, lamb rissole, lamb cutlet, sausage, salad etc] and Dan ordered a seafood platter [prawns, fish, Greek pasta, saganaki sauce etc]. Serving sizes were generous and the lamb gyro was amazing. The salad could have done with a little more dressing and fetta though.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place itself is cosy and casual, but the service was lacking - or rather selective. We were greeted at the door and shown to a table in a very pleasant manner. But once the waitress took our orders, the service pretty much ended there. Our food came out after quite a long wait, and they brought our mains out before we had even finished the entree. The worst part was that they didn't clear away any used plates even though we had piled a nice little collection on the side of the table. And when we waved for service, one waiter nodded curtly and then palmed us off to another waitress.

~Price~
The prices were suitable given the serving sizes. Usual $20-$30 for mains. They also had set menus and share platters that were a little more expensive.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
I wouldn't be rushing back to this place, only because the food was nice but not quite enough to make up for the bad service.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Vegie Bar

Location: 380 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Link: www.menulog.com.au/the_vegie_bar
Cuisine: vegetarian
Company: Eb and Alex

~Food~
The menu was quite expansive and covered a whole range of cuisines - just no meat. We got a starter called 'Duo' to share, which was essentially warmed roti bread and some wild rice with a curry dip and a lentil dip. The roti was really good but the dips were a bit bland, especially the curry one.

For main, I ordered the Gado Gado, a whole heap of vegetables and lentils with a bowl of satay sauce. Whilst the serving was large, I could have done with more of the sauce as it was a little on the bland side too. I found it a little amusing they even threw in bok-choy into the mix, as it's one of the vegetables I would never had with satay sauce [and it did taste funny].

For dessert, Alex decided we were going to eat the vegan chocolate cake with soy ice-cream. This was a completely new experience for me, as I only ever eat normal chocolate cake with normal [full cream] ice-cream. I was surprised at how good the cake was, although it was a little hard and crumbly at the sides and the base [like a cookie!] and also at how normal the ice-cream tasted too.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very casual and also very crowded. We arrived around 6.30pm and the place was already bustling. We managed to get some seats at a communal table, where the seats were literally leather stools. Can't say it was the most comfortable seating but the mood of the place was quite relaxed. The service was minimal but we didn't have to wait long for our food or for service [despite it being so busy].

~Price~
Very cheap. Mains were around $10-$15. Our total bill was just over $45 for three of us. Quite a good deal.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
Given the price, the fast service and the casual nature of the place, the place would be quite suitable for those after a quick cheap feed or those running on time constraints. The menu was intriguing enough for me to want to go back one day and try something else, hopefully with slightly stronger flavour.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Brasserie

Location: Crown Casino
Link: www.thebrasserieatcrown.com.au
Cuisine: French
Company: Dan

~Food~
We ordered from the pre-theatre menu, which included either an entree or dessert, and a main for $38.50. For entree, we ordered the 'Tasmanian cured salmon, spelt blini, horseradish crème fraîche and condiments' which was wonderfully done. I'm not usually a fan of raw or rare food, but the salmon was cured so well that there was no 'fishy' taste at all. The 'spelt blini' turned out to be a type of soft bread, something a bit like a spanish omelette. The cream and 'condiments' were awesome very tasty and complemented the salmon well.

For mains, Dan ordered the 'Oven-roasted fillet of gold band snapper, crustacean fumet, chick pea purée' while I had the 'Pan-seared beef sirloin maître d'hôtel or with béarnaise sauce, French fries'. The beef was a little tough but the sauce was really nice. Chips were okay, not quite french fries though. The snapper came with some weird chip looking thing, but the sauce smelt quite nice.

Then came the jackpot of the night - dessert of 'Chocolate marquise with pistachio anglaise and vanilla sorbet'. Absolutely awesome! The chocolate marquise was soft and very rich, and the sorbet was the perfect complement.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service was friendly but sometimes a little lacking. The French waiters had quite a strong accent and it was sometimes hard to tell what they were saying. One waitress in particular seemed to have a limited grasp of English and when I asked if they stocked 'Appletiser', she thought I meant 'appertiser' and she trotted off confusedly and we never saw her again.

The place itself was quite relaxed but classy. Lighting was slightly dimmed but not dark, and the upstairs windows overlook one of the Crown flamethrowers. There is also outside seating for those who don't mind the cold.

