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Friday, May 30, 2008

Dinner @ Koots

We're in a re-visiting mood - this time we're back at Koots. The previous time we were here the Australian open was on!

For starters we opt for classic French bistro fare:

Chicken liver parfait with toasted sourdough and walnut salad

Rabbit terrine with corchicons, caramelised onions and salad

For mains:

0-300520081444.jpg 0-300520081445.jpg

Paalo has the 400 gram aged beef rib eye with pommes cocottes, bordelaise sauce and bone marrow - a very generous serving of both rib eye and bone marrow.


Roasted venison loin with a sweet corn flan, brussel sprout and lardon sauté, raspberry gastrique - there's a lovely sweetness in both the flan and the gastrique that just works well with the venison.

We probably didn't need dessert but we found some lighter options on the menu:

Panna cotta with coconut ice-cream


Pain perdu of brioche and pistachio with roasted pear

Food, wine and service are all consistently good and our positive impression continues.

The details:
479 Glenferrie Road
Phone: 9822 3809

Lunch: Tuesday - Friday
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lunch @ Enoteca Sileno

We're back for Sunday Lunch at Enoteca Sileno and the menu has definitely taken on a more wintery mood

We begin with a selection of assaggini

Chef special of the day - from left to right - polenta taragna with braised mushrooms and shaved parmesan, oxtail pie, grilled calamari and cannellini bean salad

the inside of the delicious oxtail pie

Baked marrowbone - a rarity on menus these days

Polpettini di manzo con polenta e parmigiano - traditional beef meatballs with soft polenta and shaved parmesan - I found this dish to be under-salted which is something I rarely say.

For mains:

I have the Cavolo Nero and Ricotta gnocchi served with a pork ragu - quite different to potato gnocchi, much firmer texture but still very enjoyable.

Paalo has the Mushroom Risotto with grilled quail and pancetta - Paalo finds the risotto bland and in need of salt.

Unlike our previous meals here, service was slack with wine glasses on empty a few times during the meal.

Cheese course - tallegio and testun di capra served with roasted almonds, dried figs and apricots, sliced pear, quince paste and toasted bread.

Onto desserts:

I have the Zuppa Inglese (Italian style trifle with sponge, rum, zibibbo vino liquoroso, chocolate and vanilla cream) which looks nothing like the version my mother makes but that isn't surprising. It is still quite delicious.

Paalo has the apple tart served with a coffee cream.

The details:

Enoteca Sileno

920 Lygon Street, Carlton
corner of Lygon and Richardson Streets
Phone: 03 9389 7070

Monday: 8am - 4pm
Tuesday - Saturday: 8am - Late
Sunday: 9am - 5pm


Monday, May 19, 2008

Dinner @ Cafe Latte

I can't believe it was early February when we last dined here so we are well overdue for another visit. The restaurant is quite dimly lit so the photos are very grainy.

For starters:
Paalo has the Fungi di Bosco al Cartoccio - Sauteed forest mushrooms wrapped in parchment. A wonderful dish, the aromas perfectly captured by the parchment package.

I have the Antipasto platter - prosciutto, marinated olives, frittata, arancino, marinated anchovies

For mains:
Paalo has the Lombo di Cervo con Polenta Barese - Loin of venison served with polenta and meat jus

I have the Galletto con Finocchio e Asparagi - Pan roasted spatchcock with fennel and asparagus.

Onto desserts:

Paalo has the Crostata di fragola e mascarpone - caramelised strawberry and mascarpone tart with red wine syrup.

and I enjoyed it so much the last time that I have the Sfogliata di Mela again - apple and cinnamon gallette with vanilla anglaise

Even with the restaurant fully booked, the service and atmosphere was much improved from our last visit.

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

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


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lunch @ Della Nonna

We're still in an experimental mood even after our breakfast experience. We decide to dip our toes in at Della Nonna.

Della Nonna is a world away from it's previous incarnation as the Courtyard Deli. It certainly looks like the new owners basically gutted the place and have moved it from the 1970's to become a stylish modern cafe - complete with wood burning pizza oven.

We start with some of the meat-stuffed Olives


hot, crisp, salty, meaty - they tick the boxes to get your appetite going.

We decide to test out the pizza


Paalo opts for the prosciutto - on a cooked tomato base, freshly sliced prosciutto, rocket and shaved parmesan are draped over the hot pizza topped with a final drizzle of olive oil before it's bought to the table


I order the Pizza Bianco - white pizza with mushrooms.

We are pretty impressed with both pizzas - the bases are lovely and thin, perfect for folding and certainly do remind up of those we enjoyed in Italy.

