Sunday, 26 August 2012

Osteria La Passione - Melbourne - 486 Bridge Road, Richmond

I was excited all week about Osteria La Passione finally coming down my chimney.

This restaurant is unpretentious and like a casual deli with random bottles and lamps and bits and pieces all around and a few tables for eating.

The service is excellent and very Italian - childish to say but true.

As soon as we walked in, a piece of spinach (grown on the owner's farm) fritatta was served with a splash of flavoursome olive oil.  This is a place where you don't order, the chef decides what you will eat. Similar to Da Noi for avid fans of that place.

Next was a lovely octopus, potato, celery and green olive salad - superb.

Next was the best pumpkin soup I have ever had with a touch of parmesan, delicate as ever and nice with the salted bread fried in pork fat. I think pumpkin soup is over-rated but not this one.

Tripe was next in a tomato sauce.  Personally, I am not a fan of tripe. Others ate it but would not usually order it. As my friend said, "it did ruin a good tomato sauce". But at the same time, great that this place is brave enough to serve it.

A lovely in-betweener was a plate of cured meats all home made - exceptional.

The pasta was orechiette which was simply and expertly cooked with broccoli, chilli and good olive oil.

The meat was lamb shoulder cooked in chocolate hops from Mildura serviced on barley with Tuscan kale - fanfriggintastic.

Even the tira misu which I don't normally eat was great. My friend put it simply "when someone gives me something that I wouldn't like and I like it, I think it speaks volumes."

The cheese platter was also one of the best I have had for a while accompanied with honey walnuts, pears and caramelised orange onions.  Even the bread had a special smokiness to it.

The wine was excellent, as was the prosecco (normally a "but rough" but this one was smooth), the grappa, the limoncella and the dessert wine - you can tell what kind of night this became.

The company was also great, a lot of discussion around planners versus those who like spontaneity, there was a real mix on the table.  The planners this time though were happy with the surprises during the night.

My friend summed the current flavour of the restaurant scene very well "I get the whole fresh ingredient thing but you can't build a dish around a single ingredient that was grown on your farm. Like a pig on a spit, that is a wank, there has to be skill in the cooking.

Osteria La Passione is built on a few fresh ingredients cooked very very well. Let's hope it is consistent.

The set menu is $75 but be warned when they ask if you want extra dishes like cured meats and cheese, they are not part of the price. The cheese platter was $15 each.

Total cost including a lot of alcohol was $160 per person.

I'll be back.

Osteria la Passione on Urbanspoon

Wesley Anne - Melbourne - 250 High Street, Northcote

I had never thought of the Wesley Anne as a place to eat. It has great music and is kinda hip, kinda alternative and the kinda place you want to be every Friday night.

In between bottles of red wine, we started with a rustic plate of pickled vegies with a fantastic carrot and almond dip and great bread.

For mains we shared a crispy-skinned barramundi with mint, zucchini, king size cous cous and a mild butteriness to it. The fish was super fresh and perfectly cook.

We also tried the porcini pasta with truffle which was al dente and moorish.

The risotto was a bit bland but the duck and rosemary sausages with mashed potato was great.

I don't know why I am surprised but the chef here pulled out a few winners.

The candlelit atmosphere inside and the outdoor area outside are the best.

Wesley Anne on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop - Melbourne - 234 Russell Street, Melbourne

If you want something kind of healthy for lunch around near Chinatown then head to this squeezy little Vietnamese joint.

There are a lot of Vietnames places like this dotted around the CBD but for me this is one of the better ones. The Vietnamese mint is fresh and the bean shoots are crisp. I have tried many a pho here but I do tend to like the chicken the best - the broth is tasty and the chicken is never gristly.

This place is always full and you really can't go wrong.


Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam - 241 Swanston Street, Melbourne

After a quick meal that is cheap, reliable and reasonably tasty? Then Mekong Vietnam is the place.

It is full of all sorts - Uni students, blue collar workers, suits  - anything goes.

I usually have chicken pho which rarely fails.  Last time I ate prawn rice paper rolls to be a bit healthier as I had a wedding to attend shortly thereafter - not the best around town but good enough with a bit of fish sauce.

All meals are around $10.


Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Pei Modern - Melbourne - 45 Collins Street, Melbourne

The service hits with you being immediately good at Pei Modern.

Everything is explained well.

The knives are 9.4 cm long made by someone who is supposed to be famous and you have to hold onto them all night every course.  It is a restaurant knife says the waiter - well ok - I thought every knife in a restaurant was a restaurant knife - but good o.

The bread is house made and the butter is house churned.  I asked if the sea salt was made on the premises but that joke fell flat except for one friend.

Ordering wine was a challenge. My friend asked what was good in light wines and the waiter offered a Farside Geelong from Bannockburn. I was happy with that but my friend asked him to detail why.

If you ask a waiter for advice, then don't challenge him, I said.

Nonetheless we were glad my friend loved the wine.

We shared entrees and all were so different and very good.

Lamb sweetbreads and carrots was sensational. As were the grilled octopus with artichoke, the pork terrine and a potato special with bone marrow.

The mains were all good.

I had roast rabbit, saltbush, wakame and mildura jerusalem artichokes - excellent but not big enough.

One friend ate the small chicken with grapes - my friend was not sure on the grapes but I thought they were excellent.

Another ate the duck which was ok but a bit too rich particularly with the boudin noir (which we found out was blood sausage or something like that).

The final main was john dory - very fresh.

Unfortunately the salad was limp but they took that off the bill.

I loved by dessert of sorrel sorbet but others found it a bit weird.  Another friend attempted the caramelised tomato stuffed with 12 flavours and star anise ice cream. This was not pulled off that well. Desserts could be re-evaluated here.

This is a place full of interesting flavours.

Not sure of the overall bill as I did not pay but entrees average around $17, mains around $35 and desserts around $15.

Pei Modern on Urbanspoon

Gold Leaf - Melbourne - 155 Burwood Highway, Burwood East

Gold Leaf is a large Chinese restaurant in the burbs with the usual fare and no shortage of customers.

We started with mud crab noodles.  The flavours were good but the crab was a bit stringy.

The wasabi prawns where excellent.  Very fresh and crunchy on the outside with just enough wasabi to balance the flavour of the prawn.

The eye fillet with chilli sauce was well cooked although a bit over-sauced.

Surprisingly, the fried rice had a nice smokiness to it from the bacon.

But for me the night was more about the conversation than the food.

A friend was about to embark on a weekend date with a man she had not yet met, who lives interstate and who drives a lamborghini. You know where that weekend is heading.

I learnt a thing or two - when you've had black you never go back.  Once you've had white you know it's not right - there you go.

Good service too.

$150 for three people. We brought our own wine.

Gold Leaf on Urbanspoon



Sunday, 5 August 2012

Number 8 - Melbourne - 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

My friend missed the al fresco phenomenon during the 90s and really wanted to sit outside and watch the fire up the towers at Crown casino - so we did it at Number 8.

Even though it is the middle of winter, it was warm enough.

The menu looks impressive and the food is expensive. $24 for entrees, $46 plus for mains and $20 for desserts.

But the food not so impressive.

We started with a shared platter of entrees which were ok but not great.  The calamari had lemon which tasted a bit artificial.

The whiting was fresh and well cooked but had no salt and was resting on some a black smudge of weirdness.

The barramundi was in a bed of heavily buttered sauce.

The desserts were not refined, the chocolate fondant was grainy and the pear with caramel sauce was too sweet.

The verdict - nothing special and over-priced.

The bigger verdict - full of cashed-up bogans.

Would not come back, but am planning to revive the al fresco way of life.

Number 8 Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon



Red Pepper - Melbourne - 14 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Desperate for a tasty meal after drinks on Friday night, we ended up with some cheap Indian.

There are two places side-by-side. Green pepper a bit more upmarket and red pepper a bit more downmarket.

The menu is full of all the traditional meals - butter chicken, lamb roganjosh, chicken tikka.

For $20 it was quite good value but there could have been a bit more than 3 pieces of meat per dish to be seriously good value.

Red Pepper on Urbanspoon

Ishiya Stome Grill - Melbourne - 152 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

My friend twisted my arm to neglect my home made salad for lunch and treat ourselves to Japanese.

I have just realised there are loads of little Japanese restaurants around Lonsdale and Little Bourke Street. I am now going to trawl them all,

We each had a lunch set for $21.90 - good value.

