Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lunch @ Il Bacaro

A trip to the city is a good excuse to make time to visit Il Bacaro.

We begin with the bruschetta of the day:

il bacaro© by Haalo
Bruschetta with pumpkin goat cheese and walnuts

Toasted bread topped with a creamy puree of sweet pumpkin, topped with crisp roasted walnuts and goat cheese.

For starters:

il bacaro© by Haalo
Quail broth with quail stuffed cannelloni

A rather fuzzy photo of a rather good dish - clear quail broth, served simply with micro herbs and a quail stuffed cannelloni

il bacaro© by Haalo
Wagyu carpaccio, Sicilian anchovies and parmesan

We've enjoyed variations of this dish in the past and as usual, a tasty example of carpaccio

For mains:

il bacaro© by Haalo
Pork cutlet and belly

il bacaro© by Haalo
Orecchietti with buffalo ragu

For desserts:

il bacaro© by Haalo
Rhubarb ricotta crumble with prickly pear sorbet

It's a welcome return to the crumble, this time it is partnered with prickly pear sorbet

il bacaro© by Haalo
Peanut semifreddo, caramel poached pear, aerated chocolate

With this combination of flavours and textures you can't go wrong.


Il Bàcaro
168 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

9654 6778


Monday-Saturday: Noon - 3pm
Monday-Thursday: 6pm - 10.30pm
Friday-Saturday: 6pm - 11pm



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dinner @ Cutler and Co

We're joining Elle and Al for a double feature tonight - dinner at Cutler & Co followed by Star Trek. By the end of the evening we've found the answer to the following question: What's the difference between the new Star Trek movie and Cutler and Co? One is over-hyped and over-rated and the other is a Star Trek movie.

I know some people can be very sensitive about what they read, especially when it is of a place they are attached to. If you are one of these people I suggest you stop reading now to spare yourself the aggravation. If you decide to ignore this warning and then feel the need to vent your spleens by leaving anonymous abusive comments, realise one thing, you are not anonymous.

With that said, let me continue with our experience.

We have all been looking forward to trying out Cutler and Co and finally an opportunity arose. We have an early booking for dinner before the movie. We want to leave by 8pm and the restaurant wants us to leave by 8pm.

Cutler & Co is divided into three spaces, the large front bar, the elegant middle section and Siberia an area between the toilets and the back alley. Perhaps it was a product of this location but managing to catch the attention of flittering staff proved to be a problem. As we sat there with menus closed, heads craning like meerkats on the watch, it was only through chance that we finally got to order our wine.

An added bonus of this location is that while you dine you will serenaded by the sounds of bins being wheeled down the lane.

After another wait followed by the set spiel on the up-selling of entrees and mains that take more than an hour to cook we did manage to order.


Cutler & Co© by Haalo
Scallop with Jerusalem artichoke soup, almond foam - the soup is poured at the table

Cutler & Co© by Haalo
tuna with horseradish "snow" - the lovely pale slices to the right are tuna belly and to the left are slices of regular tuna. While it looks very pretty, this did not work - the horseradish snow was so overpowering you couldn't taste the tuna let alone appreciate its texture.


Cutler & Co© by Haalo

Our table ordered two servings of this pork belly and it was amusing that it came out in what could only be described as his and hers sized servings. While I can understand that servings can't be identical when there's such a disparity you can only look quizzically and laugh.

Cutler & Co© by Haalo

a plate of duck bits and pieces

Cutler & Co© by Haalo

Mushroom tart with burrata. It's hard to actually fathom how so many things are wrong with this dish.

It's obvious we don't mind deconstructed food but this is a dish that needed quotation marks around the word tart. Those two shards are the tart although there was one other piece, a stodgy soaked segment resting in the middle of the mushrooms, the taste and texture of tepid cardboard.

The burrata was mysteriously warm on the top, the mushroom at the top of the pile had one side warm and the other side going from cold to tepid - had it been sitting underneath a heating lamp?

The plate had no heat in it and those mushrooms found resting against the plate were cold. Call it quirky but nothing puts us off food quicker than having it served at these uneven temperatures.

From food to service:
We'd ordered two bottles of wine and while they were initially poured no-one returned to top up. It was left to us to ask for our wine, to which the waiter replied, that it was all gone but they would check. Needless to say he returned with said bottles that mysteriously still had wine in them.

We were also left wondering at the sight of a waiter being pulled by the elbow from our table as they were setting down our side dishes. I don't know, if the waiter is doing something wrong, take them aside and fix it, you just don't physically drag them away.


Cutler & Co© by Haalo
The famous Ice cream sandwich with salted caramel - besides having an amusing resemblance to a "snot block" there really wasn't anything stunning about this - the much lauded salted caramel seemed to be missing the salt. The effect was a rather too sweet dessert.

Cutler & Co© by Haalo

lemon cake

Cutler & Co© by Haalo

pear and suet pudding

When it came to bill time, like most of the evening, it was up to us to fetch it - after all, we needed to leave at 8 and supposedly they wanted us gone too but if it was up to the staff, we would probably still be waiting for it. On the way out it was also interesting to note that there were two vacant tables for 4 in the middle section as well as other tables in our section.

