Saturday, 23 February 2013

Geppetto - Melbourne - 239-241 High Street, Kew

For those of you who were fans of Pinocchios in Toorak will be happy to hear that his woodmaker has arrived in Kew.

The first thing of note on entry, in fact even when you make the booking, is the loudness of the place. It must have something to do with the concrete floors and walls.  A great modern interior but do be prepared to shout as they do on the streets of Italy.

Maybe not a good first date place.

I was out with Mr Toorak (you may have met him previously at Cafe Late) and a couple of Kew locals.

Mr Toorak made mention of his love of the waiters' aprons and the wooden stands upon which the food was pleasantly placed (which he contemplated making but was soon reminded that he is not so handy and should just make a purchase).

Moving on. 

A very big menu which makes choosing difficult. One side of the menu has a whole lot of starters, small plates, pastas and mains and the other full of pizzas.

I enjoy not ordering and letting others choose - having said that, it really depends on who you are with and whether you think they have good taste. I was in safe hands this night but friends when I dominate the ordering, you now know why.

We started with deep fried pizza dough with a tomoto sauce. An awesome alternative to the regular bread roll which reminded me of a savoury donut.

Cod croquettes were next with a nice hint of caper berries. Better than Mr Bianco's down the road in my view.

The stuffed zuchinni was good but Mr Kew does think his mum's taste better - fair enough.

The arancini was super tasty and the risotto in the centre not overcooked.

For pastas we shared moreton bay bug agnolotti and pumpkin and truffle risotto. Once again cooked al dente and super tasty.

The mains of chicken (yes we ordered chicken) and the lamb shoulder were also very good.

We were stuffed so could only share a piece of lemon tart between four at the end.

Overall the food here is home style Italian cooking with lots of oomph. It is a good place to share with people you really like, as I did last night, and return again and again.

I am jealous of my Kew friends who have such good choice and it keeps on growing.

$80 per head including a bottle of good sangiovese and drinks to start.

Geppetto on Urbanspoon

Koko - Melbourne - Level 3 Crown Towers, Southbank

It has been a looooonng time since my last visit to Koko.

I remember a number of Tepenyaki business lunches and a few nice dinners by the pond in the middle of the room as well.

This night was more of a flashy dinner than what I am ordinarily accustomed to these days. I am not usually a fan of Crown but overlooking the Yarra and having a perfect view of the the city was actually quite lovely.

The service is super slick as you would expect of a good Japanese restaurant.

I had the challenge of having been out to Ocha the night before, so naturally there would be some comparison.

We started with oysters which were creamy and well flavoured.

Next was beef tataki. Koko's was more traditional but I prefer the modern flavours and freshness of Ocha's.

For mains we tried the wagyu beef and the duck along with rice. The rice was a bit overcooked but the beef was perfectly medium rare and the duck was quite good.

We opted to skip a drink with the tourists at the casino after dinner and headed to Black Pearl in Fitzroy for a cocktail instead - a wise decision.

Koko did not wow me overall but I enjoyed the experience.

Koko on Urbanspoon

Ocha - Melbourne - 3 Church Street, Hawthorn

I have been a fan of Ocha for years. I still remember my first time with the family and our neighbours in its homeland of Kew.

The food was special, the service quirky and warm, the atmosphere was kooky and the patrons (often regulars who would book the whole year out as it is hard to get in) knew they were coming to something special. Plus it was BYO.

Now, it is a little more posh in its newer home of Hawthorn my friends and with that poshness I find the quirky and unusual is now lost.

Having said that, Ocha still has some of the better modern Japanese around town and a healthy wine list (albeit no longer BYO).

My sister and I were out for a girls night with a few cousins who all have kids and, quite frankly, just needed a good night out.

And it was.

The biggest issue is trying to choose from the menu as there are a lot of options and a lot of great looking specials. We decided to be guided by the waitress.

The scallops with an awesome light delicate sauce were sensational as was the gyoza.

The prawn dumplings with green powder and the beef tataki were great as was the must have fried calamari with rocket.

The sushi and sashimi here is impeccable. And the fish, which we had 2 ways (i) fried swordfish; and (ii) miso cod, was super fresh and cooked to perfection.

The best suprise though is the desserts. I say this because I hate green tea ice cream and sesame paste pancakes.  Ocha serves crepes with some Japanese difference, plum sake jelly with fruit, passionfruit mousse and the list just goes on.  The perfect cross between East and West.

My cousins were particularly impressed with the service - things just get done and things just happen.

Look, this place for me has lost a bit of magic but it still does deliver great food.

Around $90 per head.


Ocha on Urbanspoon

Arinjti - Melbourne - Shop 122a Federation Square, Swanston Street, Melbourne

Keen for a quick meal before heading to the theatre on a Friday night, we tried Arinjti at Federation Square.

The fact that we could get a table pronto was quite telling.

Telling of the fact that my steak was medium when I asked for medium rare.

Telling of the fact that the rocket salad was over-dressed.

And telling of the fact that the red wine was too warm.

Enough said.

 Arintji on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Stalactites - Melbourne - 183 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

A stressful week at work, too many wines drunk too quickly and Stalactites was the only clear option to reward ourselves for all the hard work.

This place is like a night club, a line to queue, bouncers to say hello to and lots of dark clothing all around.

The dips and saganaki are ok, souvlaki moist, cabbage stuffed with meat and rice not bad and chips wre the best (now is that the wine or tastebuds talking)?


Stalactites on Urbanspoon