~Price~
The menu is somewhat quite expensive. The pre-theatre menu is clearly a good deal as most of the mains alone are around the $40 mark. Only catch for this is that you have to order before 7pm.

~Overall Impression~
Very impressed with the quality and presentation of the food, as well as the atmosphere itself. Will probably try it again when the pre-theatre menu changes.
The Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fedoulla's Cuccina

Location: Shop 42, 43 - 45 Collins Place, Collins Street [near Spring Street]
Link: www.fedoullas.com
Cuisine: Greek, Modern Australian
Company: the Law Crew

~Food~
The menu wasn't very extensive, but was quite broad in terms of the types of dishes available, the range included fish and chips, lamb skewers, soup, steak, salad, calamari, pasta, degustation set menus and a few daily specials. I ordered the veal scallopini [which seems to have disappeared off most restaurant menus these days] which was excellent - the veal was tender and juicy, the roasted vegies it sat on was sweet and had the grilled 'smokey' taste, and the mushroom sauce that was poured over the lot was full of mushrooms and flavours. Among the other dishes, the fish and chips came in huge servings with some very crunchy chips, the lamb came atop Mediterranean salad and the degustation seemed quite worth the price per head, including a glass of wine each, and a series of entrees and share platters.

The dessert menu on the other hand was virtually non-existent. The waiter merely pointed out the cakes that were left int he front display case and told us we were welcome to choose from blueberry cheesecake or some vanilla slice. We opted out of dessert and left.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very classy looking place, but the atmosphere was rather casual. We booked ahead to ensure we got a table [for 10] and were seated within a reasonable amount of time. The waiters were particular patient [as we were waiting for one more person to come and then order] and also very helpful, double checking our queries with the kitchen before giving us definite answers. The food all came out around the same time [minus a slight serving time difference between the two plates of fish and chips] and again quite speedily.

~Price~
The prices were quite average and reasonable. Mains ranged from $15 - $25 depending on what you order.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
I was very impressed with the quality of the food as well as the service. The waiters knew when to approach and when to leave us alone. We'll definitely be going back to this place in the near future

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kenzan

Location: GPO, Bourke Street Mall
Cuisine: Japanese
Company: Jie, Liz, Helen

Not to be confused with the Kenzan on Collins Street, this Kenzan was tucked away in a small arcade behind GPO. It's a place for a quick, but fulfilling lunch.

~Food~
The menu was what you would typically expect from a small Japanese restaurant - an array of sushi, udon, ramen and rice dishes. Being cold and hungry, we all ordered noodle soups. My niku udon came with an amazing mushroom broth, the beef was also 'well-seasoned' as the menu said it would be, but cooked for too long such that it was on the tough side. The udon was soft and slipped into your mouth easily. We still wonder why Japanese people like to give out massive, spoons, it's not as though their mouths are any bigger than the rest of the world's!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Service was minimal. The place was very casual, with minimal seating inside the actually restaurant. We sat outside under some heaters, which were turned up just that little bit too much. It was actually a little like a fast food joint - pay at the counter for your meal, take a number and they bring the food out to you when it's ready. The lady at the counter could have smiled, but the waitresses who brought out our food out were friendly enough.

~Price~
A bit on the pricey side for a bowl of noodle soup [normally you would expect to pay $7-$10], but the udon was softer than I would normally get and the soup had it's own distinctive flavour.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Really really awesome food. Liz said that the sushi is also really good, so we'll have to try that one day too.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Balsamic

Location: Eastland [next door to Hoyts]
Link: www.balsamic.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Italian, Asian
Company: Jean, Mark, Jenny

~Food~
A menu containing pizza, risotto, stir fries and steaks provides a nice variety. Although some mains were larger then others, seeming Jean and Jen both had larger servings (shanks and ribs) then Mark and I (steak and risotto), they were extremely satisfying. Ribs came with a side of wedges and a salad and the steak and shanks came with mash.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The atmosphere is very lively, bustling with people throughout the entire night. Service may lack in some areas but is partly due to the busy night. While the food came out quite quickly, asking for a bottle of water was a struggle since all their staff were extremely busy.

~Price~
Prices were decent, ranging from $4-$10 for entrees and $20-$30 for mains.

~Overall Impression 8/10~
Food was filling and really satisfying. Service was lacking slightly but due to how busy the place is. Overall, very impressed with the quality of service and food.