For a place that has been so lauded and for a place we'd all been positive about, the evening left us all reluctant to return. Actually, I can pretty much say that we would not go back to the restaurant, there are far better places with far better food to visit.

The details:

Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude Street

Phone: 9419 4888

Tuesday - Sunday: Dinner from 6pm
Friday: Lunch from 12pm
Sunday: Lunch from 12pm

Tuesday to Sunday - 4pm to midnight


There is one thing worse than the food, it has to be the website.

Cutler & Co on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lunch @ Wildflower

It's almost been a year and half since we last visited Wildflower, unbelievable how quickly time has passed - time to correct that situation.

When we discovered that Degustation is available for lunch our choice was simple.

Wildflower© by Haalo

To begin:

Wildflower© by Haalo

An amuse of a seafood bisque with Spanish rice - the fresh flavour of lemon provides a cleansing appeal

Wildflower© by Haalo

Grilled Pont l'Évêque tart with bacon, crispy pancetta and balsamic shallots

Wildflower© by Haalo

Crystal Bay Prawns, lemongrass, chinese cabbage salad, marinated cuttlefish, thai basil, crispy shallots

Wildflower© by Haalo

Cassoulet of Duck, duck sausage and pork belly

Wildflower© by Haalo

Pan fried Hapuka, braised peas and mushrooms


Yoghurt Sorbet

Wildflower© by Haalo

Squab - stuffed leg and braised breast

Dessert comes as plate to share:

Wildflower© by Haalo

Passion fruit sorbet, Sweetened condensed milk ice cream, Coconut baked Alaska, Mandarin tart, Soft-centered chocolate and hazelnut pudding, White chocolate mousse

The details:

1 Theatre Place

Phone: 03 9888 6662

Tuesday - Saturday: noon-2.30pm and 6.30-9.30pm;
Sunday: 9am+


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dinner @ The Deanery

As soon as I received the mail that Pierre and Robin were together again at The Deanery and doing degustation, my first reaction was to pick up the phone and make an immediate booking.

The Deanery© by Haalo

The Deanery is located at the end of a little lane off Flinders lane. The ground floor is home to the wine bar while the upper level houses the restaurant - large windows give you views of the wine storage area. It shares a similar problem to The Undertaker - the noise from lively patrons travels unimpeded into the dining area somewhat diminishing the dining environment.

We begin our meal with bread

The Deanery© by Haalo
we are offered a generous selection, pumpkin & saffron, mixed grain, sage & pancetta

First Course:

The Deanery© by Haalo
Minestrone Soup

This comes to the table without the broth. At the centre of the plate is a striped pillow stuffed with the finest dice of vegetables I've ever seen. As the broth is poured, the heat dissolves the pillow, leaving just the white strips behind.

Second Course:

The Deanery© by Haalo
scallops, herb risotto, violet

Those crisp fingers atop the dish are caramelised endive if my memory serves me right. The combination of violet foam, sweet scallops and creamy risotto is thoroughly enjoyable.

Third Course:

The Deanery© by Haalo
squab, chestnut, pear, rosemary

The texture of the squab was striking - it had an almost pâté like feel. I don't think you could actually improve it, it was sublime.

Fourth course:

The Deanery© by Haalo
mutton, parsnip, tonka beans, balsamic, salsify

When I think of mutton I think of something old and tough with an unpleasant odour. It's not something I would order but the reason I enjoy degustation so much is that it forces us to try things outside of our norm.
My thoughts on mutton have to be reconsidered - the aroma is gone, the meat is tender and I'd call it, delicately flavoured.

Fifth Course:

The Deanery© by Haalo
blackberry, eucalyptus, yoghurt

this is the type of dessert where you a take a bite and discover a new flavour or texture or temperature, there's always something going on.

There are soft jellies and chewable jellies, tiny violet flavour rocks, berry flavoured sponges and a hint of eucalyptus that cleans and clears.

Sixth Course:

The Deanery© by Haalo
coffee, treacle, basil, banana

To finish:

The Deanery© by Haalo
salted caramel, griottines, roasted almond

Since we've visited a Desert Degustation has been added (3 courses/$35pp or 5 courses/$50pp) and I'm sure we'll soon be returning.

The details:

The Deanery
13 Bligh Place

Phone: 9629 5599

Monday-Friday from 12pm
Saturday from 6pm
Sunday closed


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dinner @ Momo Restaurant

We have finally managed to snag a booking. After months of trying, a spur of a moment phone call and we are in.

momo© by Haalo

What strikes me at first is a sense of generosity - a generosity of space, from the large tables and very comfortable chairs to the fact that they have resisted the temptation to cram as many people as physically possible into the space. You can enjoy the luxury of feeling at ease and that sense of generosity continues with the food.

Menu wise there are three degustation options - a la carte is only available from Tuesday to Thursday so keep that in mind.

First degustation is $100 which allows you to choose two entrée dishes, two main dishes and two sides, desserts are also included.

The second degustation is $140 and you get all four entrée dishes, two main dishes, all sides and desserts. There is also a third degustation that requires 72 hours notice, it begins at $140 and will be designed for you by Greg Malouf.

We decided on the second degustation and began with glasses of Perrier-Jouët Champagne

momo© by Haalo
An interesting way to begin - a selection of fantastically fresh and crisp vegetables and herbs, sprinkled with a little sumac and served with olive oil dashed with pomegranate molasses and tiny round flatbreads. You can't pull this off without having impeccable produce.

First course:

momo© by Haalo

The two dishes are silver served (as are all subsequent savoury courses) at the table which I think is really a lovely touch.

On the left: Ras el Hanout King Prawns with orzo pasta alla carbonara, crab and preserved lime
On the right: Avocado fattouche with very rare salmon, cooked gently with olive oil and fragrant spices

Every bit of the prawn is delicious, perfectly cooked so that all the shell can be enjoyed.
The salmon is so tender that it slices with the faintest amount of pressure.

Second Course:

momo restaurant© by Haalo

Left: Musakhan, spicy quail baked in mountain bread, with chickpeas and melting shallots
Right: An entree special of the day - Cotechino stuffed pig trotter served with a fine salad

The quail comes to the table as a whole pie - inside it's been generously stuffed with succulent quail.

The trotter is served as a thick slice - stuffed simply with Cotechino.

Third Course:

momo© by Haalo

Our first main selection is a special of the day - stuffed garfish in parmesan crust

momo© by Haalo

and it's served with two of the side dishes:
left: young romaine and radicchio salad with preserved lime-Caesar dressing
right: chilled vine tomato salad with tarragon, shankleesh, sumac and lemon dressing

Fourth Course:

momo© by Haalo

Our next main is the Pigeon Bistayeea with Lebanese-style white cabbage salad

momo© by Haalo momo© by Haalo

and it is served with
left: nicola potatoes, baby beets and zucchini gratinéed with cumin Gruyere
right: creamed feta spinach with Turkish pepper


momo© by Haalo

meringue chimney filled with white chocolate mousse on red wine/plum jelly - date crème brûlée with mastic toffee - pear baklava

momo© by Haalo

fresh and dried autumn fruits with prickly pear sorbet

momo© by Haalo

We're both in agreement, we are seriously impressed with tonight's meal - from the food to the wine to the service you couldn't really ask for more. All we have to do now is try to get another booking!

The details:

Momo Restaurant
Lower Plaza Level
123 Collins Street

Phone: 9650 0660

Open: Dinner Only - Tuesday to Saturday


Momo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Lunch @ Sotano Wine and Tapas Bar

With Mother's Day tomorrow, we can pretty much forget about going anywhere for lunch so we've gone out today.

Our first choice was booked out so we took a chance on some place different - the very new Hilton South Wharf and their Spanish Tapas and Wine Bar called Sotano.

We decided to book, though considering we were two of only a handful of diners I think you can chance your luck.

The area surrounding the hotel is still a work in progress with roads disappearing into nothing. If you are driving here, park in Jeff's Shed near entrance 10 - it's then only a very short walk to the hotel.

Sotano© by Haalo

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Lunch @ Church St Enoteca

One of the good things about Church Street Enoteco is that whether it's something from the daily Market specials or the weekly Special Lunch menu there's usually something new or different to try.

For starters:

Church St Enoteca© by Haalo

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Lunch @ Les Boucheries Parisiennes

We've returned for another leisurely lunch. There's a bit more of a chill in the air so we foresake the usual bubble and begin with glasses of Henriques & Henriques Madeira.

For starters:

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

Duck Liver Parfait toasted brioche, blood orange reduction

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

lovely smooth texture with well developed flavour

as usual, Paalo can't resist the appetiser plate

Les Boucheries Parisiennes© by Haalo

Next is a special treat from the kitchen:

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

Tuna Carpaccio pink peppercorn, spring onion, chive & lime dressing

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

We've not had this before but we'd happily have it again. Melt in the mouth tuna offsest with a pleasant crunch from the peppercorns, acidity is well balanced in the chive and lime dressing. Light and refreshing it certainly enlivens the tastebuds.

For mains:

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

Homemade Fish & Chips tartare sauce, lemon wedge (From Express Lunch Menu)

An absolute bargain at $14 - juicy fish encased in a wonderfully crisp batter, a tangy tartare and pomme frittes.

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

Wagyu Beef Sirloin, served with confit shallots, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, red wine sauce (Speciality Menu)

You can never go wrong when ordering the beef here, this is no exception. Rich flavour, tender meat cooked perfectly.

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

Sautéed Spinach ($6)

We decide to round off the afternoon with a cheese platter

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

From top right, Comte Gruyere - Pave D'affinois (cow) - Chevre Cremeux Fromage D'Affinois - Rouzaire Fromage de Meaux - Sainte Maure - Truffle Brie - Papillon Black Label Roquefort - Saint Agure

Les Boucheries Parisiennes©by Haalo

The details:

Les Boucheries Parisiennes
268 Toorak Road, South Yarra

Phone: (03) 8256 1636

Lunch - Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm to 2.30pm
Dinner - Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to late