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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lunch @ Persimmon

When George says you should check out Ray's food at the Gallery, I'm certainly not going to argue - the dodoni in my fridge a testament to his persuasive abilities.

Persimmon is the restaurant located within the National Gallery of Victoria in St. Kilda Road. You have to look hard at the official site to even find mention of it. It's only open during the day (11am-4pm) but anyone can go there.

I think Paalo got a bit misty eyed at the sight of the bread tray - well, more at the sight of the butter, prepared as it was at Fenix.

For starters

Potato, springs around the corner

With such an intriguing description, I just had to order it, plus there are potatoes in it, always a positive.

4 warm potatoes, served whole and with their skin on, watercress and beet leaves, pipped sour cream and a sprinkling of a most interesting combination of flavours. Either demerera or raw caster sugar subtlety sprinkled over the potatoes coupled with a quasi coffee flavoured powder (actually it's a combination of lactose, malt, pumpernickel).

Embers grilled young leek, Gorgonzola, pear, potato

the potato here are thick slices served cold and topped with a whipped Gorgonzola and accompany two tender but warm and perfectly grilled leeks - the pear brings a refreshing, cleansing element to the dish.

While this wasn't the Chapoutier we ordered, the Rasteau was perfectly acceptable.

For mains:

350 grams Rib Eye, Pont Neuf, red wine grain mustard sauce

Cooked rare to order, a lovely tender and tasty piece of beef. The sauce was delightful, a touch of sweetness coming through and just matched so well to the beef.

12 hour braised Victorian Lamb, pommes boulangère

This was a no-brainer for Paalo, it's been too long since he last had Ray's slow braised lamb, though at 12 hours this must be the quick version! It still had the great flavours and texture of it's longer cooked relatives.


Baba au Rhum, winter cole pear purée, burnt honey custard

The burnt honey custard was absolutely divine and the parts of the baba that had been soaked were brilliant - the only problem with this dish was that the baba was not evenly soaked, in fact it was barely soaked.

Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Paalo's brulee was a terrific example of the dish - full of those lovely vanilla bean seeds.

The coffee looks good too!

To be fair, the service left quite a bit to be desired but I'll put up with it for the food. I'd love to try just about every dish on the menu.

The details:

Ground Level
National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road

Daily: 11am-4pm

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dinner @ Felt

Tonight's dinner is a bit different - this time we're having a special degustation.

Roast tomato soup with ham hock and Comté samosa
2007 Milton Chenin Blanc

A really interesting soup - when I think tomato soup I think of something thick and heavy but this was completely different. The flavour was certainly there from the roasted tomatoes but the texture was more delicate and light, it was creamy but not heavy. The samosa had an incredibly moist interior, the ham wonderfully juicy, it teemed well with the Comté.

Green prawn and avocado cocktail; Salmon gravalax, Avruga caviar sauce
2007 Mitchell Watervale Riesling

I absolutely loved the texture of the salmon, sliced thicker than normal, they were so tender to eat - the avruga sauce was well balanced, offering just enough of that salty element from the caviar. The modern prawn cocktail was equally good.

Chicken and Ham hock cannelloni, sweet corn relish, pepper sauce
2003 Domaine Moillard Cotes du Nuits

The cannelloni is filled with a mixed of chicken and ham hock and sits on a bed of sweet corn relish, it's topped with roasted red capsicum and accompanied by a roasted red capsicum sauce. It's quite morish and well balanced.

John Dory wrapped with prosciutto, parsnip purée, red wine jus
2006 Even Keel Chardonnay and 2007 Planeta Rossa la Segreta

Otway pork cutlet, cabbage and apple
2005 Heritage Cabernet Malbec

Beautifully crisp pork crackling sits atop the juicy pork cutlet, the braised cabbage and apple are classic accompaniments.

Romate Pedro Ximenez

Oozy and lovely - perfectly matched with the PX

Dessert Plate - fruit crumble, milk chocolate and orange mousse, berry brulee
2002 Le Tertre du Lys D'or

To finish, a fabulous 3-shot dessert.

Coffee with a smile!

What really stood out for us was just how well balanced this meal was - a skillful hand in the kitchen ensured a delicate touch leaving you completely satisfied. Each course left us sated but looking forward to the next.

The details:

Felt Restaurant at Hotel Lindrum
26 Flinders Street, Melbourne

Phone: 9668 1111

Lunch - Monday to Friday: 12pm to 3pm
Dinner - 7 days

web: Felt Restaurant

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Age Good Food Guide 2009

This years lottery winners are:

"Vittoria" Restaurant of the Year:

Best New Restaurant of the Year:
Bistro Guillame

Chef of the Year:
Frank Camorra (Movida)

Best Country Restaurant of the Year:
Royal Mail Hotel

Best Country New Restaurant of the Year:
Tea Rooms of Yarck

Wait, there's more

Wine list of the Year:
Circa, The Prince

Best Short Wine List:
Ten Minutes by Tractor

Wine Service Award:
Rocco Esposito 

Winery Restaurant of the Year:
Giant Steps

Best Bacchus:
Bar Lourinha

Young Chef of the Year:
Chris Donnellan (Gingerboy) and
Justin Wise (Press Club)

