Sunday, May 15, 2016

Humble House (Brighton) 05/2016

At the beach end of the impressive Church St. shopping strip this Chinese restaurant is well placed for well heeled clientele. It looks nice too with white covered tables, linen napkins and a very clean look about it. 

It has an extensive menu of the regular fare. We had the opportunity to try quite a few dishes.
Hot and sour soup.

Won Ton soup

Crab shells

looked nice but could I not taste any crab and it was over seasoned .

a big serve very nicely prepared.
Eye filet with Szechuan sauce.

The sauce was nice but the filet was very ordinary and the dish was dead dull.

A nice but totally undistinguished meal.
Prawns in a cream sauce.

Very fresh and inoffensive dish.
The food was very fresh and the service prompt BUT there was very little 'Chinese' about the taste of these dishes.
Score: 12.5/20

Monday, May 09, 2016

Ides (Collingwood) 05/2016

When it comes to new restaurants almost everyone is trying to do something to distinguish themselves from the rest, and go one better too. Ides, a tiny Smith St. restaurant is certainly following that pattern. 
Decor is simple, 

table settings are basic with faux leather table covers 
and round back chairs. 
Bread arrived promptly with creamed peanutty butter. 

This would do for dinner.
The menu is a six course degustation - four mains and two desserts at a set price $110/person.
First came Jerusalem artichoke three ways. Served on a cream cheese cooked in vinegar with onion seed, chives and parsley 

Extremely unusual and quite interesting but also quite a strong tasting first course dominated by the ginger.
This was followed by dish of smoked eel and lentils

in a sweet potato broth.

This worked remarkably well. Not that most diners would care but it demonstrated originality and technique combined to make an outstanding dish.
Blue eye cod with cabbage on a strip of turnip

was too clever by half. The cabbage taste and smell overwhelmed the fish which was far to well cooked for our liking. Others however, we were told, thought it the dish of the day.
The last main was pork belly with a corn paste served on a sweet miso fig jam.
Very chewy. After being scored, salted and allowed to dry the belly had been alternately cooked at 250 degrees and then rested for 25 minutes three times. Personally I prefer the skin to be crackling and the meat to be falling apart tender. The accompaniments were too sweet but, of course one did not have to eat them!
First dessert was a rice crackle with extras
Followed by a persimmon figoa staircase!
Chefs came out often to serve and answer questions.
They have a modest wine list and a few cocktails. I had a sake which I did not care for and a Clare Valley Nebiola which was light, smooth and ideal for the meal
The menu changes very frequently which might be a good thing but I think the principles they work by are constant. The result is dishes with a lot of ingredients, which do not always work well, in an endeavour to produce innovative and exciting cuisine. No doubt this works better for some patrons than others and on some nights than others. 
Ours was an up and down experience. Definitely a place for the adventurous and for foodies.
Score:14 /20

Monday, April 25, 2016

Truffles (St.Kilda) 04/2016

Is this a cake shop posing as a cafeteria or vice versa? 

Not an uncommon combination these days but Truffles is a bit different because the food has a distinctly Polish orientation. Their version of an opera cake for example, is far from the French one we are used to.

They have a board of specials,
 and a laminated one page, two sided menu. 
This might not have been much of a draw card for me but for one dish- Flaczki, better known to us as tripe soup. Except for the RACV, which has a tripe club which meets a few times a year, and an occasional yum cha if I want tripe I usually have to cook it myself. Not any longer. It's a chef's special on the menu every day.
The food is not expensive and the menu offers an assortment of dishes such as borscht, pirogi and schnitzel as well as a small range of traditional Anglo Saxon (is that PC?) dishes such as eggs Benedict.
It's a pleasant open venue. 

I came for the tripe soup which was excellent. 

The tripe perfectly cooked, the soup tasty, not over seasoned and a couple of thick slices of lightly toasted bread. ($12) Also tried the Chef's platter - a bit of everything. 

This was very average. Everything was OK but nothing stood out Borscht OK, Herring salad OK, Pirogi two each of Sauerkraut and mushroom, pork and beef, creamy potato and cottage cheese of which only the potato had any appeal, sauerkraut salad OK and bread and butter ($22) 
I'll be back for the Flaczki
The cakes will have to wait for another day.
 Score: 13/20

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Tommy Ruff (Elsternwick) 03/2016

After a less than exciting previous visit we thought we might try this suburban seafood restaurant once more.
Nothing, including the menu, had changed that I could see, since our last visit. Crowded and noisy

 We chose to sit outside, quite comfortably despite the wind and cool weather. 
This is a place without pretensions. Cutlery, menus and serviettes sit in boxes on the bare tables.

 The menu is largely fish. Tommy Ruff is a sort of cod fish. It can be battered or baked, you can have veggies or chips and a variety of sauces and they have some salads. They also offer platters, 

prawns, bugs,mussels and more. In the right hands this has the potential to be quite excellent. No where near  when we were there. 
Sandra chose a baked whole flounder
Seriously overcooked it was dry as a bone.
Salmon also failed to impress
 Fish and vegetables
was also just Okay 
What good here. Service is friendly and efficient, Serves are quite substantial and prices are very reasonable.
It is popular with locals who patronise the place regularly so it must have something but I don't know what.
Score: 12.5/20

Man Mo (Wharf District, World Trade Centre, Melbourne) 04/2016

We were all set for a great night. The sun was slowly setting leaving a colourful backdrop to sillouhetted buildings. It was very inviting.

 Massive stone figures stood guard outside the restaurant.
 No doubt we had come to the right place
 They have a modestly priced wine list with a bit of everything. Wishing to try before we buy I asked for a taste of a pinot that they also sell by the glass. Nothing wrong with it but no one liked it. I chose another. Sorry, the manager has a policy and will not permit more than one wine to be tasted! They were unbending which we all found extremely irritating - who wants to buy a bottle blind and find it unappealing so guess what we drank beer!
 or cocktails.
 We went for a selection of entrees starting with short soup which was not especially good, or bad, about average.

Maybe they suspected something as they brought salt, pepper and soy sauce which they removed after we finished the soup.
 The next course was much more exciting Kataifi mandarin scallops.
 This was both delicate and delicious.
The next entree was Garfish stuffed with mushrooms on a mushroom sauce.
 I don't want to eat garfish any other way. The flesh was moist almost falling apart tender, the equal of any fish and better than I can ever remember. Nicely presented too.
We then had a couple of mains. A dish of prawns with vegetables in a light sauce was another delight to the eye.
 Unfortunately it was almost tasteless although the products were the freshest and best quality

A dish of spinach also failed the taste test.  Asking to see the whole barramundi we ordered with ginger and shallots we were presented with a live fish flipping around in a bucket. Enough to make one hesitate. We ordered it anyway. It arrived at the table transformed. 
It looked magnificent and had been cooked just right. Still there was a big problem. Somehow they failed to season the dish so it was another great look but disappointingly bland.
We also had a dish of fried rice with plenty of of prawns but in the end short on taste.
Comments: It's a beautiful restaurant, well spaced large tables, white linen cloths and napkins, attentive uniformed wait staff and not terribly expensive, we spent $70 per person. It scores well everywhere except for one failing - the food lacks taste.
Score: 14/20