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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dinner @ Fenix

It's Paalo's birthday so we're off for a night of indulgence at Fenix.

Fenix does seem to be making the press of late but there's one piece of information that hasn't made it out, which we can now exclusively report - the liquid nitrogen cooked cleanser is no-more!

After that bombshell, it's time for some food...

Smoked tuna broth with Poached oyster and Scallop slivers, red radish, daikon, dandelion leaves
To drink: Outlook Hill 2005 Chardonnay

The broth was as delicious as always and the Oyster is a single spore virgin oyster from South Australia - very plump with a great taste of the sea about them. We must also mention how particularly impressed we were by the Outlook Hill Chardonnay.

salt cod

Salt cod, broken pistachio cakes, celeriac and salt cod mousse, nasturtium puree
To drink: Dr Loosen Kabinett

There's been a little tweaking, presentation wise to the dish - some of the cake crumbs are now crispy which add a new textural element, the salt cod itself is a study of skill - the fish is still juicy yet breaks into large shards. It's a standout.


Pork belly, apple cubes and apple sauce, smoked eel
To drink: Eagle Vale Sauvignon Blanc Fumé

A new dish for us - the smoked eel pieces may be small but the smoke flavour is intense. We've had the pork belly in the deconstructed laska and this is every bit as good - the meat just breaks apart and is incredibly tender while the rind is almost caramel-like in chewiness. The apples are a classic flavour pairing.


Wild Barramundi, parsnip, truffle sand, Brussels sprouts, lactose caramel
To drink: Pinot Noir

It's still a superb dish.


Seared Quail breast, beetroot jelly, roasted baby vegetables, quail egg

I have mentioned it a few times before how much I love quail - this is such a good dish I'll gladly eat it again. It's had a few tweaks on presentation - the quail egg is more predominately displayed and it looks a little less structured.


Seared Venison, dehydrated vegetables with beetroot dust
To drink: 2000 Tempranillo "La Granja” from Ribera Del Duero

Another new dish - if we thought the pork was tender, then this was its equal. It's great to see venison on a menu but when it's presented so well you really get to understand why this meat is so valued. We must also mention the wine, quite a full bodied wine but matched splendidly with the venison and the strong earthy flavour of the beetroot.

In all the major elements of these dishes what is coming out is how well the kitchen is in control - whether it be meat or fish or fowl, it's tender and juicy.


Pumpkin Ice-cream, gingerbread biscuits, coffee crystals, caramelised pumpkin cubes

The pumpkin ice-cream is back and this combination works really well - the coffee no longer overwhelms the ice-cream and the crunchy biscuits gives you that texture that was missing in the previous incarnation involving a ginger-cake. It makes me think of Halloween with pumpkins and spice and even though it's ice cream, it's a great winter dish.


Caramelised Cumquat, pressed macadamia biscuit and burnt orange cream

Another dish that is still as good as ever.

I should mention that there is currently a tuesday-wednesday night BYO deal going on - if you have a special bottle (or two) you've been saving for a special occasion then this is for you. When you book, just let them know about your wine and they will create a 4 course degustation menu for you for only $85 a head and they even throw in a glass of Champagne to kick off the night. If you haven't dined here before then perhaps now is the time.

The details:

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

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lunch @ Canvas

It's only fitting that we celebrate Bastille Day by going out to dine - we return to Canvas and opt again for their lunch special.


Paalo's Choice: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Mushroom and Taleggio Tart


My choice: Cortecce with Prawns, Roasted Red Pepper, Chilli and Tomato


Paalo's Choice: Lamb Rump and Lamb Sausage on baked beans


My Choice: Confit Duck Bastilla sitting on Beetroot Marmalade and served with Carrot Fritters

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)


Friday, July 13, 2007

Dinner @ Lulo

It's Friday the 13th and we decide to tempt fate by trying a new tapas bar. Lulo fuses Latin American and Spanish cuisine's and their menu is simply divided into Tapas and Racion sized dishes - on the night we went there was also a considerable number of specials available.

We opt to try a mix of regular and specials tapas:

cured meats prawns
Left - cured meats - Jamon, spiced and mild Spanish salamis
Right - boiled prawns wrapped in Jamon with a charred corn salsa (*special)

meatballs yucca

Left: Beef Albóndigas (*special)
Right: Yucca Fries with Aioli

Albóndigas were very tender and moist and served with a rich tomato based sauce. The Yucca fries were delightful and matched well to the aioli.


Fried Chicken and Almond Spareribs (another of the nights specials) - way better than anything offered by the colonel. The almonds form part of the chicken's coating which make it wonderfully crunchy, it's also well spiced.

We are then presented with the Racion - these are slightly bigger dishes that are also meant to be shared

beef ribs

Slow cooked Beef Spare Ribs


Mixed Mushrooms with Chorizo - another special


Cheese Plate: Fetta in Olive oil, Red Wine Soaked Cheese, Manchego


Churros to share but only if you have too.

Overall, we enjoyed the dishes on offer and the restaurant has a modern feel, which can be best described as Hawthorn's idea of Brunswick street, minus the ferals. Be warned though that the chairs aren't the most comfortable and all the solid surfaces makes quiet conversation almost impossible.

The details:
798 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Phone: 9818 8321

Monday - Friday: 12pm - 3.30pm and 4.30 - late
Saturday: 5.30pm - late
Sunday: Closed


Friday, July 06, 2007

Dinner @ Fenix

Today was just one of those days, when if something could go wrong it did and it all began with me leaving my keys at home. To soothe our rather frazzled psyche rather than tempt fate in the kitchen we opted for that safe haven that is Fenix.

There has been some change at Fenix but from the dishes we had tonight they are still sailing on the right course.

Smoked Tuna Broth with slivers of scallop and radish and an oyster floating in the middle - always an excellent way to start the evening.

salt cod
Salt Cod with Cod mousse and broken Pistachio cake

Confused might be your first reaction to this dish - Pistachio cake and Salt Cod? But as odd as the combination might sound, it works unbelievably well. The cake is sweet, the mousee is creamy, the salt cod is salty but combined they just balance out. Every taste is intriguing and the wine match was perfect.
The Cod is salted in-house and we enjoyed it's texture and the way it flaked into thick juicy pieces.

Salmon sous-vide at 50°, pink fir potatoes, baby fennel, black sesame seeds and pine nuts.

If only all salmon was this good - soft and succulent it almost dissolves in the mouth.

Slices of Quail breast sitting on a quail broth and beetroot jelly with assorted baby vegetables and a quail egg


One of the true highlights on the night.

Dehydrated Vegetables and Bone Marrow with beetroot dust

Sirloin with oxtail and barley and carotene

I don't know how the carotene is made but it's dangerously good. The sirloin was done perfectly, the oxtail and barley was a mix of rich meat and pleasantly chewy grains.

Candied Cumquat, burnt orange cream and macadamia biscuit - a must have dessert!

It was really interesting hearing the reaction from a nearby table - the conversation changing to appreciative groans.

Broken Frangipane and Olive oil ice-cream with caramelised olives and Corella Pear core

We last had this for my birthday lunch and it's still as good.

Chocolate Clay, Tarragon Marshmallow and Earl Grey Ice Cream

The marshmallow isn't quite as large as it used to be but I think this size is probably more appropriate.
petit fours

I was too slow with the petit fours!

The details:

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

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner