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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lunch @ Bistro Vue

It's been a while since we've done Saturday lunch in the city and there's no better choice than Bistro Vue.


We begin with a couple of glasses of Gardet Brut Spécial and when it comes to ordering our main bottle, our first choice of the Highbank is not available. It seems that our talent of picking wines that have run out knows no bounds. We eventually decide on the Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz.


For starters:


Paalo's Choice: Two hour poached egg with wild mushroom purée and Shimeji mushrooms

I had this last time we dined here so I know how good it was - this one was thoroughly enjoyed by Paalo, he especially loved the consistency of the egg.


My Choice: Jamon with Salt Cod Beignets and Confit Cherry tomatoes

The Jamon (Serrano) wasn't quite as nice as the one I had at Church Street Enoteca - this one lacked any of those delightful acorn flavours. However I really enjoyed the beignets and overall this was a very nice dish.

For mains:

We choose the Cote de Boeuf which is a dish for two - the char-grilled Wagyu Sirloin is served on a wooden platter with an assortment of sauces - béarnaise, pepper and diane


We are each given a plate with those famous goose fat fried Pommes Frites and a roasted onion


and we order a side dish of Creamed garlic Spinach.



There's a large selection available but we chose a soft blue, a spanish goat washed rind and Pont l'Eveque


and to eat with the cheese, we both get this plate of pear slices, oatmeal biscuits and crackers.


Yes, we just couldn't go past it.


Tarte tartin aux Poires - this is a dish for 2 but it could easily satisfy 4.



The details:
Bistro Vue
430 Little Collins Street
Entrance via New Chancery Laneway

Phone: 9691 3838

Monday-Saturday: 11am until Late


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dinner @ Matteo's

It's Easter Saturday and we've joined Al and Elle for dinner at Matteo's. It's no surprise but we opt for the Tasting Menu.

First course:


From Left to Right:
Teriyaki glazed smoked eel, rice crusted tofu, pickled plum and bonito mayonnaise
Petuna ocean trout tataki, yuzu miso sauce with yarra valley salmon roe
Semi-cured hiramasa kingfish, prawn remoulade, shiso japanese basil sauce

To drink:
2005 Christmont Riesling and 2007 Hoddles Creek Pinot Gris


We're told to eat this from right to left and the general consensus was that the semi-cured harimasa kingfish was a stand out - that's not to diminish the quality of the other two.

Good sized pieces of prawn are found in the remoulade that sits under the kingfish slices.


The smoked eel is soft and juicy with an enticing smoky aroma and flavour.

Second Course:


From Left to Right:
Scallop Tortelone and Seared Scallop, sweet ginger and carrot sauce
Tempura Zucchini Flower filled with fetta, watermelon, radish and coriander salad, tamarind vinaigrette

To drink:
2005 Chatto Semillon and 2007 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc


The watermelon works really well here and is a great partner to the fetta filled zucchini flower - it makes a most refreshing change to the more typical tomato pairing.


Quite a densely filled tortelone but it is surprisingly light.

Third Course:


From Left to Right:
Seared peppered venison loin, peking cabbage and bamboo shoot okonomiyaki, teriyaki glazed field mushroom, pickled red radish
Pork Kakuni master stock braised pork belly, zucchini, crushed soya bean and shiso paper cannelloni

To Drink:
2002 Brini Estate Grenache Shiraz and 2001 Summerfield Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon


It's good to see venison on the menu and here it is presented beautifully pink - tender and juicy. The Okonomiyaki more than pulls it's weight and is an equal in the dish.


Paalo described this as "liquid fat"- he was referring to the way the layer of fat under the skin had turned jelly-like. The meat itself was meltingly tender - this is truly decadent.



From Left to Right:
Traditional Tiramisu with chocolate coated coffee bean
cinnamon ice cream
warm crepe roulade with pistachio nougat ricotta

To drink:
2004 Serrat Late Harvest Viognier


Underneath the pistachio fairy floss is a rolled crepe filled with a pistachio flavoured ricotta.
The tiramisu and the ice-cream were both excellent.

By the end of the meal we're all completely satisfied - excellent food and wine with service to match and I must add, it is excellent value considering the quality.

The tasting menu is $98 a head or $145 with wine matches.

533 Brunswick Street, Nth Fitzroy
Phone: 9481 1177

Lunch: Sunday-Friday from noon
Dinner: 7 days from 6pm


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dinner @ Church Street Enoteca

We're continuing with our Italianish theme and have headed to Church Street Enoteca for dinner.


It's a very pleasant surprise to see a familiar face here - restaurant manager, Alastair. Now Alistair used to work at Fenix but left about 8 or so months ago - now we know where he went!


Since we're in an Italian mood, we began with Prosecco rather than Champagne. It's not offered by the glass, instead you get those cute little 200ml bottles. Unfortunately the Prosecco wasn't quite to our liking - next time we'll try the champagne.

To enjoy with our meal we eventually select the Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2004 from Sicily - it's a 60/40 blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato - it's quite the interesting wine.

For starters (be aware the photos aren't that great as Paalo took them ;) and the lighting is more suited to dining rather than photo taking)

Paalo's choice: Tortellini of Parmigiano Reggianno, Ricotta and Pecorino, served with a sage butter, pine nuts, goat cheese, raisins and 30 year old balsamic

We were forewarned that this was a rich dish but the description was way to enticing to skip. It is a luscious dish and Paalo found it very hard to resist soaking up those juices welling at the bottom of his bowl withh bread. There's acid, sweetness, creaminess and tartness - a wonderful balancing act.