Friday, June 20, 2008

City Grill Room [aka Squires Loft]

Location: Little Lonsdale Street [near William St]
Link: www.squiresloft.com.au
Cuisine: Grill, Modern Australian
Company: Jenny

~Food~
For lovers of steak, this is the place to be. You can take your choice of burgers, fish, prawns or the various cuts of steak with either a side of chips or a baked potato being their mains. Just to note, sauces are ordered separately from the mains.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Nice private feel to the place with some music to boot. The service was really good for the following reasons...our orders came out really quickly, waiters are really friendly and also when you ask for your steak to be cooked further, you'll receive fresh new sides including the sauce.

~Price~
The steak would be the most priciest part of the meal where prices range between $24-$55 depending on the weight and cut. Ordering an entree of prawn kebabs, 2 steaks (mains) with sauces and drinks, came down to ~$80 for two.

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
Excellent service, food with a private atmosphere. I was impressed with the quality and speed of which the food came out once ordered. Also we got a note for a free dessert for the next time we came back.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tasty Thai

Location: Food Court, QV or Australia on Collins

Cuisine: take-away, Thai

~Food~
Menu is rather specific and includes a variety of stir-fried, pad thai, curries, appetisers, salads and so on. I had the Tom Yum Prawns which was pretty much Tom Yum soup with a few prawns, some tomatoes, mushrooms and various leaves. Quite tasty, but a little spicy.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very quick, and the food was made in 3 minutes as promised - less time than it took for Jie and Liz to get their KFC!

~Price~
Slightly overpriced for food court fare - my soup was $8 and only contained 3 prawns. The soup was nice and full of flavour. For an extra $1 you can get rice to go with it. Combos are also available.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
Quick and tasty, I might try out the Pad Thai on Saturday.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Seafood Hut

Location: Hawthorn/Kew Area
Cuisine: Asian/Chinese
Company: Family

~Food~
Very good seafood, rest of the stuff is average. They make the best oysters with XO sauce and the best mud crab. YUM. All the seafood there is so fresh. They make a great duck egg coated prawn dish as well ('golden sand prawns') that's not on the menu but you should request it.
The fried rice was average. The meat dishes were yummy but not exceptional.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Service is friendly for an Asian place but they gave us 12 oysters when we ordered 14 (coz we had 7 ppl at the table) but they did cook the other two later so it wasn't too bad.

~Price~
Great for seafood banquets. The quality and quantity justifies the price. It was a birthday dinner so it was slightly more pricey. For oyster, crab and seafood stew plus 3 or 4 other dishes, it ended up being $35 a head.

~Overall Impression~
Love this place. Our family always comes here for the traditional birthday celebrations.
9.8/10

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Von's

Location: 78 Hardware Lane
Link: www.vonsrestaurant.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Italian

~Menu~
The menu was very much alcohol-oriented. A lot of the mains involved vodka or red wine or alcohol of some sorts. I safely ordered the [non-alcoholic] chicken picasso. Good stuff. Jean's pasta was awesome too and actually comparable to Lygon Street. Tiramisu for dessert - too "cakey" for my liking.

~Entertainment~
The place apparently had a band playing but I didn't notice. The conversations emanating from our tables was more than enough - highly entertaining, and bordering on "inappropriate"...lol! Jemma's contributions were dirty as usual. There was much said which would be quite inappropriate to relay here, you just had to be there.

~Service~
The waiters were alright. I would much rather that they did not continually ask if we wanted garlic bread for starters, but I guess it's their policy to ask.

Overall rating: 8/10

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fu Long

Location: 942 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill [near Station Street]
Cuisine: Chinese
Company: family

~Food~
When I go to a restaurant, I aim to order dishes that appear to unique to that place [without going so far as wild game, crocodile or coral] or seem to be a specialty of the chef. As a result, we bailed out on the 4 person banquet - which appeared to be very good value for money but unsurprisingly boring in content - and opted for our own selection. Well, pretty much my choice.

