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Friday, May 25, 2007

Dinner @ Fenix

It's buzzing tonight at Fenix, the restaurant is full, upstairs and downstairs function rooms are full and it's a mix of new and newer dishes tonight.

As usual, we begin with Champagne Ruinart and the green tea palette cleanser.

A mix of field and cultivated mushrooms in a smoked tuna broth - there's a cleansing pungency in the broth that makes it a great way to start the meal.
To drink: Jones Road Chardonnay

Seared scallops with aloe vera, pork jelly and baby fennel
To drink: Scorpo Pinot Gris

A new dish for us - love the just cooked scallops, excellent texture. The baby fennel has to be smallest fennel I've ever seen, it's to the left hand side of the plate, that small green coloured object. Between the scallop halves is the segment of aloe vera and to the right of the plate, the pork jelly.

Wild Barramundi: Brussels sprout, parsnip, truffle sand
To drink: Jones Road Chardonnay

We're both happy to see this dish again and happier to report the fish is still as fabulous as our previous tasting.


From this view you can make out the truffle sand a little better, it's sitting between the cubes of parsnip - the sand tends to dissolve in the mouth and it leaves you with that lovely hint of truffle. The dark liquid is the lactose caramel.

Dehydrated Vegetables: bone marrow, beetroot soil

I've said it before but the flavours of the dehydrated vegetables are amazingly intense and when coupled with texture of the marrow it's a dish that demands attention.

Pork Scotch with Caramelised Witlof and Cocoa and Coffee

goat cheese
Goats Curd: Fennel Flower
To drink: Sauterne

The previous time we had this dish it was without a wine match - this time it's matched to a Sauterne which I think works well in providing that missing sweet element.


Confit cumquats, burnt orange cream and macadamia - the macadamia reminds us of the almond polvoron we savoured at the Mugaritz dinner. We both just loved every part of this dessert - Paalo likened it to toast and marmalade - the macadamia in the role of the toast, the burnt orange cream is the lashings of butter and the confit cumquats, naturally enough is the marmalade.

Tarragon Marshmallow: earl grey, chocolate sand

If the confit cumquats puts you in heaven, then you reach nirvana here. Our previous comments stand in regards to this offering.

petit fours

To finish off:
Vanilla Jellies, Salt and Vinegar Chocolate Sticks and Coffee Macaroons.

The details:

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

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Breakfast @ Babble on Babylon

We've probably had more breakfasts here than we could probably count so I thought it was about time I actually took some photos!

One of Paalo's favourites are the pancakes and if he's looking for a bit of indulgence this will be his choice.


A two stack of pancakes with caramelised bananas and cream...


Lots of cream!

And for me...


Eggs Benedict

An excellent way to start the day.

The details

Babble on Babylon
85 Brighton Road, Elwood
Phone: 03 9532 4211

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Customers Behaving Badly

Haalo's post "That's Gold" from 16/4/07 got me to thinking (always a very dangerous thing).

Bad chefs disappear but bad customers just go to a different restaurant.

Using the example as quoted if Shannon was a bad chef with a bad restaurant he would lose customers, go broke and never be heard of again. If Mr Kelson on the other hand was a bad customer he would just move on.

In other words a bad customer is always a bad customer, while a bad chef becomes something else, a food critic or restaurant reviewer perhaps? Or, giving them the benefit of the doubt, a good Waiter / Blogger / Doctor etc.

Now with this in mind I would like to collect some customer reviews. Please fell free to comment and add any you, gentle reader, have come across. Some indication of accuracy would be great, i.e.:

First hand - you actually heard/said it.
Second hand - someone you trust heard/said it.
Third hand - you read it in the media.
Urban Legend - everything else!
I wish - Totally made up or something you wish you could have said/heard.

I'm only interested in the spoken or written word, no special sauce stories please.

I'll kick it off with two.

First Hand - Gordon Ramsay in Hells Kitchen. "Take these blond bimbos back to plastic surgery" a little unjustly I thought, surprisingly, they where actually complaining over not getting their food.

Gordon is sure to be a veritable gold mine of customer reviews, what I'm really would like are the unpublished gems such as:

Second Hand - Waiter in a SOHO restaurant (Wong Kee, I believe, circa 1999) in London. "If you want quick service you f*** off to McDonald's." This is one of my favourites.

and I'll repeat a third:

Third Hand - Shannon Bennett's "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."

Not as succinct as my second example but far more eloquently put!

