Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lunch @ The Press Club

It was one of those Sundays, you know the one - where it's been a hard week and you need to go out and do something nice so you can face the coming Monday and all those fires you have to put out.

As luck would have it as Paalo was looking for places to go, he discovered that The Press Club was now open for lunch, for something they call, Masa, a Greek yum cha as they describe it.

A phone call later and we were set to go!

There are basically three options, Alpha, Beta and Gamma which are 8,10 or 12 items respectively and it's left to the kitchen to decide what dishes you end up with.

As we need fortifying, we opt for the Gamma option.


Pretty much every table gets a version of this Mezedes board - we have, going clockwise from top left, mixed olives, stuffed vine leaves drizzled with Greek honey, cucumber Tzatziki, warm toasted pita bread for dipping, pickled cabbage and goat feta.

The Greek honey was some of the best honey we've tasted.

As we were happily nibbling on this another dish was presented


Avgolemono, the famous Greek egg and lemon soup, this was made with quite an intense chicken stock.

Next up another mixed platter

prawns and garfish

Sautéed Garfish fillets and deep-fried soft shell bay prawns with aioli. The prawns must rate as the best prawns we've ever had - eaten whole, wonderfully crisp and the prawn meat delectably sweet.

*Major rant alert*
I must say that the saddest sight was seeing diners either PEELING the prawns or chopping the heads off. I just couldn't believe it - a total and absolute waste. I would have been weeping if I was in the kitchen and saw those bowls of prawn shells and/or heads coming back.

tomato salad

Served alongside the garfish and prawns was a rice stuffed tomato and the most excellent Greek Salad.

Our final savoury course was the rotisserie chicken with pistachio crust served alongside lemon roasted potato and skordalia.


Sweet time is next


Scrumptious Greek Donuts with honey and




a good scoop of ice-cream on crunchy crumbs sit between the two.

I can certainly see the Sunday Masa being a success - it's a great casual atmosphere and you can linger over the dishes, there's no rush. Backgammon boards are available should you be so inclined. There were quite a few large tables and this really is the perfect type of food for them.

Price wise, you can't complain, the Gamma menu is just $50 a head.

The details:
The Press Club Restaurant and Bar
72 Flinders Street
Phone: 03 9677 9677

Lunch: Monday - Friday and Sunday
Dinner: Monday - Sunday


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dinner @ Fenix

What better way to commenorate ANZAC day then to go out for dinner at Fenix.

As usual, we start the evening with Champagne Ruinart


White bean soup with seared scallop - at the bottom of the bowl lays a mix of sautéed onion and jamon and whole white beans.

A stunning way to start the meal - a dish I wished would never end. The soup wonderfully creamy by itself but digging to the bottom of the bowl you are treated to the flavoursome mix of sautéed onion and jamon. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. The piece de resistance was the perfectly cooked scallop, just seared on the outside, it was sweet and substantial.


If our last dish was a bit Mediterranean then this is surely a bit Japanese. A mix of mushrooms including shiitake and enoki along with radish and smoked eel in a clear broth. A lovely dish of pure flavours.

digging in


You might remember this dish from my birthday lunch - squid ink sheets, calamari and john dory.


Dehydrated Vegetables: bone marrow, red radish, beetroot soil

Marrow and assorted dehydrated vegetables - there's such an intensity of flavour in those dehydrated vegetables.


Veal fillet topped with marrow and served with mixed mushrooms - a generous portion of wonderfully pink veal fillet, the marrow almost oozing as it sits atop.


Fenix Crème Brulee 2007


Tahitian Vanilla Mousse: sorbet of cucumber, tropical flavours

The details:

Fenix can be found at
680 Victoria Street Richmond
(03) 9427 8500

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lunch @ The Undertaker

It may have only been a few weeks since we ate here but a new menu awaits. We end up ordering a starter to share from the Bar menu and our mains from the cafe menu.

Three dips with toasted bread - a choice of mushroom, spinach and fetta and eggplant dips.

wild boar
Wild Boar cooked in red wine and vegetables and served over soft polenta.

After not seeing wild boar on any menu we now see it twice in the matter of a month. The boar is quite a dense meat and seems very low in fat but the long slow cooking ensures a tender product. Paalo thoroughly enjoyed this dish, the polenta providing an excellent vehicle to enjoy those braising juices.

Boned Quail served with a mushroom and goat cheese roulade.

Obviously my choice as I find it almost impossible to not order quail. This is an entree and quite a generous size. The quail was well flavoured, the skin lovely and crispy - the roulade is cold but is packed with flavour.

Roasted Potatoes with garlic and rosemary

Fragrant and wonderfully crisp - you couldn't really prepare this dish any better than this.

Paalo took the time to have a good look at the wine list - it's actually quite an interesting list with many unusual wines on offer. It's also refreshing to see that the wines offered by the glass are also not those mainstream standards. All the wines available by the bottle are over $35 bar two that were around $32.

The details:

The Undertaker
329 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
(03) 9818 3944

Open - Ground
Monday - Thursday: 7.30am - 10pm
Friday: 7.30am - 11pm
Saturday: Noon - 11pm
Sunday: Noon - 9pm

Open - Level One
Tuesday - Friday: 5pm - late
Saturday: 6pm - late


Monday, April 16, 2007

That's Gold

The Age 16/4/2007

TASTE buds are such individual little creatures, so when those of Vue de Monde diner Jeffrey Kelson went home sad and unfulfilled, he fired off a complaint to wunderkid chef Shannon Bennett.

