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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lunch @ Eleonore's Restaurant

After our successful trip into the "country" a few weeks back, Paalo is in a traveling mood. We aren't venturing quite as far, just the Yarra Valley. Initially we had plans to possibly revisit Cucina Rossa at Bianchet but the rather large sign heralding "Friday Curry Night" and "Devonshire Teas" really put us off that idea. Our next choice was closed so third time being the trick, we found ourselves at Chateau Yering.

There are two dining options here and we opted for their signature restaurant - Eleonore's.


Not a bad view to enjoy during your meal. It is a pretty impressive dining room -


more so when you realise it was built only 11 years ago!


It certainly was built in a sympathetic style to the original home.

0DSCN5125.jpg 0DSCN5124.jpg

We both enjoyed the oven fresh olive rolls served wonderfully warm.

For starters:

My choice: Crisp parcel of Persian Fetta, shaved beetroot and black truffle, beetroot jelly


We are in the country so the serves are generous. This is a dish you'd gladly eat anywhere. You first get that wonderful aroma of white perigord truffle, cut through the crisp warka pastry and you find a luscious semi-soft ooze of persian fetta, a mix of creaminess and saltiness. The beetroot in its various forms, raw, jelly and paste highlights different elements of the beetroot -its earthiness, sweetness and tang.

Paalo's choice: Tataki of Wagyu, Wasabi panna cotta, crisp sushi rice, black bean vinaigrette, beer air.

When Paalo's eyes rolled back into his head as he took the first bite of wagyu I knew it just had to be good.

Onto mains:


My Choice: Sirloin on the Bone with Potato dauphinoise, bearnaise sauce and forest mushrooms.

Another excellent piece of beef - a classic combination of flavours.


Paalo's choice: Slow cooked Lamb Loin, Lambs fry and onion pie, carrot puree and rosemary jus

We probably didn't need it but we ordered the cheese course to share:


Once again, it's a country sized serve!



If we didn't need to have the cheese, we really didn't need to have dessert

Paalo's Choice: Steamed Lemon Pudding; hot vanilla anglaise, grand marnier creme, lime jellies, kaffir lime ice-cream

My choice: Roast Hazelnut Torte - feuilletine crunch base, caramel mousse centre, mocha marshmallow, coffee and kahlua ice-cream

We've been really impressed with the quality of the dishes that we've had today and will certainly be adding this to our must revisit list.

The details:

Eleonore's Restaurant at Chateau Yering
42 Melba Highway, Yering
Phone: +61 3 9237 3333

Dinner - every evening from 6.30pm
Lunch - Saturday and Sunday from 12pm - 3pm


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dinner @ Interlude

It's taken much longer than we had planned to return to Interlude and with the end of the financial year approaching, why not celebrate it in style.

The photos are not the best, low lighting is the culprit so I can only say that if you want to see the full glory of the food - head off to interlude and experience it for yourself.

Olive Our Twist
NV Manzanilla Sanluca de Barrameda, Barbadillo "Solear"

We tasted this dish as part of the Capaldi dinner here - this is a starter that is full of strong flavours, the salty robustness of olives and anchovies team with the rich sweet notes of roasted capsicum and olive oil toffee shards. This is a dish to not only grab hold of your taste buds, but slap them around and make sure that they won't be missing any nuances from the dishes to follow.

Yam Chowder, Smoked Tofu, Char Grilled Squid
2006 Kabinett Riesling, Selbach-Oster

At the base of the bowl in a piece of smoked tofu - the tofu is actually made in-house and does a great job of being a flavour carrier. The chowder is silky and thick and is complimented by the tender squid.

Fish out of Water
2006 Rias Baixas Albarino Lusco do Mino

With this next dish you get the chef himself coming out to pour the broth and explain the components. A separate bowl of "fish food" comes with this and it's a mix of wakame and flavourings that you get to sprinkle over your broth.

Wrapped around the breadstick straw is whiting which has been seared.


It is a fun dish as you use the straw to draw up the broth and even if you take bites off the fish end it doesn't affect its ability to work as a straw.

Rabbit, Lentis, Liquorice Beignets
2006 VDP Collines Rhondaniennes, Syrah Y Cuilleron "Sybel"

Slices of gently cooked rabbit are placed amongst two liquorice beignets - the jelly set into the base of the bowl just dissolves in the heat of your mouth, filling it with the flavour. The final touch is the mustard which just cleans the palate.

Oyster, Horseradish, Passionfruit - Inspired by the Fat Duck
2006 Toscana, Teruzzi & Puthod "Terre di Tufi"

A most interesting dish - the passionfruit walks on that fine line of tartness but never crosses, it's pulled back into place with the horseradish shards and the salty creamyiness of the oyster. Basil seeds are also used to mimic the passionfruit seeds.