Get the drift. If you are concerned with libel email one of us your story and we'll ensure no one can be recognised.

I have more, they will come.

I've changed the title of this post (from Customer reviews) to clarify that I'm more interested in retorts to bad customers rather than indications of bad restaurants. The jury is out on Wong Kee at the moment, Is this a restaurant with great food and bad service? or, does it attact fussy customers looking for abuse? or, ????

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dinner @ Fenix

It's always great coming here as you never know exactly what you might be having and tonight there's some brand new dishes on show.

As usual we start with Champagne Ruinart followed by the liquid nitrogen starter.

It's now being presented in a softer more chewier form - you don't quite get that billowing dragon-like clouds escaping from your nostrils.

Autumnal Vegetables: hazelnuts, sesame

In the mix you'll find baby beetroot, baby onions, pine mushrooms, carrot, turnip and eggplant.

Calamari: sardine, squid ink "caviar"

The squid ink sheet has now got a name - petrified squid ink - the caviar is made using amaranth and I must add that the roasted garlic based sauce is just fantastic - a great match to the tender calamari.


Just a close up view of the Squid ink "caviar"

Wild Barramundi: brussel sprout, parsnip, truffle sand

This is the second newest dish on the menu and we both agree that is the best piece of barramundi we have tasted - the skin was crisp but the flesh was so succulent and juicy and came apart in lovely firm shards. It was cooked simply but with skill that made it a pleasure to eat. The fish sits on a cauliflower puree with a small pool of lactose caramel to one side.

Macleay Valley Rabbit: white bean, artichoke, tarragon

Rabbit presented in 3 ways, individual rabbit ribs were included in the salad of seasonal beans and artichoke.

Goats Curd: fennel flower

This is presented as a palette cleanser - served on a icy cold plate the goats curd is frozen and dotted simply with fennel flowers. Both elements are quite strongly flavoured - the goats curd having that pronounced sharpness, the fennel quite warming.

Tarragon Marshmallow: earl grey, chocolate sand

This is the newest dish on the menu - the marshmallow is cooked in liquid nitrogen and if you are fortunate enough to have this dish pay particular attention to the way the marshmallow changes in texture over time. It's such a well balanced dish, the flavours all work in harmony and play off each other, there's different textures, a very well thought out dish and most importantly, thoroughly enjoyable to eat.

The details:

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

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lunch @ Canvas

We don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo here in Australia but hey I'll use any excuse to have a leisurely lunch.

After quite a few attempts to return to Canvas - having found it closed we ended up dining across the road at The Undertaker - we turn up to actually find that it's open!

With the bar section full of LWL (ladies who lunch) an executive decision is made to try out the restaurant again.

duck foie gras
Confit Duck Terrine and Foie Gras Parcel ($22)

Paalo's starter - there's a slight dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon over the filo wrapped foie gras. Paalo is impressed with the quantity and quality of foie gras.

prawns rabbit
Seared prawns with Rabbit Rillettes Spring Rolls served with a parsley sauce ($19)

This was my starter - 4 plump prawns with crispy tails intact. In the spring roll, finely shredded shiitake mushroom mixed with carrot, spring onion and shredded rabbit rillettes.

Mixed Vegetarian Treats ($26)

Paalo opted for something lighter for a main to counter his rich first course. On the plate we had Pumpkin Soup, Mushroom and Taleggio Tart, Spinach and Feta Triangle and Lemon Risotto.

Quail with Stuffed Cabbage Rolls ($18)

I decide to just have another starter and it's quite a hearty serving - a boned quail cooked till wonderfully crisp served with a meat stuffed cabbage roll. I especially loved the crunchy outer leaves of the roll.


For a side we opted for the Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Kipfler potatoes ($6.50).

Yoghurt Pannacotta and Rhubarb Tart with Vanilla Ice cream and Sesame Wafer ($14)

Paalo's dessert - the yoghurt certainly adding a good tang to the pannacotta, the tart was served warm and had quite a molten core.

Mixed Berry Pudding with Orange Custard and Cointreau Ice Cream ($14)

This was my dessert - my only complaint would be that the ice cream was too heavily flavoured with Cointreau.

The details
Canvas Restaurant and Bar
Level 1, 302-320 Burwood Road
Phone: 03 9819 2200

Open - Restaurant:
Monday - Friday: 10am - late
Saturday: 9am for breakfast; lunch/dinner until late
Sunday: Closed

Open - Bar:
7 days until late (1am license)