Sunday, 27 November 2011

Izakaya Den - Melbourne - 114 Russell St (Basement), Melbourne

Can't tell you how many times I have been to this Japanese sake bar kind-a-place. After a night out watching a play, some dance, a movie, drinking or whatever excuse you can find.

Confusing to find, underground, dark, curtain entrance and near a clothes store - go figure.

There are no bookings, there are queues but after a couple of quirky cocktails, time does pass by.

Dinner is a full menu with shared dishes. You can order anything and it will be tasty and different to your usual Japanese fare. Tuna tataki, quail, corn or simply grilled barramundi. Sparks will fly!

Usually pay around $45-$50 for food and drink.

Please also make your way through the sake menu.

Lunch is a set menu affair.  $18 or $28.  It starts with tofu which I normally hate but I can eat this one.  Then some raw fish - generally excellent although the kingfish I had last time was a tad tough. Then followed by a main of your choice - wagyu, barramundi - along with some pickled vegies.

It is all good my friends and the service is excellent.

Love it, love it, love it. You must go for dinner.

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Birdman Eating - Melbourne - 238 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

I had a couple of hours to spare so I popped into Birdman Eating for brunch.

I have eaten lunch here before and the shared plates were surprisingly innovative. The place has a quirkiness like its name with some unusual flavours mixed with fresh produce. Say, sous vide octopus with watermelon salad.

This time I kept it simple and had baked eggs with ham, cheese and tomato. It looked impressive in its little cast iron dish but was unfortunately saturated with the taste of ham - pull back on the ham chefs.

This place is featured as a cheap eat in books but I wouldn't call it cheap. A number of small plates at $18 a pop does tally up if you as much as I do.


Previously I would have given this place a 7/10 but consistency brings it down. I will be back for more lunches and maybe dinner.

 Birdman Eating on Urbanspoon


Universal - Sydney - Republic 2 Courtyard Palmer Street, Darlinghurst

The one sad thing about my recent change in job is that I don't get to travel to Sydney as much. I generally say that I prefer Melbourne restaurants as Sydney is too big, flashy, expensive and lacks depth.

But Universal is a clear exception. Other exceptions are Sushi e and Buzo.

I like the idea of a restaurant that is kind of half inside and half courtyard - particularly on a warm balmy night; but the half inside bit is terrible. Facing inside, I was blinded by a garish orange wall, black floors and felt like I was at the Chevron night club.

This is redeemed however by the sensational food.  We had most dishes on the menu and, while small, everything was a taste sensation. I was like "oh my god", "oh my god", "oh my god" - heaven and back.

It is Asian fusion but many steps ahead of the likes of Ezard and Gingerboy. Christine Manfield is a genius with flavours - the menu changes with the seasons.

The service is slow and now and again you have to wave your arm for a waiter.  The wait between meals is too long, and for small meals the hunger just builds.

But this is also redeemed by the decadent desserts. I ate a take on the cappuccino gaytime.

I didn't see the bill cos I didn't pay - sorry, and never have when I have been here - sorry again. But let's assume that it is not cheap but money well spent.

8.5/10. Marks deducted for the long waits and the atmosphere (for half the restaurant).

Universal on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Friends of Mine - Melbourne, 506 Swan Street, Richmond

This is the action in what is ordinarily a dead part of Swan Street.

There is a queue to get into this place with good reason - this place does great things with egg and with cheese.

Despite the vast menu, I can't get away from the eggs here - poached with buttered thyme mushrooms, goats cheese and basil on the best bread ever. I actually would have loved it more if the mushrooms were on the side so the centre of the bread did not sog up a bit, but I still wolfed it down.

The cheese and basil omelette was fluffy and the pumpkin piadini was crispy and exploded with taste plus on the first bite.

There are meals here to suit all tastes, even thai inspired prawn soup - which unfortunately had a dead fly in it but the waiter thankfully took it off the bill. I will still come back, mistakes happen.

The pork belly with chat potatoes, smashed peas and broccolini was also very well cooked.

The staff are casual, the clientele relaxed, the coffee awesome and the Sunday morning pick-me-up gin and tonic with a touch of campari and cucumber refreshing.

The best dish of the day was ordered by the two 3 year olds on our table - cheese toasties with ham - good o.

Not expensive, around $25 per head.

Friends of Mine on Urbanspoon

Coda - Melbourne - 141 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

The first thing I have to say is that I really loved the wine - I don't know what we had as I did not order but it was excellent, very leglessellent actually.

Good to finally be writing up about this place. Have been here heaps of time.  For the food - yes, but also because I have a secret crush on Adam D'Sylva - well not that secret as my friends know that we must always get a bar seat with a clear kitchen view.

I understand that this meant to be a Viet-French fusion. In hindsight I guess it is but it does compare to the Real McCoy in places like Dalat, Vietnam.

I always eat from the left side of the menu, the shared tasty stuff rather than the mains.  This time I was taken out for a work celebration and we had a set menu with a mixture of both sides of the menu.

The winner is always "That's Amore Buffalo mozzarella, zucchini fritters, mint and pea salad".  This is a sensational dish that was a later but now regular feature on the menu.  Also great were the San Daniele prosciutto with a truffle-like taste and the Freemantle octopus, green papaya and kaffir lime salad.

Actually all of the small tasting plates were very good.  I am not however the biggest fan of the quail lettuce delight - I find the quail taste is lost with the sauce - but others say that it is the best on the menu.  I guess it is a menu which caters for different tastes.

The mains from the right side of the menu were quite good but not brilliant; the duck curry was too salty.

I still stick to my view that the left side is better than the right.

I find that the desserts here are getting better and better. The mango pannacotta, coconut caramel and crispy rice was a hit.  I usually hate Asian desserts but this place is now executing them well.

Cost for the set menu was $100 which for the amount, quality of produce and flavours is quite good.

I will keep coming back here, for the food and the view.


Coda on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sukhothai - Melbourne - 490 High Street, Northcote

I felt a bit lonely Monday night before Cup Day.  I felt like the only person wanting a great meal before a public holiday. Obviously other people had other things on their mind like races and being fashionable on the field. Nothing was open.

My friend thought she heard Sukhothai in Northcote was good. To be honest, I think she heard wrong. But it was the only local place open so we ventured out.

The menu looked quite good. The specials were quite artfully explained - barramundi with young ginger, soy and shallots and beef massaman cooked for hours in a mutlitide of amazing spices.

The fish was overflavoured, the meat did not melt in my mouth and the chicken curry was made with chicken breast.

Overall an OK meal at around $45 per head, including a glass of wine each. But maybe a good place for takeaway.

Sukhothai Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Postal Hall - Melbourne - 116 Russell Street, Melbourne

A great place for sandwiches, salads, coffee, sweets and to purve at cute men in suits. I have decided that the good lookers of Melbourne love a good coffee.

I tend to always have the same thing when I come here. The rice and tuna salad with capers, olives, lemon zest and a squidch of lemon juice - tasty and nutritious.

Now and again I may venture into a toasted chicken panini - excellent. Everything here is so well done. A great space with small tables, small chairs and a bit of al fresco action on Russell Street.

Hands down below zero it has the best maitre'de in town. He is a hilarious and personal and binds this place together.


Postal Hall on Urbanspoon