It starts with a plate of sushi, sashimi, tempura and cucumber salad.

Then a main. I had miso fish which was fresh but a bit too rich. My friend ate chicken which tasted good but was a tad grizzly.

Ishiya Stone Grill on Urbanspoon

The Bridge - Melbourne - 642 Bridge Road, Burnley

This is a "it wasn't as good as last time" place.

My cousin has been here before and she was a tad anxious about how good it would be and simply "it wasn't as good as last time" - "dead set wasn't".

The chips were ok but weren't terrible. The steak sandwich was a bit soggy and the bacon was a bit undercooked. The chicken burger was good

Service is quite good.

6/10 (5.5/10 normally but I am banking on it being better next time)

Bridge Hotel on Urbanspoon


Mamasita - Melbourne - Level 1, 11 Collins Street, Melbourne

I was visiting Mamasita from the first day of birth.

And she continues to produce quality but she has now become a bit of a princess and you have to plead and queue to pay a visit.

Even though there are a number of little Mexicano offsprings popping up around town, queen bee Mamasita is still the best.

She makes really good tequila based cocktails.

Her variety of tostaditas with slow braised pork shoulder or crab meat with tamarind are super flavoursome.

She does some mean sweetcorn with black beans and queso fresco.

And her tacos are really the best ever. We chose the grilled fish, lime, achiote paste. red onion salsa and choipolte mayo - deeeeeelicious.

Whilst she serves her ceviche very fresh and punchy with flavour she could add some depth.

And her enchilada with goats cheese and some green sauce was crispy but a bit too rich.

She employs some great worker bees and the fact that her hive is busy and buzzing any night of the week gives a 24-hour city feel to Melbourne.


Mamasita on Urbanspoon


Carlton Wine Room - Melbourne - 172-174 Faraday Street, Calrton

I have finally found a new love.

Move over Mr Bianco, Mr Carlton Wine Room is now filling my plate.

The patrons here are largely middle-aged - oh my god am I now middle-aged?

The atmosphere is dark and moody and wooden and made for drinking a lot of red wine.

We shared everything, mains included, starting with the antipasto board.  Not your average salami and cheese fair.  This one had crispy pork on lentils, artichoke with mozzarella and calamari with rocket and chilli and many other hidden ingredients.

Oh my god, the beef tartare with jerusalem artichoke, cured egg and white truffle was divine. And the seared tiger prawns with fennel salad was just as good.

The chilli soft-shell crab with aoili was magnificent and the ham hock terrime with mustard fruit crisp bread and pistachio was the best I have ever had.

This man certainly does please.

For mains we shared hapuka with clams and black funghi in a mushroom consomme which was so delicate and refined it was ridiculous. The braised beef cheek was good but did not knock my socks off. The confit pork neck & ear with sweet potato, fennel and mustard seeds was sensational.

We shared all the desserts and they were indescribably interesting and excellent.

The wine list is excellent.  We drank the Fattoria Colsanto Rosso di Montelfaci with 75% Sangiovese at $70 per bottle.

Service was outstanding, friendly and able to handle an honest and mildly abrasive crowd.

Cost was $100 per head.

Can you tell I love it!

9.5/10 (half a point off for the not so exciting beef cheek)

the Carlton Wine Room on Urbanspoon


De Clieu - Melbourne - 187 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

De Clieu receives rave reviews as a great place for brunch.

The decor is cool, the patrons sitting on the outdoor window seals are cool and our waiter who did not even need to try was just born to be cool.

The menu also looks progressive.  Heirloom tomatoes with avocado on quinoa toast. But you can't fool me Dr De Clieu, the tomatoes were not that heirloom. Cherry tomatoes was a bit cheeky as a substitute at a time when they are not in season. Perhaps it was also a bit silly of me to order this dish in winter. But even still the basil was a bit manky and there was not enough olive oil and salt to season.

My friend had poached eggs with smoked salmon which were overcooked and also lacked seasoning. She called it a crock of shit pot.

Cost was $50 for 2 including a few good coffees.

I feel this is a place that masks the lack of attention to detail with coolness.

Not good enough.


De Clieu on Urbanspoon