Sunday, 25 September 2011

Cavallini - Melbourne - 354 Queens Pde, Clifton Hill

This is my local for a coffee - every weekend. But it is more than that. Cavallini has an old world sort of French feel to it with both indoor and outdoor eating. The baguettes are fantastic as are pretty much all the cakes that I have made my way through. Oh and the coffee is very good.

It is actually the best place in Clifton Hill for a feed. Good for the owners because it draws a crowd and the margins must be good as the nothing here is cheap.

But this is a bad wrap for Clifton Hill.  This is my whinge - why with all the great eats around in every suburb like Fitzroy and Northcote does no one ever think to open up a memorable joint in Clifton Hill. I get excited every time a new place opens and just on entry my heart is broken every time.

To all the great chefs out there or the new up and comings - Clifton Hill is a place to pillage - think about it.

Rating for Cavallini - 8/10
Rating for Clifton Hill: 1/10 - get a move on please!

Cavallini on Urbanspoon

Terminus Hotel - Melbourne - 492 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill

This is my local pub. The atmosphere is warm and there is no pretention like other pubs in Richmond. It attracts just the locals which I love.

I had a steak sandwich. Very good beer battered chips and the steak was cooked well but the bun was a tad soggy and there was too much tomato chutney.

Nevertheless I will come back here again because it is my local and I can get a decent steak, a good glass of wine and feel that sense of community.


Terminus Hotel on Urbanspoon

St Katherine's - Melbourne - 26 Cotham Road, Kew

This was my second visit to St Katherine's.

I wanted to love it but didn't the first time and the second, liked it even less.

There are too many cuisines going on and little is executed well.

The first time, the best dish was a ricotta tiropita with had an impeccably cooked pastry which felt like it had a hint of orange in it, even if it didn't. The meat was succulent but the chicken was not.  And the snapper which I find is easy to cook with some juiciness, unless you leave it on the BBQ for hours, was dry.

The food came out too fast and at the end there was no - "Did you like your meal?" I felt like George Calombaris holding up his first three fingers together saying "You need to do better than this".

Now for the second time round.  The Turkish lamb dumplings sounded and looked interesting but there was too much dough and the flavours just did not work.  The stuffed calamari was cooked well but was rather bland.

The pide was soggy in the centre, the chicken was dry again and the cous cous lacked salt or something.

The highlights were the delicate swordfish, the sweet/tart beetroot which had a lovely hint of fennel seeds and the salted caramel chocolate with a loukmade.

The other highlight was the conversation. My friend had a side of salt and chilli for each dish. I said that I get offended when people add salt to the food I cook. But he said that it should be an absolute delight when somebody adds salt to suit their palate, anybody who gets offended lacks confidence. Thank goodness the brains behind this place don't lack confidence.

I feel that this is a restaurant that has butts on seats because of the celebrity factor,  And I am being harsh because that factor raises expectations. So be it! If you open a restaurant and don't take the care where care is what you publicise to be all about, then for one to be more critical is warranted. I am just worried that people think this is really great food.

Overall my friend described St Katherine's very well -  Uneventful really!

St Katherine's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Chin Chin - Melbourne - 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Melbourne has taken a while to catch up in the good Thai stakes and it is slowly getting there. The next cuisines on the rank for a rehaul are Japanese and Korean.

After a great evening watching a dance performance, we thought we would try our luck at Chin Chin.  The previous time I tried it was an hour wait and my stomach was crawling up my throat, so gave it a miss.  This time it was around 9:30pm and we got a table straight away. And the place was still pumping when we left at midnight.

Chin Chin is a modern Thai place with cool and quirky wait staff.

Folks, it is the old Icon bar and for those of you who spend their lives in the business end of town on a Friday night, those memories of watching your friends dancing on the bar still remain.   In fact the restaurant even plays the good time work function retro classics - think Love Cats.

The menu has a lot of choice and for someone like me who is so indecisive, way too much. This is saved, however, by our waitress who could tell us exactly what we should eat and how much - I like that.

We started with pork roll ups and plum sauce ($18).  The plum sauce was excellent and the pork juicy, freshened up with mint and coriander. My friend and I argued over whether this dish should have included some crispy crackling - she thought yes and I thought there is so much pork fat going on in Melbourne, I just enjoyed the clean taste of pork.

Next was crispy barramundi with green apple and caralmelised pork ($26). At the first bite I loved it but then as I ate on, I felt there were too many strong flavours going on, it needed some refinement. I am sure though many will just love this dish - there are some new tastes happening.

The mandarin duck on the other hand was a more sophisticated dish ($33) - sweet and a touch of sour, a really interesting flavour and the duck rather juicy. The rice, however, was overcooked.

The crowd here is non-corporate in a world of suits, which is refreshing.  The reason for this is the funky warehouse feel, the explosion of tastes and the price.

I enjoyed Chin Chin and it was great value for money but I think they could pull back on the number of flavours in some dishes.

I will definitely return and next time try the tasting menu for $66 which I hear requires a very good appetite.

Rating: 7/10

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 11 September 2011

I love food

Hi Everyone

You know what, I love food!

I think about it all the time. I love to cook for friends and family and enjoy walking the supermarket aisles and markets.  Most satisfying to me is the joy of people sitting around my dinner table and saying that was a great dish, or better still, looking forward to the madness of the kitchen and eating first course at 10pm.

I live in Melbourne, seriously the best city in the world for eating and believe me I do get around.

I read a lot of food critiques but the emotion about and feeling of the restaurant, including how it is shared with others in the room, is often absent.

My friends and family often ask me for food recommendations so I thought I would start a blog - because I want others to feel as passionate as I do about the experience.

So I thought I would start a blog about my time at different restaurants - the full experience - yes it will be about the food, but also the people all around.

Be warned: I will tell you which meal to choose. I eat very fast because for me everything tastes better that way - I am known as sharkey. I will not dissect the food nor tell you all the techniques of cooking and exactly how all the ingredients are composed, but I will tell you if it is damned good or bad.

I do also travel a lot so I will throw in some travel experiences along the way.

I will also share my own personal cooking experiences and recipes.

I encourage you all to share, agree or disagree.

Adios Amigos