Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fish Frenzy (Burnie - North West Tasmania) 08/2017

Fish Frenzy occupies a smallish space beneath Bayviews Restaurant and Lounge Bar. 
The fore court of this eat in/takeaway fish and chip cafe is adorned with some marine animal like sculptures which struck me as the sort of thing that might scare small children!
Built in the style of many small cafes blackboards advertise the menu's but they also have 

table menus

The place is rather bare, clean and very plain. 
They also have newspapers for patrons.
Apart from fish and chips

and oysters
they also have salads - calamari salad

prawn salad
and sushi
They must buy it in. 
Rather than just the usual vinegar, tomato sauce, mustard, salt and pepper their counter features! an assortment of cookies
For all that it remains a fish and chippery with frills.
Score: 13.5/20

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Bayviews Restaurant and Lounge Bar (Burnie NW Tasmania) 08/2017

After a taste of a couple of entrees I was keen to come back for their 9 course degustation menu and was lucky to find someone to join me. I wrote about the venue on a previous blog and will not repeat that here.
I doubt there is anything like this between here and Melbourne and if there is it would not be as adventurous.
Here’s the menu, which is preceded by some small chef’s offerings
A small arancini ball of chicken and chorizo
Amuse bouche
The oyster was particularly tasty
Citrus, coriander seed pepper dusted Southern calamari, romesco sauce, roasted peanut, coriander, thai basil, bean shoots, nim jam dressing.
Perhaps a bit over complicated, nevertheless the elements melded well and it was very pleasing with it's great variety of tastes and textures.
Pan roasted Bannoch farm quail, celeriac and radish remoulade, sweet corn veloute,crispy chorizo, parsley oil.
A super dish. I could eat this everyday!
Wild mushroom risotto truffle oil, charred red peppers, spring onion oil
The truffle taste, and their special odour, got lost somewhere between the kitchen and the table.
Pan roasted Macquarrie Harbour Atlantic salmon, fragrant yellow coconut curry  sauce, crispy local cuttlefish, roasted pumpkin, lime leaf yoghurt, red mizuna, fresh herbs

I guess it's my fault I forgot to mention that I like my salmon just barely cooked. This was just a little over cooked for my taste which made it a bit ordinary instead of being an exquisite dish.. Once again it was a dish made more complicated than it needed to be to get the best from the salmon.
Sous vide poached chicken breast in Masterstock, sesame lemongrass broth, pickled ginger, organic noodles, pickled diacon, and fresh herb salad.
Sous vide is great for fish, interesting for red meat but really adds nothing to chicken breast. Indeed it is less moist and tasty than a good roast chicken. the accompaniments, without the chicken, made a very good broth. 
Sorbet tamarind ice cream, A super little palette cleanser.
Tasmanian Midlands venison shoulder slow cooked in red wine, juniper and pepperberries, braised red cabbage, roasted and pickled beetroot, white onion puree and water chestnuts.
This meat could have been cooked forever and I think it would still have been stringy. It was about as good as it could be cooked that way. I think it would have been better if it was just seared on the BBQ. There was no taste of venison left. The pickled beetroot and the puree made the dish.
Pre dessert
Kaffir lime pannacotta, lemon thyme jelly milk chocolate, rice crisps, wattle seed tuile.
Totally delicious!
Peanut praline semi freddo, caramel, almond crumb, chocolate mousse, flaked almonds, mocha soil.
A fitting end to a pretty good meal.
This menu was $130/person with matched wines for a further $45. At a good Melbourne restaurant it would be double or more and wines considerably more.
The menu is extremely extensive, perhaps with an excessive number of ingredients for many of the dishes, some of which were sometimes totally lost. or so subtle that their contribution to the dish was unrecognisable.
For all that I loved the variety. The quality of the produce was unquestionably excellent, presentation was attractive and the dishes were never boring.
It’s also a lot to eat so if you have that menu start early.
The matched wines would have left me dangerous to drive home and not at my best for work the next day so I settled for a glass of Josef Chomry Chardonnay and later a McLaren Vale Shiraz having tried and not cared for a Relbia Estate Pinot Noir.
Score:16.25 /20

Secret Buddha Cafe (Burnie NW Tasmania) 08/2017

Perhaps this name means something to someone, certainly I’m not that person.
It’s a small cafe at the entrance to a nursery,

a bit out of the way for a cup of coffee or a a lunch but well attended doubtless because of the nursery.
It occupies a hexagonal shaped room with a central pole supporting the ceiling. I don’t know the architectural term for this shape structure.