Here's a sample of the 1300-word tirade: "The A3 white plates on the table were almost empty, but for thimblefuls of something unrecognisable. I was reminded of a Mondrian, Arp or a Miro, hugely creative minimalist art … but minimalist food? A Zen Buddhist would have appreciated the creativity and possibly thanked them for this minimalist approach. We paid our bill and went for a hamburger."

Bennett returned fire with his blow torch: "Had you been able to construct a succinct critical email following your dinner with us, I would actually be concerned that you did not enjoy your evening with us."

Diary: Poor Jeffrey thought it was succinct at 1305 words, to be exact, and even researched his thesis to compare his experience with the restaurant's reviews.

Shannon kept stirring: "The biggest positive I draw from your email is that I am sure you will never walk through the restaurant doors again and will choose to eat a hamburger instead … for that I am truly thankful."

And that, sir, is yours to digest.

Paalo question follows: I wonder why he didn't just say "yuk"?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lunch @ Fenix

The trouble with having your birthday fall on either Sunday or Monday is that a lot of restaurants are closed or don't open for dinner. Usually for my birthday, it's just Paalo and I that go out but for a change and in light of it being Sunday, we are joined by my sister Elle and partner Al for a leisurely lunch at Fenix.

The first surprise for me comes at that restaurant when we're ushered to the Chef's table - seems Paalo has been doing some planning and to my immense pleasure I have a perfect view of the Kitchen and we'll be enjoying a degustation lunch.


We begin with the 1985 Veuve Clicquot Rosé - 1985 was a fantastic year in Champagne and this is a perfect example, a splendid drop in which to toast.

As usual the meal begins with the liquid nitrogen cleanser.



Our first course are the crusted yabbies - seared on one side and served on top of tapioca infused with pieces of longan.

Next we are given two different dishes -


Elle and Al both get to enjoy the mixed tomato salad with sorrel and white chocolate sorbet and tomato broth

and Paalo and I get to try one of the newer dishes



In regards to this offering, can I say, You had me at Quail! Along with pieces of seared quail there are baby turnips, golden carrots and baby orange carrots and baby beets and baby leeks and the most tasty roasted hazelnuts - a kaleidoscope of colour and flavour and texture.




You might be asking what are those usually shaped black shards - well it's dried squid ink and they sit atop seared fish fillets and calamari coils that look like they had been perfectly patterned so when they cooked they looked like fiddle-head ferns.



This next dish screamed FLAVOUR. Sautéed bone marrow served with wonderfully sticky dehydrated vegetables and beetroot dust. The marrow so gelatinous, it melted in the heat of your mouth.




Our final savoury dish - roasted lamb rump served on a eggplant sauce. We had earlier enjoyed the scent of roasting eggplants and now we were enjoying them. Draped over the top were baby leeks and to one side a sesame seed brittle with rosemary flowers.

anton careme

Written on the wall in the area of the chef's table - these words of Anton Careme face out into the kitchen.

green apple

The dessert that wowed the tables at the recent Desserts of the Future Dinner - green apple sorbet, blackberry, cashew nuts, tiny cubes of apple, white wine vinegar and parsnip!


A most fitting end to the meal and a most intriguing combination of flavours. Served on an ice-cold plate and centred on the plate was a caramelised core of Corella Pear sitting atop Olive Oil Ice cream with broken cake crumbs speckled with caramelised black olive. It's hard to describe just how good this whole dish was - the ice cream being a real eye-opener.

Now this should have been the end of our meal but to my surprise and even Paalo's, the ever-charming Alastair came bearing this delightful offering



How absolutely fantastic is that! My sincere thanks go to everyone at Fenix - Dan Hunter for creating the fabulous menu, Darren Purchese for the stunning birthday cake and Alastair who effortlessly managed the day and always finds the perfect wines to compliment every dish - they all went out of way to make the day special.


And just look how wonderfully it sliced and rest assured we savoured every bite.

The details:

Fenix can be found at
680 Victoria Street Richmond
(03) 9427 8500

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dinner @ Paris Go

For our pre-Easter dinner with Elle and Al, they've suggested we try a taste of France at Paris Go.

We begin as is our want with a bubbly, in this case a bottle of NV Pol Roger and as Paalo spies a Châteauneuf-du-Pape on the menu, we decide on a bottle of it as well.

For starters:

Tart aux poireaux [$11]

Al chose the Leek Tart

Pate de foies de volailles [$10]

and Elle opts for the Chicken Liver Pate.

Assiette Froide [$15]

Paalo has the platter that consists of chicken liver pate, home made duck terrine and freshly cured ocean trout

Soupe a l'oignon gratinee [$12]

while I have the French onion soup.

For mains:

Both Elle and I choose one of the specials:


Chicken Ballontine - it's a maryland that has been boned and then stuffed with a mix of pork and chicken, served with a morel sauce and mashed potatoes.

Al choose one of the fish specials:


Kingfish fillet served with scallops in a pernod sauce.


Paalo also has a special: Couscous Royale
It's a mixed grill on couscous with a roasted vegetable sauce. Grilled chicken, lamb chops, and sausages are just a few of items resting across the couscous. A small dollop of harissa sits nearby.

We manage to find room for desserts by having Paalo order the item that takes 20 minutes to make!

pear tart
Pear Tart Tartin [$12]

Al has another special of the day - Pear Tart Tartin

apple tart
Tart aux pommes feuilletes chaud [$11]

Paalo has the apple tart

Crème Brulée [$11]

Elle has the Crème Brulée

Oeufs a la neige [$11]

and I order the breasts, well that's what they look like.

The details:

Paris Go
116 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 7507

Tuesday - Sunday: 6pm - 11pm

Wednesday - Friday: 12pm - 3pm