Blue Eye, cooked in Roast Chicken Jelly with Trimmings
2005 Pyrenees Chardonnay Dalwhinnie Moonambel

Part of the trimmings are real baby asparagus of the type you just never see in the markets - there's also some fresh chanterelles and baby carrot. The blue eye is surrounded in a roast chicken flavoured jelly which works wonderfully with the fish - the jelly also has a low melting point to dissolve in your mouth.

Lamb, Coffee, Redcurrant, Fennel
2004 Rioja Palacio Remondo "La Montessa"

There are two types of lamb here - the lamb sirloin and a slow cooked lamb neck, the coffee takes its place in a coffee couscous.

Rhubarb, Rosewater
2007 Barossa Valley, Tobreck "The Bothie"

The pre-dessert is a study in pink - two quenelles of ice cream, the darker one at the bottom is rhubarb ice cream, the lighter one is a delicate rosewater ice cream. Rosewater can be a bit overpowering but the innate tartness of the rhubarb helps to pull in the rosewater.

Chestnut, Hazelnut, Rosemary, Gianduja
2001 Wachau Auslese Gruner Velrliner, Weingur Knoll

One of my favourite desserts - hazelnut, chocolate and the haunting flavour of rosemary, certainly not a herb you'd usually associate with a dessert but it works so well here.

Chocolate, Beetroot, Coffee, Pannacotta
NV Muscat Campbells

Ever since I first tasted beetroot jellies back in Fenix, I was a convert to beetroot being used in dessert and this dish keeps me firmly in the beetroot camp.

Banana, Golden Syrup, Coconut, Pinenuts
2003 Sauternes, Chateau Roumieur-Lacoste "Leon Dubourdieu"

It's the coconut that brings a lovely freshness to this final dish of the evening.


To finish a selection of petit fours.

It's been another fascinating evening with dishes that satisfy all the senses - they can challenge orthodoxy but they can also bring a touch of whimsy to the table. Each plate is a study that shows not only the quality of the ingredient but the quality and care of the people in the kitchen and those on the floor.

The details:

211 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Phone: 9415 7300

Lunch: Tuesday to Friday 12-3pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6.30pm to late


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lunch @ Pizza e Vino

Luca Lorusso, the man behind Cafe Latte has opened a more casual spot just a few doors down from the cafe called Pizza e Vino.

Table decoration is fairly basic with the menu stamped on the placemats - a small selection of daily specials compliment the menu.

We decide to start with a pizza to share:

Pizza with Potato, Sage and Rosemary

Simply cut into four, this really is the type of pizza you expect to find in Italy. Simple, pure flavours with a thin base.

For mains:

I have the Pappardelle with Duck Ragú - the pasta was very good but I would have liked a little more depth of flavour in the duck ragú, the sauce needed to be cooked for a little longer.

Paalo has one of the specials - a wine marinated lamb shoulder with potatoes and rosemary. A hearty dish, the lamb perfectly tender.

Onto dessert:


Paalo goes it alone with the Tiramisu - it's a good version and although it looks like a large serve it's quite light.

The details:

Pizza e Vino
517 Malvern Road, Toorak

Phone: 03 9826 8815

Tuesday - Sunday: Noon - 3pm; 5.30pm - 10pm

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lunch @ La Luna Bistro

It's been a while so we're heading back to La Luna for lunch.

For starters:

I have the Confit Duck, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Filo Tart served on endive, roasted red pepper and semi-dried tomato

This is a most impressive dish - the filling was really thick and unctuous and chock full of flavour - the salad providing a pleasant balance.

Paalo had the Lamb Sausages with potato aioli and a parsley and red onion salad

A good chunky grind, moist and still a little pink - they ticked all the right boxes for Paalo, with the jus proving to be utterly irresistible.

Onto mains:

I have the Crackling wrapped roll of Roast Pork, Tuscan style cabbage and Potato Puree

This was a thick slice of roast pork - the crackling cooked to perfection - not too crisp that it shatters, not too soft that its just too chewy.


Paalo has the Rump with mash, roasted swiss brown mushroom and red wine jus - ordered rare, it came out as requested.

For dessert, we decide to have

the Mezze for Two

Mandarin Sorbet, Creme Brulee, Lemon Curd with Strawberries, Brownies, Almond Bread with Saffron Ice-cream and Amaretto Ice-cream and Coffee Pannacotta

It may well be winter, but I just loved the flavour of that mandarin sorbet.

The details:
La Luna Bistro
320 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton

Phone: 03 9349 4888

Lunch: Tuesday - Friday: noon-3pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday: 6pm - 10pm
Brunch: Saturday - Sunday: 11am - 3pm


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dinner @ Charcoal Grill on The Hill

Paalo was channeling his inner carnivore and decided he'd like to have some beef for dinner - as none was in the fridge, he suddenly remembered that we hadn't been to Charcoal Grill on The Hill for want seems like an eternity - so with an ideal opportunity arising we promptly headed off.