Bits of it have been cut across to give room for a ‘boys’ and girls room,

for a fireplace 
and a larger part has been isolated for the kitchen and serving area.
Menus are on blackboards but there is table service.
The furnishing is eclectic auction room or roadside discard style. 
There’s a rack of odd magazines and a local newspaper. Comfortable and unpretentious. I liked it equally as much my waiter’s old and well worn tartan trousers (he didn’t know what clan they represented)
They make there dishes in house but virtually everything is ready to heat, or toast and serve.
I started with the pate.
A good size serve with fetta cheese, cornichons and leaves and plenty of warm toasted baton.

It was straight out of the refrigerator - too cold to be experienced at its best. It was quite lightly seasoned with pleasant taste. The cap of duck fat was easy to remove if desired.
I went on to the sea food chowder. They offered me a half serve.if I wished. I took them up on that so as to try something else.
Stuffed with prawns, mussels, strips of calamari and some salmon in a thick sauce this was very nice but again under seasoned.
for a finale I  had a toasted Panini with mushroom, garlic, lettuce and fetta.
It was as promised with a little red cabbage and bean shoot salad. 
They have an excellent fetta that made the panning a pleasure to eat. The garlic was very good too, just there but not unbalanced.
They served me a good large cup of coffee with a palate cleansing small glass of soda 

but I skipped the cakes and cookies.
It cost me $43 for a very decent lunch.
A beaut little cafe for lunch or a snack.

Score: 13.5/20

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Roma Pizza (Lititz) 01/2017

Looking back I see we never reported this visit to Roma Pizza
We visited here in 2009 and, 2012 and 2014. See http://1001dinners.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/roma-pizza-lititz-09.html 
At the time wrote that we would come back and we have.
Virtually unchanged the calzone was and remains outstanding.
Comments: Consistency is very satisfying when it's good.
 Score:13.75 /20 Still a very good score for a Pizza place.

Fellippe Melbourne CBD) 07/2017

Perhaps Philippe Mouchel will have more success at this subterranean site than a number of his predecessors. certainly he was busy enough last night with only a few empty tables and customers still arriving at 8.45 pm. The venue is unchanged from when Brooks was here. Decor is pleasant. Good sized white clothed tables have paper protection.

Chairs are hard and not comfortable but there is a soft backed settee running the length of the wall.
They have a couple of glass cabinets featuring meats, cheeses and other produce. 
The busy Saturday night had an unexpected down side for us. They had a seafood platter on the internet menu but not on the table menu. Some were lucky enough to get that but it was sold out when we wanted to order. Soup was also sold out! They have a Plat de jour - Saturday night is Cassoulet night - guess what, sorry no more cassoulet available. The one page menu is quite small so there were few attractive choices.

We had had a superb charcuterie platter at  Phillipe's Russel St restaurant (I think it was called FM 15) a few years ago but I wanted something different. We settled on sharing two different entrees, a beetroot cured salmon and a snail dish.
A pretty presentation the salmon was as good as it looked. The accompanying salad delicate, colourful and did not dominate the salmon which was superb.
Snails with free range egg "en meurette", mushrooms, leek and croutons ($21) was another story. 

