Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dinner @ Maris

It's hard for me not to think of Frasier when dining at Maris but once you eliminate that connection, you'll find yourself in a rather compact restaurant located in the less salubrious end of Glenferrie road.


Paalo wasn't too impressed with the bread chicken but the bread itself was excellent as was the olive dip served alongside. The wine we selected was a 2004 Monte Antico, a sangiovese blend from Tuscany.

bread wine

For starters


Paalo had the grilled tongue served with a slow cooked egg, salted caramel, cauliflower puree. This was a dish that certainly had us reminiscing about Fenix.


I had the quail dumplings with almond cream and flaked almonds - it may not be very photogenic but it certainly was tasty. At the base of the dish is a surprise of spherisized stock.

For mains:


I had the beef fillet - cooked rare served with sauteed mushrooms, egg and cabbage. One of the more perfectly pieces of beef I've had - wonderfully tender with excellent flavour.


Paalo had the suckling pig with smoked beetroot and apple cubes -the pork was tender, the crackling appropriately crunchy. The smoked beetroot were particularly good.

Just because we can - we try the cheese platter


4 cheeses served with an excellent assortment of breads and crackers.

We probably didn't need dessert and on second thoughts, one would have been more than enough for the two of us

0-280220081148.jpg 0-280220081149.jpg

Left: Mango Meringue with Sheep Milk Ice cream
Right: Panna Cotta with stewed fruits, crostoli and almond biscotti

The details:
15 Glenferrie Road, Malvern
Phone: 9500 0665

Lunch: Tuesday - Friday
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dinner @ The Grand

The Grand is another one of those places we've somehow managed never to visit regardless of the fact that it's a place we've wanted to try. It may have taken a few years but we finally got there.

Finding a parking spot around here isn't that easy so come early in case you have to drive around hunting for one.


It's the revenge of those uncomfortable bentwood chairs again.

bread and olives

Between the menu and the daily specials it took a while to settle on something to eat - way too many things sounded delcious.

Picking a wine was a little easier - we settled for this 2001 Strozzi Sodole from San Gimigiano


For starters:

I have the Pizzoccheri - the traditional Valtellina style buckwheat pasta with savoy cabbage, potato and taleggio served with brown butter, garlic and sage ($18)

I loved this dish - The taleggio has melted to just glaze the pasta, there's a light studding of just boiled cubes of potato and barely braised cabbage. Crisp sage and brown butter round the dish off wonderfully.

Paalo has the Vitello Tonnato - poached baby veal with tuna and anchovy sauce

It's hard to make this dish look "pretty" but it certainly was very tasty.

For Mains:

I have one of the specials - half boned pigeon with a pork and veal stuffing served with parmesan risotto and blackberries.

The risotto was excellent - beautifully creamy and the rice was actually cooked correctly. None of those crunchy grains or chalky texture that you get in so many faux risottos.
The pigeon meat was excellent - strongly flavoured yet tender, some almost pate like. The stuffing was moist with a surprisingly light texture.

Paalo had the Rabbit of the Day - rabbit wrapped in pancetta and grilled served with a panzanella salad.

The only complaint was that the bread in the panzanella was just way too hard - they hadn't been allowed to soak enough in the dressing so were more like jawbreakers.

Dessert was easy - we both ordered this


Italian Doughnuts filled with pistachio ice cream served with baked oranges ($12) - an extremely satisfying end to the meal.

We've both been suitably impressed and look forward to returning.

The details:
The Grand
335 Burnley Street, Richmond
Phone: 9429 2530

Open: 7 days, noon-3pm and 6pm-10pm


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lunch @ La Luna Bistro

As we were nearby adding another tripod to my ever growing collection we've taken the opportunity to revisit La Luna - it has been way too long between visits and it's undergone some redecoration - unfortunately those uncomfortable bentwood chairs are still there.



I really love the cow over the bar - there are more of these types of drawings along the stairs. In the upstairs rooms, you'll find cow hide print wallpaper completing the theme.


If you could read that chalkboard, you'd know that you can now buy La Luna's 8-week dry aged beef to take home.

We started as we did last time with the hand cured meat plate ($17.50):

served with olives, toasted and fresh breads.

A tasty way to get those taste buds working.

For mains:


I have the House made cotechino grilled with garlic buttered onions and mushrooms (17.50)

This is only a starter size and I could have had it larger but as cotechino can be very filling I thought it best to stick with the smaller serve.

How wrong was I! The grilling totally transformed the cotechino and I could have gladly eaten more of it - it's probably the best cotechino I've ever eaten.


Paalo chose the Char grilled Aged Eye fillet served with mash, roasted swiss brown mushrooms and red wine jus ($36.50)

It was most unfortunate that somewhere along the line Paalo's rare steak came out on the well-done side. As a testament to the meat even with this overcooking it was still tender and tasty. They were quite happy to cook up another steak without a problem but Paalo decided to stick with this piece.

With the afteroon proving perfect for relaxing, we decided to try the cheese


From left to right:
Roy des Vallees (sheep and goat milk cheese), Rouzaire Coulommiers, Mauri Artavaggio (smaller version of Tallegio), Cashel Blue, Sovrano (hard cooked buffalo milk cheese)


It was served with all this bread, cheese crackers, quince paste and apple slices.

We finished off with the dessert platter which was on the house


From left to right:
Panna Cotta, Lemon Curd Ice Cream, Brownies, Berry Compote, Raspberry Sorbet, Creme Brulee
All very delicious.

The details:
La Luna Bistro
320 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
Phone: 03 9349 4888

Tuesday-Friday: Noon-3pm

Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm-10pm

Saturday-Sunday: 11am-3pm


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dinner @ Rathdowne Tavern

Valentine's Day is probably not the best day for going out to dinner with most places offering limited fixed price deals. So to do things a little differently we are heading out to the Rathdowne Tavern with Elle and Al.

We begin with Pol Roger Rosé


Pink Champagne is oh so Valentine's Day!

For starters we decided to order a few dishes to share

Salami Plate

Spicy Mussels served with a delectable tomato based sauce - this sauce had us all finding bread in which to soak it up. Paalo and Al both thought they were some of the best mussels they've had. It was good to see that the spice was well judged to leave just enough of an impression to make it interesting.

Arancini - perfectly crisp exterior shielding the flavoursome rice.


Platter of breads and grissini - served with olives, roasted red peppers and olive tapenade.

For mains:


Elle had the chicken breast cooked with herbs and tomato and topped with cheese - it's not sulubrious but it was flavoursome and well cooked


Both Al and Paalo had the Sausage served with mashed potatoes and jus - the sausages are made in house and tonight were lamb and rosemary.

I ordered the Pappardelle with Pork and Veal Polpettine which for some odd reason I forgot to take a photo of.

0-140220081111.jpg 0-140220081112.jpg
For sides, we also ordered the sautéed mushrooms and potato gratin though they weren't really needed as the mains were quite filling.

Paalo and Al managed to squeeze in dessert - they both went for the panna cotta

panna cotta

From the outside it may look like a crack house as Elle joked (I think it's more shabby chic) but you couldn't really criticise the interior or the food/wine or service. The food is wonderfully fresh but the prices are just way too cheap! You almost feel guilty eating here.

The details:
Rathdowne Tavern
184 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Phone: 9348 1133

Open: Seven Days - Lunch and Dinner

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dinner @ Zio's Restaurant

It's Elle's birthday and for the first time in a few years she's actually in the country to celebrate it. We'll be joining Elle and Al at a restaurant none of us have visited before.

If we were to judge a restaurant solely on its external appearance you'd be quite happy with Zio's - it's housed in one of the few remaining two storey Victorian terraces in East Melbourne, wedged as it was between high rise and medical suites.

The dining area has been formed by opening up the two original front rooms - their marble fireplaces remain as do many of the Victorian features. The room looks as if it was last renovated in the late 90's - the menu also seems to be of a similar vintage with only the prices and the presence of wagyu the only nod to present days.

One thing we all found odd was just how meat heavy the mains where - none of us could really see the point in offering three different beef dishes as well as lamb, duck and kangaroo.

To keep us company while waiting for our starters we nibbled on garlic bread:


It was good but I can't remember the last time I've seen it on a menu.

For starters:

Birthday girl Elle chose: Pan roasted Ricotta Gnocchi with wilted spinach, chestnut mushrooms and crisp bacon ($17.90)

These were surprisingly good - the gnocchi extremely light and fluffy.

Paalo's choice: Risotto of Toulouse Sausage with baby peas and fresh sage ($18.90)

Once again, it was surprisingly good.

Al's choice: Twice Baked Blue Cheese Soufflé served with white asparagus and prosciutto ($20.90)

My choice: Char-grilled balsamic Vinegar Quail with Sweet corn pancake and a muscat glaze ($20.90)

This was probably the least appealing of the starters - the pancake was flat and just seemed it had been cooked a while ago. The quail also didn't have the taste of something that had been freshly cooked and was overdone and a bit tough.

For mains:

Elle's choice: Oven roasted Lamb Rump (served medium) with roasted pumpkin, ragu of lentils and a lemon thyme reduction ($35.90)

This was quite a large dish and after Elle's fairly large starter most of this was left uneaten.

Paalo's choice: Char-grilled wagyu Scotch Fillet served with mushroom compote, parsnip crisps and café de paris butter ($51.90)

Another large portion of what was a fairly tender piece of scotch.

