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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lunch @ Magic City

At one time Magic City seemed to have the food writers in a tizz, eager to outdo each other in espousing the virtues of this restaurant. When we eventually bit the bullet and dined, it failed to live up to the hype. Now that the buzz has long gone we decided it was time for another visit.

I must say it was quite a surreal experience - as we were waiting for our food, we both had come to the realisation that Paalo was the only man dining in the restaurant - the only man out of 38 diners! This really is a place for the LWL (ladies who lunch).

Paalo chose the Free range Asian Pork with Thai Pear Salad and Apple Plum Sauce.


I chose the Salt and pepper calamari with herb salad and sweet chilli dressing - nicely spiced with a good crunch.


A wasabi sauce accompanies the french fries.


With banana's being a luxury, I've opted for the rum bananas with caramel, walnuts and ice cream.


Paalo choose the kaffir lime leaf panna cotta.

The details
Magic City
871 Burke Road, Camberwell
Phone: (03) 9882 7788

Open 7 days from breakfast to late

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dinner @ The Press Club

For our second visit to The Press Club we have company in the form of Elle and Al. After perusing the menu with a bottle of Drappier Brut ZD we opt to try the Kerasma B 5 course degustation menu. As Elle is quite partial to champagne, while 3 of us will opt to have wine matches with our meal, we've also ordered the Egly-Ouriet Brut.


Antipasto - Sakanaki Martini, Dolmades, assorted olives, pickled octopus, pickled cabbage, marinated anchovies


Baklava stuffed baby squid with sweet onion stifado sauce - obviously a dish we enjoyed as we were too busy chowing down on it to take a photo.


Deep fried quail on beetroot taziki - incredibly good, the ultimate in spiced fried poultry.


Greek salad - cucumber quarters, tomato, olives and feta


Yoghurt braised neck of lamb, olive oil and pomme puree


Raviolo, seared fish with broad beans and feta


Dessert mezedes -
Chios Mastic Panna Cotta with marinated strawberries,
Chocolate souffle,
Watermelon sorbet with feta
Carpaccio of sesame seeds, licorice ice cream and tahini,
Greek donuts,
Cypriot cinnamon ice cream with sour cherry jam
Chocolate baklava
Passionfruit Tzatziki

The details:
The Press Club Restaurant and Bar
72 Flinders Street
Phone: 03 9677 9677
Lunch: Monday-Friday
Dinner: Monday- Saturday

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lunch @ Italy 1

Another one of these places that we haven't been to in a while. I must say that it bears all the hallmarks of the worst of 90's restaurant design - tiny tables packed as closely together as possible. When the restaurant is full, the only way through the restaurant is sideways! It really makes me appreciate places such as Fenix that give the patrons decent sized tables, that are generously spaced from their neighbours. It helps to create the dining experience rather than make you feel as if you're in some kind of feed lot.


Antipasto - we decide to share the Antipasto ($18) which for a serving for 1 is a good portion. There's a couple of mini grissini sticks, proscuitto, olives, roasted red pepper, pickled calamari, salami, asparagus, arancini and labne (or as they call it on the menu garlic yoghurt curd)


Veal Coteletta with mashed potato - this is off the fixed price lunch menu. It's quite small and I believe the veal lied about it's age. It's looks like it's made in-house and is cooked to order. The mashed potatoes are quite smooth and overall it's alright.


Paalo opts for the Gnocchi con Agnello ($25.50) from the regular menu and he gets a more generously sized portion. The gnocchi are a touch on the large size but taste of potato. It's served with a lamb ragu. The parmesan is grated to order at the table. It's another nice dish.


Panna cotta with berry comport ($14) - it's tasty, there's nothing extraordinary about it.


Tiramisu ($13) - a decent serving - not too soggy, another good interpretation of a classic dish.

At Italy 1 it's all about not changing. You don't get anything cutting edge but what you do get is well made and fairly mainstream. I think the adjective we most used during lunch was "nice". The gentile folks of Camberwell won't have their senses disturbed by eating out here.

The details:
Italy 1 Camberwell
Burke Road, Camberwell (even though they are really in East Hawthorn!)
Phone: 03 9804 0944

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lunch @ Wildflower

It's been a few years since we've dined at Wildflower so it was more than overdue for a re-visit. Unfortunately every time we called it was booked. Eventually our luck had to change and so it did and happily we scampered off for a spur of the moment, leisurely Saturday lunch.


Wildflower is located in a traditional Victorian building - lace trimmed veranda on a pedestrian only lane. The interior is light and airy and lacking any of the stuffiness that the exterior might imply.