Outstanding Achievement Award:
Con Christopoulos

Service Excellence Award:
Martin Fairhurst (Lake House)

Professional Excellence Award:
Will Studd

Dish of the Year:
Smoke trout broth, crackling, basil seeds and fresh smoke (Attica)

Website of the Year:
Three One Two 


City fashion

3 hats
Jacques Reymond
Vue de Monde (up from 2)

2 hats
Bistro Guillaume (new)
Cafe di Stasio
Circa, the prince
Flower Drum
Grossi Florentino
MoVida (up from 1)
Rockpool Bar and Grill
Taxi Dining Room
Three One Two
Verge (up from 1)

One Hat
Becco (down from 2)
Cecconi's Cantina
Church St Enoteca (new)
Comme Kitchen
Esposito (new)
Estivo (new)
European (new)
Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons (new)
Il Bacaro
Maha (new)
Melbourne wine room
Oyster little bourke
Paladarr Thai Issan (new)
Red emperor
Sarti (new)
Tempura Hajime
The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel
The Court House
The Grand
The Italian (new)
The Press Club (down from 2)

Country style:

2 hats
Lake House
Merrijig Inn (up from 1)
Royal Mail Hotel (new)
Simone's Restaurant

1 hat
Annie Smithers' Bistrot
Bellbrae Harvest (new)
Eleonore's at Chateau Yering (new)
Healesville Hotel
Pettavel winery & restaurant
Royal George Hotel
Tea rooms of Yarck (new)
The Outpost Retreat
Wardens food & wine

After having a day to consider, it is now time for the Paalo Rant (I have rested and now I rant, a rest-o-rant)

Firstly, congratulations to all the winners, yes really, a hat = $ and a lot of these restuarants have to massage egos to get that hat to catch "The Greater Restaurant Tit" (Thank you Matt but you forgot "The Greater Wobbly Booby" of the genus "Restauranti Criticulus")

This year is no different to every other year, it's not so much as who got the hats but who didn't. Last year the de-hatting generated the media hype and this year the picking of blooming poppies is no doubt meant to sell a couple of dead trees. As for the issue of mediocrity, you really couldn't find a better organisation to be judging that.

Naturally I consider that some places have too many hats (In a couple of cases two too many) and there are places that should have more hats. I'm sure that we all can say "If so and so got one hat how come X and Y didn't get any" and frankly I can't be bothered putting out the flames the naming names will create.

What I will say however, is that the judges of the best web site must have been milking those picked poppies, unless the criteria was to pick a site that is designed to make punters go and buy a restaurant guide, in which case they picked the right one.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dinner @ Eleonore's Restaurant

The meal begins with an amuse:

Truffled honey parsnip soup

So simple but yet so utterly delightful. The truffle brings back instant memories of the truffle lunch enjoyed here just last month (the truffle butter on the table helps too!)


My dish: Warm Salad of Smoked Blue-Fin Tuna Belly, Jamón Ibérico, Japanese Egg Custard, Ruby Grapefruit vinaigrette

We enjoyed a version of this at the truffle lunch, three ultra thin slices of smoked blue fin tuna belly lay across the plate onto which a rectangle of egg custard is placed. Jamon is draped over the simple leaf salad. The egg custard is at the perfect junction of solid and liquid and works to extend and surround the various tastes and textures of the dish.

Paalo choice: Tataki of Wagyu, Wasabi Panna Cotta, crisp sushi rice, black bean vinaigrette, beer air


Well worth a second photo to focus on those beautiful slices of wagyu. A masterful combination.

For Mains:

My dish: Boned & Roasted Pigeon, Foie gras farce, truffle linguini, beetroot fondant, sauce perigold

I couldn't go past the sauce perigold and when it came with pigeon and truffle linguini, my decision was set. The pigeon was served pink, tender and moist and each boned half was filled with a truffle and foie gras farce. A tight roll of truffle linguini sat between the two halves. 

Paalo's dish: Slow-cooked Olive crusted loin of lamb, lambs fry and onion pie, carrot purée, rosemary jus


Paalo was immediately drawn to the notion of  "lambs fry pie". Beautifully pink lamb loin, velvety purées of roasted onion and carrot, drizzled with a sticky rosemary jus.

For sides:


Gratin Dauphinois Potatoes with an extra treat, they are truffled.

Pre-dessert: Coconut semifreddo and mango sorbet

For desserts:

Warm Apple Soufflé, Calvados bruleé, apple and vanilla compote, honey and cinnamon ice-cream

I was seeking something light so went for the soufflé. The calvados brulée takes the form of a long tube with cylinders of dried apple placed across it. The apple compote is pleasantly tart a welcome contrast to the honey and cinnamon icecream.

