Monday, 24 December 2012

Dragon Boat - Melbourne - 203 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

If you are not fussed about service and want some good quick and easy take away or eat in Yum Cha, then this is the place.

You just rock up at the counter order shu mai, scallop with prawn, glutinous dumplings and whatever else comes in a bamboo stream basket, put them on a black tray and eat them.

All good and cheap.

Dragon Boat on Urbanspoon



Alpha Ouzeri - Melbourne - 342 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

This place beats the shi*t out of Hellenic Republic - hands down below zero.

I am very appreciative of George Colambaris' contribution to the development of the food culture beyond the inner city rim of Melbourne but, I don't like people thinking that Hellenic Republic is the best Greek food in Melbourne, cos it ain't.

We went to Alpha Ouzeri for a little Christmas Eve dinner - every Greek man and his wife with her santa hat and his dog and his daughter dressed in an elf suit (with an embroidered black and silver belt) was in da house.

Maybe not as good as my grandma's cooking but the chef pulled out some of my all-time favourites.

Simple grilled calamari not overcooked and perfectly salted.

Shiftalias - pork and lamb meatballs wrapped in lamb intenstines and barbequed. Sounds gross but you will love it, especially with a few drops of lemon.

Yemista - tomato and capsicum filled with rice in sauce. I was a bit freaked out that these ones had no minced lamb but they actually pulled the vegetarian ones off very well.

Chicken souvlaki with lemon potatoes - usually dry at most places but this chicken was succulent. The lemon potatoes were a gem.

We then ordered some dips which were quite good although the tarama was not the best.

Finally for dessert we tried the loukmades - greek donut with honey and walnut. Just like the old aunties used to make.

And the service was warm and friendly and jovial for a pre-Christmas affair.

$40 each including a glass of good wine.
Alpha Ouzeri on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Meatball & Wine Bar - Melbourne - 135 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

There are some very clever people in Melbourne. Japanese sake bars, huxtaburgers and now meatballs.

We began with much discussion around meatballs - pork, beef, fish. There was so much ball talk that we could have felt slightly uncomfortable. Thank goodness we know each other so well and have every conversation and argument under the sun that no subject matter can offend.

The service, on the other hand, was a bit uncomfortable and did slightly offend. We were a group of 7, not quite appreciating that we needed to book. Rules are no bookings generally, unless you have a group of 6 or more where you must book. Give me a break. We are here to eat and pay money and felt reprimanded for not making a booking. We were instructed to order the set menu - a choice of a $45 or $55 and they couldn't quite work out what to do with a child on the table. Don't take life so seriously wankers.

Aside from that, the experience was good. The prickliness in the service was somewhat masked by the warmth of the bar and the walls and the bottles of wine all around.

We ordered the $45 menu which was extremely generous, with a few carafes of wine.

Starting with a slider of a pork and fennel meatball with green sauce. A slider is the newest fad - to me it is just a mini hamburger and yes, maybe it slides easy into the mouth cos you can eat it in one mouthful, but why not just call it a miniburger. Very tasty though and a great sweet but not too sweet bun.

My friend, the Silver Fox, quite rightly commented that a slider is one of those things where they give a name to a smaller version of a normal thing. It is slightly cheaper than the normal thing but you end up paying more per bite. But that is ok cos everyone wins. The customer wins cos they get to try more and the restaurant wins cos they earn more profits. 

There was a vegetarian slider with mushroom. The part-time vegetarian said that to be honest she wolfed it down so fast that she is not sure how great it was but seemed to recall that the dripping green stuff was very tasty.

This was followed by discussion as to whether saying that you wolf something down is bogan or not.  The part-time vegetarian quiffed back "well if I said that I f?ckin shoved it down my gob now that would be bogan." Amen.

Next course was a mixture of different balls with different sauces. They were all quite fun. Sides included a tomato heirloom salad with real heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella, fennel and orange walnut salad and steamed broccoli. A lot of food cooked well.

We finished with a dessert of macaroons filled with big balls of ice cream - a simple and tasty ending to the evening.

The part-time vegetarian was not happy with the toilet situation, not being able to distinguish between the men's and women's.

It is all in the colour of the balls my friends.



Meatball & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Circa, The Prince - Melbourne - 2 Acland Street, St Kilda

Circa, The Price has had a number of lives and this time he is Asian.

The cuisine is upmarket hawker style food.

There is a lot of choice on the menu and honestly the waiter was a bit hopeless in helping us make our selection. "This is good, that's good, that's good in fact all of it's good."


We tried pretty much all the starters including wagyu tacos, soft shell crab with kimchi, pork buns and trout tartare.  All of it was good - the waiter was right.

Our mains of hainese chicken, szechuan fish and noodles were also good but we couldn't help but wonder:

Where is the originality in these dishes? With so many fancy pork buns, homemade noodles and crab rolls around town at the likes of Golden Fields, when do we draw the line and say "hey, I can get this for $8 in Chinatown, why should I be paying $40 for this dish?"

The desserts were good but those who ordered the pavlova were actually after pavlava and not a deconstructed pavlova that resembled pannacotta. "They should say that it is deconstructed and not expect that a few chards of meringue will do" one of them commented.