The details:

Della Nonna
844 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

Phone: 9819 6444


Lunch: Wednesday - Saturday Noon-2.30pm
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 6pm - 10pm; Friday - Saturday 6pm - 10.30pm

Breakfast @ Porgie and Mr Jones

We stumbled upon this place on the way back from the farmers' market and from the outside it certainly looked like it would be an interesting place for breakfast. It's funky interior is more Fitzroy than staid Hawthorn, while the menu sounded rather appetising.

Unfortunately, looks were deceiving.

When we first arrived, we were one of a spattering of customers but within half an hour chaos ensured and any notion of service evaporated.

I'm not going to put the whole blame on the cafe, a lot of it is on the customers and their belief that they are somehow entitled to a table - you certainly don't come in as a party of 10 and cop an attitude if they can't fit you in. I don't really enjoy have three hawthorn dames standing and staring over me, willing us to get out. This is not conducive to enjoying breakfast though in the case of the food I received, I wasn't that eager to eat it.

Paalo had the omelette (actually it's the scrambled eggs) with goat cheese - the goat cheese seemed to have pooled into one spot - it was passable.

I had the poached eggs with "smashed avocado". Unfortunately, my avocado was smashed in a rather unappetising manner

the top was rotten and there were rather awful spots on both the outside and inside. I really don't know how that avocado ever made it out of the kitchen - that just is not acceptable. The eggs tasted heavily of vinegar and one was hard and the other barely soft.

I would have made mention of this to the wait staff but they never came back to our table so we left - our table grabbed by the evil-eyed Dames.

I'm not going to write this place off based on this visit but we both agree, we'll certainly avoid it on weekends. It will be interesting to see how it functions during the week.

The details:
Porgie and Mr Jones
291 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

Open: Daily 8am - 4.30pm

Porgie and Mr Jones on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dinner @ Church St Enoteca

We're back at Church Street Enoteca and there's been a few new additions to the menu.

As we enjoyed these so much last time,

zucchini flowers
we begin with a serving of the deep-fried Zucchini flowers to share.

For starters we both select one of the specials of the day

Four Raw Tastes

Tuna and Garfish

Cold Smoked Trout and Scallop with Parsley Puree

For mains:

Paalo feasts on Rabbit - scallop stuffed Rabbit loin, rabbit pie, Rabbit leg, served with peas and carrots

I have the Grilled Wagyu with Forest Mushrooms and Nicola Mash

served beautifully rare.  The beef was extraordinarily tasty and perfectly complimented by the dense sauce.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the sauces here are always impressive.

Onto desserts:


I have the freshly filled Cannolo with poached rhubarb and pistachio

Paalo falls under the spell of the Coconut Panna Cotta with mandarin.

For those after a good lunch deal, Church St Enoteca will be offering from May 21st a special 2 or 3 course limited menu lunch for either $21.50 (for 2 courses) or $28.50 (for 3).

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


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lunch @ Babble on Babylon

Babble on Babylon is one of our favourite lunch spots so it's been a bit remiss of us not to post their offerings.

Beef and Stout Pie with Vegetables - this is a must order for Paalo if its on the menu.

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas - beware the Voodoo Sauce, it's super spicy!

The details

Babble on Babylon
85 Brighton Road, Elwood
Phone: 03 9532 4211

Open: Wednesday - Sunday: Breakfast/Lunch

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dinner @ Interlude

As I was sipping my coffee at Prahran Market this morning it suddenly dawned on me what day it was. As I started the mental arithmetic I realised it was indeed something to celebrate. The problem would be finding some place special at the last minute on a Friday Night.

Perhaps there is something very special about this number as my long shot came through and I managed to get a booking at Interlude.

We began our evening with glasses of Champagne Jacquesson and


nibbled on the malt vinegar chips with salt and vinegar dipping foam and beer-flavoured nuts.

It didn't take us long to decide on the Chef's Dégustation with matching wines.

Alphabet Soup
Wine: 2006 VDP Cuilliron "Lybel' Syrah Rose, Northern Rhone, France

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, the word Interlude look up at you from the bottom of the bowl. The broth, with a deliciously rich tomato aroma and flavour is poured at the table. The letters rise and float about on the surface and to my great surprise I managed to spell something rude


Snail Trail; Mushroom, Parsley, Garlic
Wine: 2005 Rías Baixas, Albarino Palacio e Fefinanes, Galicia, Spain

This is the dish we enjoyed during Monday's dinner but now you can see it a lot better!

On their journey along the plate the snails have nibbled on the vegetables in their path. The sauce trails, from left to right, are garlic, parsley and butter - I especially enjoy the garlic sauce. The mushroom meringue shells are especially light and soft, almost disappearing in the heat of your mouth. The snail at the right has run head long into mushroom air while the middle is just short of meeting a little pickled vegetables.