Meurette sauce is a wine sauce rather like gravy, the egg in this recipe is poached, firm white with a runny yolk. it was as it should be but the snails, I think there were four of them, were no way enhanced by the rest of the dish. they need not have been there at all.
We were very limited for mains (Plats principal) The duck dish ($55/person) was for two and I wanted variety and did not particularly feel like duck. The vegetarian option did not appeal and I did not want a fillet of snapper so that left the meat.
I settled on the slow roasted lamb with sweatbreads and eggplant ($40) and Sandra chose the Waghu rump cap ($60).
The lamb was nicely seasoned and cooked as requested. The sweatbreads, on a stick with a strip of bacon dividing them were good too but it was a tiny serve.
Sandra's waghu was a bit chewy as you would expect 
and never had much marbelling.
Our waitress suggested we have a side dish (Accessoires) and we chose the char grilled cos lettuce with Caesar vinaigrette and croutons ($9)
a great choice, we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
The dessers (Gourmandeses) were not exciting but if we waited 15 minutes we could have a souffle. Yes please.
It looked fantastic. Unfortunately the texture was all wrong, almost cake like and grainy and the liqueur overwhelming.
Our waitress tried to be helpful but struggled, not being able to make sense of her notes which appear to have been written on a paper serviette or a Kleenex tissue. She knew nothing about the wines. they have quite a good list and they are not excessively marked up.
I'm finding these little touches of French or Italian on menus a bit pretentious. We all know what they are. It's about time they stuck to English, or if they feel the need to acknowledge the origin of their menus useFrench or Italian or whatever!!
Score: 13.75/20

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chatter 55 MasterChef Biases are Painful When There's $250,000 at Stake 07/2017

MasterChef Australia had it's grand final last night. Of the original 24 contestants it came down to a battle between Diana Chan, an attractive Accountant and Ben Ugermann a personable Retail manager.
At the beginning of their last 'cook' Ben was three points behind. 
It was a fiendish task to reproduce Kirsten Tibbals a incredibly difficult dessert featuring three beautiful reproduction fruit, filled with complex ingredients and flavour, in four hours. They both struggled and had faults and failures but Ben's effort appeared to be clearly superior and the first two judges saw it that way. Ben scored three nines.
Diana scored eight from Gary Meaghan and eight from George Calombaris. She needed nine from Matt Preston to win. 
Despite her dish being clearly not not as good as Ben's, guess what - Diana scored nine and became the MasterChef winner for 2017.
Diana is a fantastic cook and taken overall is a worthy winner, but not on that night and that's not the point of this post..
The fact there is something remarkably unfair about the whole show.
Consider this.
There have been eight seasons of MasterChef.
Each season begins with 24 contestants and ends with one winner. Twenty three have been eliminated. Eight by 23 equals 184. There have been a few more eliminations because each year one eliminated contestant wins a place back in the contest.
Unbelievably, despite the extremely coarse scoring system, not once has there ever been a draw!
I can think of no other competitive situation except a beauty contest where this could happen. 
Where results are determined by as little as 1/100th of a second there are dead heats. With gross measures where there is approximately a 10% difference between a 9 and a ten, or even more between an eight and a nine this can only come about by collusion among the judges.
Ask any body with a knowledge of statistics.
I wonder if Matt Preston felt a little sick when he drew the short straw to administer the 'coup de grace'.
Pity there is so much money involved because, at the end of the day it leaves a sour taste being so obviously a rigged television cooking show.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bayviews Restaurant and Lounge Bar (Burnie NW Tasmania) 07/201`7

 Burnie continues to surprise me. I had been told that Fish Frenzy had the best fish and chips but had no idea that there is a fine dining restaurant above it. Asking about restaurants had resulted in several recommendations but Bayviews had not been mentioned.
It's a fantastic site 
 overlooking Bass Straight, right at the waters edge.
The restaurant offers inside and out side dining in a spacious rather asceptic looking venue
I thought I might have an entree before going home to dinner and was surprised to be offered an amuse bouche of pear, prosciutto and goat cheese in a herb infused olive oil. 
Several entrees looked appealing and I settled for the quail.

 It was boned well and cooked perfectly, just a little pink. Served with celeriac and fine strips of daikon in a remoulade with crispy chorizo and parley. It was so good I decided to have a second entree of mussels.
Another surprise, a palate cleanser!
And then the mussels.
From the East coast these must have been the most enormous, plump and tasty mussels I have ever eaten. Served in a rich white wine broth with a touch of lemon, chili and garlic with linguini, and coriander which made what added up to a really fine dish.
The only thing I would have liked with both these dishes was a roll or a slice of good quality bread.
Not only do they have a very nice menu but they also offer a six or a nine course degustation menu with matched wines if desired for about 60% of what it would cost in Melbourne.
Next time. 
Score: 16/20