So we ended up ordering
  • Deep-fried spare ribs in prawn paste - light and crunchy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside. The marinade was done very well and there wasn't too much oil.
  • Fu Long ginger-spiced chicken - steamed chicken in a very nice liquid sauce, with shredded ginger and spring onions over the top. Plenty of flavour and the ginger set off a nice contrast to the slightly oily sauce.
  • Seafood and bean curd claypot - lots of seafood, some vegies and bean curd in a sizzling pot. The seafood included prawns, scallops, squid and fish, and tasted quite fresh. The bean curd was a little bland, the sauce wasn't very strong - you could drink it like soup.
As with most restaurants of the same type, the meal came with soup, rice, red-bean paste soup and a fruit platter, not to mention the tea!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Service was pretty crap - the waitresses seemed disinterested and unorganised. One asked if we were ready to order, then wandered off saying that someone else would come... we had to hail down another waitress in order to do so. Then when she was talking to us, other waitresses would come and interrupt to ask her things - instead of patiently waiting on the sideline.

~Price~
The price was alright - the banquet would have been cheaper, but as stated, I wanted to try a few more unique dishes so we paid more. Our meal totalled to just over $60, with some take away for tomorrow.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
The food was good but not enough to make up for the poor service or the price. I think the waitresses need to be taught how to smile and be more attentive.

Fu Long on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Majenta

Location: 454 Whitehorse Road Mitcham [between Rooks and Mitcham Roads]
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Dan

Went to Majenta once with Jean about a year ago and we both absolutely loved the Tuscan grill, which gave the restaurant a high rating in our opinions. The place is nice and local, but comparatively, could match or even beat many of the places at Crown.

~Food~
The menu isn't very long, but at the same time it covers a wide variety of food. Dan ordered the Porterhouse steak, I ordered a dish called 'involitini a la romana', which was basically a dish of veal wrapped in prosciutto rolled around some asparagus spears. The veal was really tender and well-marinated. The sauce was also quite tasty, which meant the vegies on the side were also quite nice. The non-alcoholic drinks menu was rather limited, and they didn't stock flavoured San Pelligrino - instead the waitress talked me into ordering a chinota, which tasted awful.

For dessert, Dan ordered a raspberry pizza [although using strawberries instead of raspberries because they had 'run out of raspberries'], and I ordered chocolate mousse. Both were fantastic, but huge!

~Atmosphere and Service~
Nice and classy. You can treat the place as a nice and quiet place for dinner, or a casual family meal. The waiters are quite friendly and helpful, and the food arrived within a reasonable time frame.

~Price~
Very decently priced as the servings were pretty large and the quality was superb. Definitely Crown restaurant quality, if not better.

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
Been there twice now and both times thoroughly enjoyed it. Will definitely be back for more!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Toff in Town

Location: Curtin House, above Cookie on Swanston Street near Lonsdale Street
Link: www.thetoffintown.com.au
Cuisine: French, Spanish, Modern Australian
Company: Dan, Stace, YC

The Toff is tucked away at the top of Curtin House. After climbing numerous flights of steps, past Cookie, you arrive at a smallish entrance. In front of you is the bar, to your right is a train-like structure, composed of multiple booths. Each booth has its own doors and blinds for privacy, as well as a 'alert' button for when you require service. Bookings only, the place is nice and warm, with some bands playing in the background.

~Food~
After some initial confusion and hesitation about the menu - which consisted of a number of French, Italian and Spanish words that we did not understand, we opted to share 3 main dishes, a cheese board and two desserts:
  • Air Dried Wagyu with Parmesan & Artichoke Panna Cotta [$18.50]
  • Brochette of Scallops & Salmon wrapped in Jamon with Almond & Rice Salad [$22.50]
  • Smoked Duck Breast with Spiced Currant & Red Cabbage Salad [$21.50]
  • Cheese board with 3 cheeses, crackers and walnuts [$18.50]
  • Caramelised Orange with Chocolate Mousse & Brandy Snaps [$12.50]
  • Flourless Black Forrest Cake with Morello Cherries [$13.00]
[Caramelised Orange with Chocolate Mousse & Brandy Snaps]

Yes, dishes copied directly from menu, I don't have that good a memory!

This was the first time I have ever tasted Wagyu and it was very well done. Thinly sliced, it tasted a little bit like salami but also it's own unique flavour. The scallops and salmon were extremely well-cooked, the Jamon wrapping it was again thinly sliced and full of flavour. The almonds and rice in the salad gave it a nice texture. The duck breast was fantastic, smokey and not too oily. The salad of currants and red cabbage wasn't too bad either.