The salted caramal dessert was nice but the pineapple all around was just wrong.

As for the service, one of my friends said it was "profoundly empty." And I added "emptiness in the service like the patrons."  A bit discriminatory but this place is full of women with their hair done for the day and perfectly manicured in nails and in chest.

In summary, a big place with vacuous people eating street food to feel cultured.

But no lack of depth when it comes to your pockets - $135 per head for lunch with a few bottles of wine amongst 7 people.

Better if you have not been to Asia just before paying a visit to the Prince.

Circa, the Prince on Urbanspoon

Trunk - Melbourne - 275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

The size of the menu scared me a bit initially.

I had first been to Trunk when the menu was small and the food was quite good.

But now they have sorted out their target market - a place for drinks after work in the outdoors with not so expensive food but priced well enough to make a good profit.

This menu has mezedes, pizzas, pastas and every meat under the sun.

I ordered the fried whiting on a bed of cous cous with raisins and pine nuts. It really was surprisingly very good. I could have done with a bit more fish for $34 but it was cooked well and fresh.

The tomoto based gnocchi was well liked as was the veal schitznel with coleslaw.

The one who ordered the soft shell crab looked at is and said "ok, I've won".

Ordering food can be a competition and it is nice to see that someone is so open about it. We all pretend to be happy for others when they order well and we don't and sometimes we even cover up and say that ours is better than it really is. Food envy can make or break the mood on the dinner table.

Tonight it was all out in the open. My cabraese salad was honestly average.  My friend's beetroot salad was good but she honestly agreed that it would have been better if the beetroot was fresh and not canned.

And for the girl who won, I honestly thought her soft shell crab was just ok, I win!

Mains between $22-$35.

Trunk on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 8 December 2012

City Wine Shop - Melbourne, 159 Spring Street, Melbourne

The City Wine Shop has your favourite Italian fare and is one the best places for a vino and good meal in Melbourne - hands down below zero.

The food is simple but cooked very well.

The chicken schnitzel with coleslaw is magnificent.  Juicy, not overcooked, crumbed well and the salad crisp and fresh.

The risotto with moreton bay bugs is the best in town. Not too rich and the rice cooked to perfection.

The veal scallopine with mozzarella and basil - once again - nailed it.

$35 dollars each with a glass of wine.
City Wine Shop on Urbanspoon

Enough said. Just go and you won't be disappointed.

PS: Also good for a first date drink and then if things go well you can progress to a not so over the top dinner. If not so well, at least you have had a good glass of wine and the opportunity to look around and suss out your next potential date.


Rockpool Bar & Grill - Melbourne, Crown Casino 8, Whiteman Street, Southbank

You know that when your favourite dish is the salad, there is something clearly wrong.

You also know that you are amongst the luckier-in-life when conversation centres on how marbling of meat is over-rated, how a touch of crazy water is always good with fish and how serron jamon is second rate to jamon iberico.

This was a social work do of sorts and I was fortunate enough to sit next to my pal Mr Lunchalot.  He has conquered all the cheap Asian restaurants in Chinatown and would never eat a sandwich or salad for lunch in his life.

Mr Lunchalot is liked by women cos he is out of the closet with his love of Sex and City, unlike most men, and just makes great conversation.

Are shark skin grey suits with black shirts and a black tie really appropriate? Mr Lunchalot said there is absolutely a time and a place for that. Others were actually not so sure.

And do you like the New York white collar with coloured or striped shirts? Quite appropriate thought some and Mr Lunchalot went a bit futher and said he was also supportive of braces.

Mr Lunchalot also thinks he is too old for jeans but not for cinos.

There was lots of conversation about favourite movies with Mr Lunchalot asking "so what is your favourite Christmas movie this time of the year." Others went blank but he said without a tither of doubt "Miracle on 34th street is mine." 

It is great to be around people with no shame.

Ok, back to the food. The entree of prawns were fresh and cooked well.  But as someone said, "they really are only grilled prawns at the end of the day." I can do this for $3.

More interesting is how people eat prawns. The world is divided into those who eat like wogs and those who do not, like the world is divided between quail eaters and those who are not.

The wog will suck all the flesh out, eating the legs and most of the shell and finishes off by sucking the juices from the head. The rest eat prawns with a knife and fork and leave quality meat behind which is ok by me cos I can finish it off for them.

My crudo of fish for entree was fresh but did not blow my mind. Crudo means raw, just in case you are wondering - Mr Lunchalot did ask how this particular dish was constructed.

Some ordered mussels and others ordered fish for main but really Rockpool is meant to be all about the meat.

I say meant to be cos it ain't. It is actually pretty ordinary for around $80 a pop - gristly, fatty and no depth in flavour.

The potato and cabbage gratin on the side was too rich and the steamed vegies needed some olive oil and salt.

Desserts were ok but not outstanding. The pavlova was ten feet high with 50% air but rather lacklustre and the cheese platter was just ok.

This experience has cemented by view that all Crown Casino restaurants are over-rated, over-priced and that the same goes Neil Perry - full stop

For me it is really all about the salad folks and for around $200 per head , I am not sure if it is work it.


Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon> Adles