Besides the good beef, this place is equally as well known for its wine list. Dejan Derbogosijan has a passion for wine and maintains a massive cellar and on the night we dined, Phillip Jones from Bass Phillip was hosting a wine dinner upstairs.

Tonight we'll be enjoying our meal with an excellent Italian - a 1993 Flaccianello della Pieve.

Menu wise - this is a place for beef lovers - you can get chicken breast though I'd be prone to say why bother. There's excellent grass feed eye fillet, sirloin, porterhouse and rump as well as some wagyu versions of same. The standard main serve is 300 grams but you can request larger - the menu also lists the "meat eating champions" - I cannot believe one person ate over 3 kilos of sirloin in one siting!

To begin:


Paalo has the chevapi sausage - 3 fat fingers of their speciality sausage - roughly minced it remains moist on the inside with a good level of spice - the simplest of presentation but the flavour speaks for itself.


I have the duck sausage - it's actually a lot fluffier than I had imagined and it is served with Broccolini that have also been grilled.

Onto mains


We both opt to have the sirloin - cooked rare and it is served with bowls of fries and vinegared coleslaw.

As we are eating, I ask Paalo if he think he could eat 10 of these to try for the record. He sadly conceeds that he couldn't and I really don't know how anyone could.

Our steaks were perfectly prepared - coming off the grill as we ordered, wonderfully rare.

After mains, the waiters come around with the cheeseboard to tempt the diners - more often than not they are successful. I think being able to see the cheese certainly is a great enticement to have it.

Naturally enough, we don't need too much enticement to have cheese and we make a selection of 3 from the 9 or so on offer

a French washed rind, Gorgonzola dolce and a French camembert

For dessert

Paalo has the Sticky date pudding

and I have the lemon and lime tart with brûlée topping

If you are in the mood for some really good red wine and top-quality steak then Charcoal Grill on The Hill is a place you should visit.

The details:
Charcoal Grill on The Hill
289 High Street, Kew

Phone: 03 9853 7535

Friday: 12 - 3pm
Monday - Saturday: 6pm - 11pm

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lunch @ Tea Rooms of Yarck

It was a spur of a moment decision but Paalo likes to do spur of the moment things and as he does the driving, we're off to Yarck for lunch at the Tea Rooms of Yarck.

Unfortunately our estimated 2 hour drive turned out to be more like 2 and a half hour drive - mental note made - do spur of the moment things earlier in the morning!

The Tea Rooms are owned by Pietro Porcu who also runs Da Noi here in Melbourne.


The Tea Rooms are housed in what looks like a normal country house of the area. You can order a la carte or you can leave it up to the Chef and enjoy a degustation. No surprise really but we opt for the degustation complete with wine matches.

We begin with glasses of Bellussi Prosecco

The first dish

is a simple Mixed Mushroom Pizza - this is probably the closest we've gotten to a real Italian pizza - misshaped with an extremely thin base, topped sparingly - we get misty eyed with memories of Rome over it.


Next up:


A trio of dishes

Pheasant Salad

a blurry photo of pork terrine

and pepperonata - this tastes like my mother made it and once again I'm wondering why I don't make it that much anymore.

Two more dishes join the table:

red wine marinated octopus - that is a carrot sitting atop the octopus pieces and it has actually absorbed but the flavour and texture of the octopus. The octopus is a pleasure to eat - tender, not at all rubbery.

house-cured trout with herbed curd quenelle

Onto the pasta course:

Gnocchi with Mushrooms - while the gnocchi are bigger than I'm used to they are tender and taste of potato so I'm very pleased.

Next course - seafood

Seafood Platter - Crab, mussels, baby octopus, vongole in a spicy rich tomato broth

This dish certainly had the heads of the other patrons turning - and for very good reason too.

Last savoury course - pork

Pork Ragù with caramelised fennel and Polenta

It takes time to make a ragù as good as this - the pork was full of flavour, deeply coloured, dense and rich.

By this stage we were the only ones left in the restaurant so the staff started setting up a table so they could have their meal - while we enjoyed our desserts

a lovely set of three

pastry cream filled profiteroles with chocolate sauce and strawberries

quince and chocolate cake with red wine poached pear

and a semifreddo

To end the meal, coffee and these biscotti


The drive home took a little longer as we were caught in this


there were emergency vehicles and what looked like diversions but by the time we got moving again we actually couldn't see any trace of what had caused the delay.

When comparing Da Noi to Tea Rooms, we both agreed that we enjoyed the Tea Rooms more - while the food is similar the atmosphere is more conducive to the enjoyment of the meal. It's a bit of a drive but the destination is more than worth it.

The details:

Tea Rooms of Yarck
6585 Maroonday Hwy, Yarck

Phone: 03 5773 4233

Friday: 5.30pm-11pm
Saturday-Sunday: 12pm - late