The cheese board came with brie, blue vein and a tougher cheese that tasted a bit like parmesan. The crackers were, well, just crackers, the dough pieces were a little nicer. Dessert was token. The black forrest cake was nice and soft, rich with chocolate and drizzled with cream. The brandy snaps and chocolate mousse were devine, the snaps had a nice ginger tang to them.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Nice and secluded, a good sense of privacy, and the waiters were extremely helpful and attentive. It can be a little noisy but with the doors shut, some background noise can be easily cut out.

~Price~
Slightly on the expensive side [prices listed above already]. The servings were not huge, but as our waiter warned us, there weren't made so much as for a meal as for a 'delicacy'. There were a lot of new flavours we hadn't tried before and probably would not have been game enough to try on our own, but well worth the experience!

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Absolutely loved the place. Would have liked a slightly more extensive menu, or the inclusion of a few more 'normal' dishes but the atmosphere and the service just make the place that little bit more special compared to other restaurants!

Ghin Khao

Location: Swanston Street, between Lonsdale and Little Bourke Streets
Cuisine: Thai
Company: Mandy

~Food~
The menu was rather large in size...with the dishes grouped under logical headings such as 'rice' and 'noodles' etc. There were some key dishes such as Tom Yum with variants - chicken, prawns and vegetarian, and some unique dishes too. Mandy went for a fried rice, I opted for the Tom Yum prawns with noodles. The soup was nice, not too spicy, just the right taste. The noodles were like thin rice noodles and carried the flavour of the soup well. The prawns were fresh and there were plenty of them. Mandy's fried rice took a little while to arrive but with a squeeze of lemon, tasted wonderful.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very casual, the waitresses were attentive when you needed them, otherwise they just left you alone. My Tom Yum arrived rather quickly, the fried rice took a little longer.

~Price~
Slightly on the expensive side compared to the usual $8 - $10 cheap Asian food, but for dishes that were rich in flavour and satisfying, well worth it.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
Good food, rich in flavour, rather quick service.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seoul House

Location: 234 Russell Street, near corner of Lonsdale
Cuisine: Korean, BBQ
Company: Dan

Seoul House is a hidden on the second floor near the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Streets. Once you make it up the narrow staircase, you will notice that the place is rather spacious, essentially the size of two rooms. seating is comfortable and spaciousThe tables have built in BBQ hot plates.

~Food~
The menu wasn't too bad. Not extensive, but not so limited that we didn't find anything worth ordering either. The place specialises in Korean BBQ so we ordered a beef bulgogi BBQ along with stir-fried seafood, rice and Korean pancake [which was supposed to be an entree but arrived last of all the dishes!]. As with most Korean places, we also got complimentary side dishes, and there were a lot of them too! The beef was fantastic - well-marinated, tender and had that nice smokey flavour from the BBQ. The pancake was really interesting, reminded me of the fried oyster pancakes from Taiwanese night markets, but was stuffed with a variety of seafood and crispy. A few of the side dishes were quite good, whilst others tasted solely of chilli. The stir-fry was a little ordinary and could have done with more flavour.

[The multitudes of complimentary side dishes]


[Korean pancake stuffed with small bites of seafood]


[Beef bulgogi BBQ]


[Stir-fried seafood with vegetables]


~Atmosphere and Service~
The service was pleasant, fast and non-intrusive. The waitresses were quick to respond to our requests and were very knowledgeable about the menu and the servings. We ordered the pancake on their recommendation and were very pleased with it, although as an entree, it should have come out first but instead came out last.

~Price~
In comparison with other Korean restaurants, the prices were quite reasonable. Dishes were between $15 to $20. A three person BBQ pack was around $50. Drinks as usual are a little more pricey.

~Overall Impression: 8/10~
Was quite pleased with the food and service provided. Will be returning for the BBQ.
Seoul House Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Vietnamese Grill Restaurant

Location: Swanston Street, between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Company: Jenn

Both our parents had been to this place already and given us great feedback, so we decided we would try it out for ourselves.

~Food~
The menu had a range of traditional Vietnamese dishes like betal beef and rice paper rolls, as well as some with more of a Chinese influence like roast duck noodles. There was also a rather extensive range of drinks on the menu too. I ordered the crispy chicken on rice and a coconut and green jelly drink. Jenn ordered crab meat noodles and the same drink. My rice was somewhat ordinary, I guess after ordering I wish I had ordered the betal beef instead. The jelly in the drink was a little tougher than it should have been.