Al and I both had the same thing: Char-grilled aged grass feed rib eye, flavoured with garlic and rosemary and served with lyonnaise potatoes and pear chutney ($44.90)

Our dishes were similarly large although taste wise they were quite pleasant.

I can't help but think they would be better off shrinking the portion sizes and dropping the prices and adding a bit more variety to the mains.

We didn't have dessert at the restaurant but retreated to Elle's place to sample Al's specially made Brandy Alexander Pie. It was excellent and I should get Al to guest post the recipe on the Cook Blog!

The details:
Zio's Restaurant
14 Lansdowne Street, East Melbourne

Phone: 9419 0252


This should have been a post about a place called Via Verona in Kew however it turned out to be a bit of a sorry affair, not helped when the young female barista burst into tears and ran out the back. So needing a caffeine mix, we've headed to Camberwell to revisit, in my case, Degani.

There's a different barista on duty today and I've noticed that they have removed the words "australian champion barista" from the chalkboard.

The coffee comes out looking much as it did the last time - sans any latte art.

Paalo tries a raspberry muffin

and I have a full serve of their famous sultana bread. Once again these are huge slices - you can also have this served as a single. Two little packets of butter accompany the bread - I'm not a big user of butter on bread but even I thought that wasn't nearly enough. I'm sure they would give you more if asked but I think it would be nicer if they placed at least another one on there at the start.

Considering the size of the dishes served here and how many of them go back to the kitchen only half eaten because they are too big, it seems a bit odd to be so stingy with the butter.

The bread I must say was excellent.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dinner @ Cafe Latte

Cafe Latte seems to have been around forever, in reality it opened its doors in 1992 and for the last few years has positioned itself to specialise in Puglian cuisine. A region of Italy I've yet to visit but would very much like too.

It has been a few years between visits so I'm most eager to see where things are at.

We arrive to quite a lively restaurant and after a bit of table confusion we are seated. After ordering some Prosecco to begin with, we are offered the wine list. 10 minutes elapse before the waiter returns asking if we'd decided on a wine. Apart from having a rather confused look on his face at the question, Paalo then had to ask for the menu.

Hmm. I don't know about you but I kind of like to look at the menu first and work out what I'm going to eat before choosing a wine.

After spending some time with both menus we settle on our order. We decide on a bottle of 2004 Antonelli Sangrantino di Montefalco DOCG - the last time we enjoyed this wine was during our stay in Umbria.

Before we start on the food I must say that the photos are not the best as the light was quite poor for photo taking but fine for dining.


Antipasto della casa ($17.50)
This is a serving for one that we are sharing - on the board we find a vegetable frittata, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, anchovies on rocket, stuffed mushroom, mixed olives, risotto ball

Paalo thought that some of the items could have been served a little warmer than they were.

Next we have pasta

Cavatelli con Ragu di Carne - Cavatelli served with Veal Ragu ($16.50)

Paalo's choice - the ragu was very tender and just fell apart.

Orecchiette con Gamberi e Zucchine - Orecchiette with Prawns and Zucchini ($18.50)

The orecchiette unfortunately were undercooked - I couldn't help but be reminding on an experience in Italy when ordering Pasta, the Chef asked if we wanted it cooked "al dente or correctly." It seems that pasta has gone from being served up like mush to being served up crunchy. Risotto has seemed to have followed this path as well with so many resembling fried rice.

Other than the pasta problem, the rest of dish was fine with a very generous amount of prawns used. If anything, we both thought these pasta dishes were way too big for a starter.

For mains:

Paalo's choice: Scaloppine di Vitello con Asparagi - Pan fried Veal Scaloppine with Lemon, White wine and Asparagus ($32.50)

A bit too much lemon used for Paalo's liking - I thought that that the wine hadn't quite evaporated leaving a sharp taste.


I have the Rotolo di Coniglio con Prosciutto - Rolled Farmed Rabbit stuffed with air cured ham and lemon rind ($34.50)

Tasty but it's always a bit off-putting when you find a piece of bone in the stuffing - it certainly makes you weary of each mouthful.

For dessert

Paalo's choice: Panna Cotta con le Pere - Vanilla Panna Cotta with Poached Pears ($13.50)

One of the better versions - it walks that delciously fine line between solid and liquid with just enough gelatine to have set it.

Sfogliatina con Mele and crème anglais - Puff pastry with apple and crème anglais($13.50)

I wanted something light and this was an ideal dish. Wonderfully crisp pastry presented simply.

We certainly couldn't help but notice that the place is full of regulars and the regulars also seem to know each other. The service towards them was of a different standard to that offered to us. It does pay to be known here. It certainly is worth another visit - if only to enjoy the Sangrantino.

The details:
Cafe Latte
521 Malvern Road, Toorak
Phone: 9826 5846

Mon - Sat: 8am til Late (Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner)
Sun: 9am - 3pm (Brunch)