My Choice: Sliced Figs with Gorgonzola and Iberico Jamon drizzled with lavender honey and a scattering of micro herbs.

This is the type of dish I love - uncomplicated yet offering a variety of tastes and textures. The soft shards of Jamon were perfect examples of the best of Jamon - a strong nutty taste perfuming the flesh. The Gorgonzola adds a salty creamy character while the figs and honey bring a sweet perfume to the dish.

As a little treat we were given a plate of the Tomato Salad - Vine ripened Heirloom tomatoes, white anchovies, fiore di latte and basil

A timeless combination made with excellent quality ingredients.

Onto Mains:

Paalo's Choice: Abbachio alla Romana - wet roasted Meredith suckling lamb with soft Polenta, parmigiano reggiano and breadcrumbs

This comes to the table in two parts - the bowl of soft polenta is placed before you and the lamb comes out in it's fry-pan, topped with browned parmesan breadcrumbs where it is then served onto the polenta.

A good rustic dish - the polenta was soft but with an appealing grainess to the texture. The lamb was flavoursome, tender and well-cooked.

My choice: Bistecca Fiorentina - salt crusted King Island Black Angus t-bone served with nicola potato mash, spinach and lemon.

The menu tells us that this is dry aged for 45 days before it's boned and then aged another 7 days before it's portioned. The restaurant then dries the steaks in their cool room for at least 48 hours before they can be served.

Choice of condiments served with the steak - various mustards, creamed horseradish

The last time I had Bistecca Fioretina was in Florence and this was made with a similar feel. Once again, it's excellent produce that has been well cooked.

We also ordered a side dish of Steamed green beans with toasted almonds and marinated Persian Fetta.

Onto desserts:

My choice: Textures of Chocolate - milk, white and dark, honeycomb, puffed rice, pistachio ice cream

Paalo's Choice: Coconut Pannacotta - mango, lime, mango sorbetto

Both desserts were impressive - certainly not what you'd expect and far removed from your typical traditional Italian dessert.

The details:
Church Street Enoteca
527 Church Street, Richmond

Phone: 9428 7898

Restaurant Open:
Lunch: Monday-Friday 12-3pm
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 6pm to late


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lunch @ Pearl

We've taken advantage of a break in the hot spell to head off to Pearl for a leisurely lunch


and by the look of the restaurant, everyone else is staying indoors.

We mull over the menu with glasses of champagne and once again start with oysters

Moulting Bay Oysters served with mint and green chilli nam jim


yes, I think we enjoyed them. I must add that just like Bacash these oysters were served still attached to the shell however they were a little easier to pry free. I understand that serving them attached to the shell is a way of showing they are super fresh but with the cutlery usually supplied, detaching them isn't an easy thing to do and I'd be more than willing to forgo that perception of "ultra freshness" for a little convenience.

Onto starters

Paalo's choice: Saltwater char cooked in palm sugar and nam pla, wallis lakes rock oysters, sashimi of gould's squid with iberico ham and honey dew melon, shaved lime ice

In the center, the sashimi of squid with shaved lime ice.
Around the rim are 3 pieces of the iberico ham topped palm sugar cured saltwater char interspersed with 3 wallis lakes oysters that sat on slivered cucumber.

A wonderful study of differing textures and tastes all beautifully balanced.

My Choice: Half shell hervey bay scallops with yellow curry sauce, crispy fried shallots, coriander and lime

At first look you might think that there's just too much curry paste over the scallops but the yellow curry sauce provided such a wonderful foil for the just cooked scallops. It was perfectly spiced so as to accentuate the sweetness of the scallops.


For our mains:



Paalo's Choice: Sukiyaki of Moondara beef with tofu, shitake, enoki and daikon, shiso and chyrsanthemum shoots, dashi broth added at the table. On the side, udon noodle, ponzu and sesame dipping sauces.

It was both amusing and sad that when Paalo ordered it, the waiter had to tell him that it's not served as a steak! Unfortunately people tend to see waygu or beef and don't click that it's Sukiyaki (or worse, they don't know what sukiyaki is) and as they have had some upset customers in the past they now have to make sure people understand what the dish is.

The dashi broth is poured at the table and then it's up to you to decide how long the beef slices "cook" in the broth.

My choice: Soy braised baby chicken, roast pumpkin, red date and ginger flower dumpling, spring onion relish, star anise master stock sauce

The pumpkin, red date and ginger flower dumpling looked a little more like a spherical ravioli and it sat between the beans and chicken. A simple dish but with complex flavours.

A break with cheese:


Cromwell Bishop Organic Stilton, Queso Iberico, Pont L'Eveque


Finally dessert

Paalo's Choice: Frozen white chocolate and black cherry mousse with coconut biscuit, ruby grapefruit, papaya, rambutan fruit salad and lychee sorbet

I don't think I need to say that this was a gorgeous dessert.

My Choice: Golden dumplings "the redux" - crisp fried taro dumplings with dark, milk and white valrhona chocolate, vanilla custard and gold leaf


A close up of one of the taro balls - there are three in the serving, each filled with a different molten chocolate


Filled with dark chocolate..


filled with milk chocolate...


and filled with white chocolate.

Hard to believe, these were even tastier than they looked.

The details:

The details:

Pearl Restaurant
631-633 Church Street, Richmond

Monday-Sunday: 6.30pm-11pm

Monday-Sunday: 12pm-3pm

Monday-Friday: 9am-Midnight
Weekends/Public Holidays: 11am-Midnight

Phone: 03 9421 4599