~Atmosphere and Service~
If you want a place with proper service, this is not it. The waitress not only had a limited grasp of English, they were completely clueless. There were special combos on the walls for certain set meals, all of which came with a logan drink. I checked the menu and the jelly drink was the same price, so we both asked to change it. Not only did the waitress say it couldn't be done, she also couldn't give us a reason! Later on we called another waitress over and asked her, she also didn't know.

~Price~
Quite cheap, around $8 - $10 for mains, about $4 for drinks. Combos were about $13 but quite limited in flexibility.

~Overall Impression: 5.5/10~
May come back for a quick feed if after Viet food - since Mekong was found to have some health issues - but won't be sitting on my top food list.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wonderings

Why are the servings so much smaller at Jam Factory TGI than at their other outlets.
(It can't be the quality of service since it was quite awful and slow) (It couldn't have been the chef coz my steak was not medium well)

What could it be...?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Various

I'm lazy, so mini-reviews of random places I've been to. Company: various

BEST FOOD GALLERY
Location: Box Hill, Station St (next to Time Zone)
Cuisine: Chinese

~Food~
Large portions, always pretty filling. They have a family buffet which is $52 and which is soup, four mains and dessert. I never leave hungry. The 'spicy beef/fish' (la zhu niu rou/yu-no, i cannot translate from Chinese) is great (not too spicy unless you're from Northern China or Taiwan, and don't eat true cooking) and my brother likes the Sweet n Sour Chicken. Basically it's just the cheapest decent eat I know, pho restaurants aside. 3/5

~Atmosphere and Service~ 2/5
It's a Chinese restaurant and most of the waitstaff look like they're doing arts degrees.

~Price~
Mains around 12-15 each.

~Overall Impression~
6.8/10. Great value & portions, mediocre service, good location.


THE BRASSERIE
Location: Crown
Cuisine: French

~Food~ I loved the food. We chose from the pre-theatre menu which is two courses per person. (Choose from entree, main, dessert.) The entree was chicken liver and foie gras terrine with onion jam. It was a lot more appetising than it sounds. The jam was sweet and subtle and went well with the terrine. Mains were a fillet of John Dory with potato and balsamic vinaigrette and beef sirloin steak with fries. I ordered the steak medium and it was very, very tender. It was just a steak, i.e. nothing else except some bearnaise sauce (I have no idea what that is), but it was filling. Dessert was chocolate marquise (similar to mousse but not as whipped) with vanilla sorbet and some pistachio thingy. Probably the best dish. Small but pretty and very rich. The wine was also good, but pricey. 4.5/5

~Atmosphere and Service~ 3.5/5
There's downstairs & upstairs, inside and out. We ate outside which has a good view of the Yarra and the city's lights. There are heaters so it's not cold except for occasional gusts of wind. The maitre'd had an awesome russian accent and was very helpful, and the waiters were prompt, but very busy.

~Price~
Pre-theatre menu is $38 a person. Wines about 10-14 per glass.

~Overall Impression~
really liked it. 8/10
The Brasserie on Urbanspoon

NOTTURNO
Location: Lygon (near Grattan)
Cuisine: Italian/skip
~Food~
I had the pizza, made with thin crust like the real thing, but without a whole lot of base. Pretty passable but nothing special. The desserts are quite nice, though, particularly the pancakes and ice cream. Servings are large. 3/5

~Atmosphere and Service~ 3.5/5
I just like the fact that this place is nearby, open till late and pretty relaxed. There're always enough people to have some atmosphere but not too many, and there's usually soccer on the TV. Service is prompt and tables are very comfy.

~Price~
About 8-14 a dish.

~Overall Impression~
7/10.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lotus and Bamboo

Location: Carrington Road, Box Hill
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Company: family

Having been there once before and quite content with their service, we headed there again after my dad saw new hotpot specials in the Chinese newspaper.

~Food~
We ordered a 4-person banquet as well as a hotpot... which was definitely over-ordering! The banquet was good as they were flexible with changing some of the meals. We ended up with:
  • Entrees of seaweed ties, fried tofu
  • Sliced belly pork with bamboo shoots and tofu
  • Shredded chicken salad
  • Stewed fish
  • Vegies
  • Rice
  • Hotpot with lamb and assorted vegies
The vegies were a little plain in my opinion, but the rest was quite good. The banquet was very well balanced with a good contrast in flavours, and alone would have been more than enough for us, but given we had also ordered the hotpot, we took a lot of it home.