For Saturday lunch there are two menus, a fixed price and a la carte. We opt for the a la carte.

My first course: Hermit crab, pickled red onion, falafel
I've never had hermit crab before but it was delicious with its quasi prawn/crayfish characteristics. A large cube of falafel sat underneath the deep fried finely shredded leek along with more hermit crab pieces. A generous serving indeed.

Paalo's first course: Raviolo with rocket, char-grilled capsicum and crispy proscuitto

My main: Chicken ballotine with porcini mushroom filling on a bed of green beans. I'd call this quite a large serve but it was delicious. Earthy flavours from the porcini mixed with succulent chicken.

Paalo's main: Venison medallions topped with strudel. Another generous portion of 3 meltingly soft medallions of venison. A sticky rich jus coats the plate.

Cheese course - tasmanian gruyere, shadows of blue, comte and a camembert served with thick slices of char-grilled bread.


Desserts - they do things a little differently here. The dessert menu consists of 19 items of which you can pick any 3 to make up your dessert plate.
This is Paalo's - the centre item is a Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta which was incredible - next time Paalo might just order three of them!

We certainly won't be waiting too long before we return.

The details
1 Theatre Place, Canterbury
Phone: 03 9888 6662
Open: Tuesday - Saturday noon-2.30pm and 6.30-9.30pm; Sunday: 9am+

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dinner @ Fenix

You'll probably have worked out by now that we really like Fenix and that we've gone for the degustation option as usual. There's a mix of old and new in the dishes we're offered. As usual we start with Drappier Champagne.


Chwix - parfait of chicken livers, cocoa, lactose caramel, salad of melon


Pork Belly - it really has to be one of my all time favourite dishes and if you eat only this you'll be a very happy person.


Smoked Eel, Black Pudding crumbs, Red wine foam


Cinnamon Skewered Sweetbreads on Broad beans with mashed potato


Raspberry Foam, basil sorbet


Fenix Crème Brulee 2006

The details:
680 Victoria Street Richmond
Phone: (03) 9427 8500
Open: Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch; Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lunch @ The Healesville Hotel

Sacrilegious perhaps, but for the second year running we've missed the Melbourne Cup - last year we were in Italy, this year we're having lunch at the Healesville Hotel.


Paalo's choice: King Prawns, sautéed capsicums, rocket and prawn oil


My choice: Twice cooked Quail on braised red cabbage


Paalo's Choice: Seared Venison Fillet and Venison Pie


My Choice: Char-grilled prime dry aged sirloin with porcini mushroom pudding and grilled zucchini with parmesan.

We opted for the cheese course which came with walnut bread and quince paste - no pic though.


Paalo's Choice - Kennedy & Wilson chocolate delice with raisin compote and espresso sorbet

The Details

The Healesville Hotel
256 Maroondah Hwy
Healesville 3777
Phone: 03 5962 4002

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dinner @ Da Noi

After having been told countless times that we MUST eat here we finally bite the bullet and booked. Our table, courtesy of a cancelled booking.


We're ushered upstairs - the restaurant is housed in a narrow Victorian, tables arranged chicane style to help traffic flow. The stairs are classic, extra narrow and steep.

Menu wise - there is a limited a la carte but the reason you come here is for the degustation. We also arrange for wines to be matched to the courses - the wine list is basically Italian.

We start the meal with a Prosecco and tomato foccacia is offered to the table to start the evening - Lauretana is the mineral water, makes a change from San Pellegrino.


The first course is an array of antipasto dishes



Picked Octopus (front) with Buffalo Mozzarella and Pesto (back)


Vongole and Seared Calamari


Buffalo Mozzarella and Pesto


Zucchini Gratin

In the main photo to the top left hand side there are two other dishes - Tomato stewed Eggplant and Olive bread

The final dish in the antipasto set is a hot dish of boned roasted quail and poached egg


Second Course is Pasta and for some strange reason the photo of this dish vanished. It was sardinian gnocchi, which is more akin to pasta than what you would consider gnocchi.

Third Course is Fish - a mix of sautéed fish and whole crab in a light tomato based sauce


Fourth Course is Chicken - roasted chicken served on polenta with braised onions - the chicken was succulent it just melted from the bone


Lastly dessert, which was a platter to share - ricotta cake, panna cotta and semifreddo


The food was definitely worthy of it's reputation and the fact that is basically booked out is a testament to it's quality - just don't wait as long as we did to dine here!

The details:
Da Noi
95 Toorak Road, South Yarra
Phone: 03 9866 5975