Mulloway, Violet, Scallops, Chicory Cake, Malt
Wine: 2001 Gewurztraminer, Trimbach Réserve, Alsace, France

The pan-seared mulloway sits atop a rectangle of chicory sponge cake and is accompanied by caramelised chicory and sticks of treviso radicchio (?) - violet dust brings a pleasant perfume to the dish. The fish is very moist and pleasantly earthy and breaks into large soft flakes. Hiding under the mulloway is a half-seared scallop.

Veal Sweetbreads, Eucalyptus, Rosemary Cookie, Purple Congo Puree
Wine: 2005 Anjou Villages, Château Pierre-Bise "Sur Schistes", Loire Valley, France

This is a new dish and one in which we were asked to give our opinion on. Paalo and I disagreed on one thing and that was the intensity of the Eucalyptus foam - I thought it was a little overpowering whereas he thought it was just right. We both agreed that this was the best sweetbread we'd tasted. The dish itself was quite sweet - caramelised almond skins and the rosemary cookie but it was fascinating to see how well these flavours combined with the sweetbread itself. It's surprises like this that makes going out all the more interesting.

Lobster, Coconut, Lobster Consommé
Wine: Lethbridge "Allegra" Chardonnay, Geelong, Victoria

The lobster consomme is poured at the table

4 litres of lobster stock is reduced to just 750ml - I need not explain just how wonderful this consomme was.

It is served with lobster crackers - and that orange parcel resting on the lobster pieces is a coconut jelly filled carrot raviolo - the carrot skin is itself is an ultra thin jelly sheet.

Something Fun

I don't know why it is but you can be guaranteed that grown men will behave like 9 year old boys when offered this dish - Paalo excluded.

Inside the tube from right to left is cauliflower puree, caviar, apple sauce and chervil jelly and you simply inhale from the cauliflower end.

Roast Chicken, Roast Egg, Leek
Wine: 2006 Kelvedon Pinot Noir, East Coast Tasmania

It's a faux egg and it's filled with what I can describe as roasted chicken juices - cut the white and the juices run out like a perfectly soft poached egg.
The chicken ball is simply chicken breast - shaped in this manner to facilitate even cooking and it is served with black pudding puree - the puree is like a thick, spicy gravy, delicious with the chicken.

Bacon and Eggs
Wine: NV Lustau Dry Amontillado "Los Arcos", Jerez, Spain

I can't tell you how much I love these slow cooked eggs and all that's missing are chunky toast fingers to mop up that luscious yolk. The eggs are served in a bacon broth with puffed wild rice and a wafer thin slice of crisp bacon.

Wagyu Sirloin, Horseradish, Roasted Onion Puree, Potato Croquette
Wine: 2006 Marchese di Gresy Martinenga Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy

Stuffed inside the cylinder of potato croquette was braised oxtail - the paler dots on the plate are horseradish cream. Wagyu was I think 8+ marble score and a pleasure to eat - the roasted onion puree providing the thread to pull the dish together.

Almond, Rhubarb, Celery
Wine: 2006 Konrad 'Sgrun' Noble Riesling, Marlbourough, NZ

Almond milk, Almond Financiers, Rhubarb Jelly, sliced celery and coriander leaves. A very pleasant way to begin the transition from savoury to sweet.

Semolina, Blueberries, Cashew
2005 Yarra Valley Viognier Serrat, Victoria

Halved blueberries intertwined with Semolina Cream, roasted Cashews and Muscovado sugar.

Date, Ginger, Milk, Rapadura Sugar
2005 Moscatel Fusta Nova, Valencia, Spain

At the centre, reduced milk ice-cream and on each side a mix of date pudding and ginger beer jelly. Topped with rapadura sugar and crushed chocolate biscuits.

Apple, Mint, Raspberry, Sour Cream
Wine: Dr Loosen "Urziger Würzgarten" Auslese Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany

To end the meal, a dish with light and refreshing flavours - the mint ice cream works as a cleanser.

To finish with coffee - petit fours
salt and vinegar chocolate sticks, balsamic meringues, chocolate coated griottines, salted caramel


A fascinating meal in which it's almost impossible to pick a favourite - the pacing was spot on giving you enough time to enjoy both the food and wine and chat. The service is also attentive without being intrusive.

To finish, we are given the menu to take home - that is a very nice touch and we are treated to another sampling of Pierre's Chocolate and Coconut Pudding.

If you want to see how the pudding turns out look here.

The details:

211 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Phone: 9415 7300

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