The hotpot was considerably cheap for what we got, and as with any good hotpot, the soup at the end is absolutely amazing! The lamb was very thinly sliced, albeit a little too fatty (even for me). They actually sliced the corn into around 5mm slices, enabling it to cook much faster and making it more convenient to eat.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Being a Tuesday night, it was rather quiet. The atmosphere is casual, much like many of the small restaurants in Box Hill. The boss himself was out on the floor, and was very flexible with us altering the menu

~Price~
Very cheap for the amount of food there was. The banquet was $48, the hotpot $15. We also ordered two drinks at the end, bringing the bill to $65. Not bad considering what we took home lasted another meal!

~Overall Impression: 9/10~Will definitely be going back again for another cheap and quick feed! For a small restaurant, the food was much better than anticipated and the service was quite good too.

Lotus and Bamboo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oedo Sushi Cafe

Location: a small side street on the south side of Nunawading Station [Link]
Cuisine: Japanese
Company: Jeanie

When we found out that the place we wanted to eat at was closed on Tuesdays, Jeanie and I decided to explore the little shops around the station, in search for a light but filling lunch. Neither of us had eaten breakfast and therefore didn't really feel like KFC.

~Food~
For a tiny little shop, the food was quite decent. We both ordered the lunchtime bento box, consisting of miso soup, a sushi roll and chicken teriyaki with salad on rice. The miso soup was nice and even comparable to Sushi Monger. The sushi roll was freshly made and the teriyaki sauce was done quite well too. Somewhat concerned that their idea of 'salad' consisted of two pieces of cucumber and two pieces of tomato with a squeeze of mayonnaise! Other than that, quite happy with the food.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Being out in the suburbs, the place was very quiet and casual, with the odd person or two popping in to buy sushi on the go. There isn't much of a view, one look out the window and all you see are little factories and warehouses - dull, grey and boring. The waiter was friendly and helpful, although he didn't have a very good grasp of English and confused Jeanie's order of 'tuna' with 'chicken'.

~Price~
Cheap. The bento box cost us $8.80 each. The rest of the menu seemed similar.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
Wasn't too bad for the price and location. The tip when ordering is to keep it simple - basically, point at the menu and they'll understand. They can't remember more than one thing at a time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Watermark

Location: Tenancy 9, 800 Bourke Street, Docklands
Link: www.watermarkbar.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: Jie's 21st

Jie chose this place off Melbourne.com.au... Interestingly when she picked the place, she had never been to it and had no idea where it was. Anyway, Watermark is a bar without a slightly disjointed area for the restaurant. After a certain hour, they clear away the tables and that part becomes an open area for the club.

~Food~
The menu was rather extensive for what one would expect at a bar, and the food was of really good quality. The skewers at the beginning were really well done, with awesome dipping sauces and creative combinations of vegetables with meat. The mains were fantastic. I ordered the chicken breast, which was really tender inside, and crispy on the outside, the mash was really soft and creamy, The vegies on the other hand, involved steamed beans, and a giant piece of broccoli. The place must love its broccoli! Liz's fish and chips looked fresh and the chips were really good. The menu also included a range of pasta, risotto, steaks and grills. Servings were quite large too, especially the parmagiana.

















































~Atmosphere and Service~

The waiters were extremely friendly and helpful. They were also quite patient as most of the guests arrived late and we took so long to order and eat. The atmosphere in the restaurant area was very casual, if a little cold due to the open door. The place also overlooked the water, which gave the place a classy feel too.

The club-like atmosphere is probably like all others, given the only other club I've ever been to was F4. There was a hype in the place, and the people there were quite friendly. Cloakroom was a little confusing at the start, and somewhat expensive too, but the overall feel of the place was comfortable.

~Price~
Average. Menu pricings were very similar to a lot of our regular haunts. Mains ranged between $15 to $30. But given the serving sizes, it can probably be deemed as fairly low-priced..

~Overall Impression: 9.5/10~
A nice place to chill and grab a nice meal before heading into the bar area for drinks if you wish. The place is accessible by tram [down Harbour Esplanade], but before you go, get an idea of where it's exactly located, because it doesn't have a streetfront view.