Pear and Mascarpone Tart, Poire William Anglaise, Quince filo parcel, rhubarb foam, ginger ice-cream

At the top of the plate is a generous slice of the pear and mascarpone tart, in front of it is the rhubarb foam. To the left is a small quince filled filo parcel and to the right, topped with a delicate toffee swirl is the ginger ice-cream.

To finish, petit fours with coffee.

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


Lunch @ 3777

It's our anniversary on Sunday so we've headed off to the Yarra Valley for a weekend escape. For lunch, we stopped by Mt Rael to try out their restaurant, 3777.

3777© by Haalo

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taste of Melbourne 2008


Taste of Melbourne was one event that we had second, third and fourth thoughts about attending. Would it be like those horrible "Good Food Shows" full of a shuffling throng armed with shopping trolleys to carry their free tastings?

We finally decided we shouldn't just judge without actually seeing it for ourselves and on consulting the timetable decided to visit the first session on Friday.

One thing it certainly had working for it was the choice of location

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dinner @ Svago

Svago is a recently opened Italian restaurant in what used to be Baraka in High Street, Kew and what intrigued me when I first heard about it was that all the dishes are made to be shared - there's none of that entrée/main demarcation.

We order 3 of the small dishes to begin with

Svago Bruschetta plate - ocean trout with goat cheese, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato, basil & rocket pesto and cured tuna - an excellent assortment that offers exciting choices.


Baccalà Mantecato with potato foam and Parmigiano cylinder - the baccalà was as good as we'd had in Venice, though we shared it, we each could have happily eaten one all to ourselves.


Zeppole of Whitefish - whitefish fritters - though fried they retained no excess oil, light and fluffy and absolutely morish.

We are enjoying these dishes with an all too easy to drink 2004 Monte Antico Sangiovese blend

Next are 3 of the larger dishes


At the front to the left

porchetta - rolled and stuffed with herbs it comes sliced and served with grilled bread.

next to it on the right
are these fritters of pasta frittata - crumbed and fried, these golden cubes contain an interesting mix of pasta and vegetable.

and at the top
grilled scamorza cheese served with minty zucchini slices - a winning combination of smokey, chewy cheese.

There's no real issue of ordering more food as you go along so we opted from another two dishes - one from each section of the menu

to the left is a cured kingfish and the right, Neapolitan rice balls in a rich tomato concasse

We finished off with desserts:


rhum baba on left and an unusual looking cannolo on the right - both dishes were extremely light, the rhum baba had a cloud like consistency while the case of the cannolo was wafer thin.

We both left here with huge smiles on our faces - it is exceptional Italian food that doesn't rely on cliche. It's the type of food you would find in Italy and for a while you can pretend that you are - the only thing that is missing is a tv in the corner showing soccer. It's lovely to hear Italian spoken and Paalo always gets a kick from asking for "il conto."

I hope the locals realize that they have a gem in their backyards.

The details:
285-287 High Street, Kew

Phone: 9855 0505

Lunch: Thursday - Friday 12pm - 2.30pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday 6pm - 11pm

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lunch @ The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel

Having emerged from the Cheese Show around 12 we headed downstairs to check out the dining options at Crown. It boiled down to two - The Brasserie or Bistro Guilliame and obviously, The Brasserie won out.

It's a large, light and airy space located at a suitably far enough distance that you aren't distracted by the constant tinkling of the poker machines.


good, chewy, crusty rolls, warm from the oil is served alongside


olive oil and a house-made dukkah.

The menu is quite large with an abundance of interesting dishes we finally settle on the following:

For starters

Carpaccio of Wagyu tenderloin, porcini and walnut vinaigrette, celeriac and fruits julienne

A pleasure from the first bite to the last - the wagyu is so soft it falls apart, the flavour works well with the earthy porcini.

The Brasserie's assorted duck charcuterie with duck foie gras
Drink: 2005 Six Acres Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley

This dish can be ordered with or without the foie gras but that wasn't an option for Paalo - going clockwise from the glass which contains duck rillettes we have, duck sausage, duck prosciutto, duck liver pate, duck tartare, slice of foie gras and in the centre duck ravioli.

Paalo very generously offered me tastings of each and I would have to agree with his assessment, it's very hard to actually pick a favourite.

Onto mains:

Duet of roasted duck breast and braised leg with beetroot
Drink: 2005 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Rouge, Burgundy

It's my turn  for some duck - pink roasted duck breast sitting atop a braised leg and served with a rich lacquer like jus.

Pork hock stuffed with pork sausage on braised lentils

Paalo ordered one of the specials - the most amazing dish of pork hock - you could almost eat it with a spoon it was just that gelatinous. 

For sides we order:

Well crusted Potato Gratin

Sautéed mushrooms with Parisienne gnocchi

Because it has been such an enjoyable afternoon, we finish off with

The Brasserie's Dessert Tasting Plate - there's pistachio ice-cream, raspberry sorbet, chocolate cake, rum baba, apple tart, coffee pannacotta and brioche.

I think we can safely say that there is one very good reason to visit the Crown complex and it's The Brasserie.

The details:

The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel
Riverside at Crown

7 days - Lunch and Dinner

web: The Brasserie