Monday, April 24, 2017

Jackies Corner (Mildura) 04/2017

This small, alcohol free, shop front eat in/takeaway Chinese diner is well placed at the start of the main restaurant area in town. They offer a basic menu of Cantonese style dishes, 
which is displayed on their window and in the the restaurant in the style of McDonald's Hungry Jacks and the other fast food outlets.
The kitchen, where chef, assistant, kitchen hand and the person taking orders, presumably Jackie, is open to view.
They have a small very plain area for eat in patrons with four tables and bench seating.
I tried a couple of take away dishes. They were exactly what you would have expected from any suburban Chinese restaurant 40 years ago. The prices are quite high for what you get - $12 upwards for dishes with rice and around $17 for dishes without rice.
Comments: Dull food
Score:13 /20

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trentham Estate (Trentham NSW) 04/2017

This place, as with many vineyard restaurants, has a beautiful setting with pedicured lawns running down to the the banks of the Murray river

and, of course, sustainably farmed Murray Cod is on the menu. 
There is a short drive from the road to the car park before one gets a choice of Cellar door or restaurant.

They have simple, unadorned bare wooden tables, especially suited to some of their youngest clients,
and a wall of windows looking over a patio dining area and the river.

Skye on the left, looked after me admirably.
and also took my photo!
I started with tempura prawns as an entree. ($18)

It was a prawn salad with masses of rocket, tomato, avocado and mayo keeping half a dozen nice sized prawns company. The batter was light and no too fatty and the prawns not at all overcooked.
For  a main course I had the Cod. ($35)
It was a nice size fillet served with a slice of lemon on a generous bed of asparagus, at least a dozen spears, with a beaut fennel and orange salad and some decorative strips of cucumber. This is an extremely delicate fish, both in texture and in taste. Cooked well it's superb and this was.
I enjoyed a glass of the Family Vermentino $7 a glass but $16 a bottle at the cellar door
before moving to the adjacent tasting room where I easily spent four times the price
of the meal on a dozen bottles of port and muscat.
This is a family friendly cafe style restaurant serving very good quality meals, simply presented in a gorgeous setting.
Score 14/20

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Botanica Formrrly The Rustic Olive (Mildura) 04/2017

Formerly called The Rustic Olive 
this restaurant was taken over by new management; Chef Dag Demarkow and his wife, Michelle, managing at the front of the house. Looking at past reviews it might be a hard act to follow.
I felt very comfortable when I walked into this large multi-columned room with it's well spaced tables.

pleasant lighting and fans spinning from the ceiling.
Seating is very comfortable too, chairs have padded seats and high padded backs.
The red carpet is a bit tired but still adds to the atmosphere.
Paper covered white clothed tables are good size.
I started with an entree of mussels in a tomato sauce with chorizo and basil served up in a Belgian mussel pot.

This was an excellent dish. The sauce was well seasoned, the chorizo not too spicy and the mussels plump. The ingredients melded well. The grilled bread perfect to mop up the last of the sauce. The only downside was that four of the fourteen mussels had not opened and it was a struggle to find some way to get the mussels out of their shells,
My main course was locally farmed Murray cod. A very fine fish.
Served on a bed of perfectly cooked asparagus With little towers of slices of potato, roasted tomato and a delicious lemon butter sauce. Every element was excellent although I felt the tomato had been roasted until it was too dry and hard. Still an excellent dish.
They have a small wine list, most bottles about $36 and by the glass about $8. I had a glass of Cab/sav which was served in an unusually coarse glass, not a pleasure to drink from! 
Service was friendly, well timed and really tried to please. 
This is the new kid on the block. The menu is not the same as The Rustic Olive and there's nothing rustic about it. For my money (it came to $65), after Stefano's which is an entirely different sort of place, it's the best a la carte restaurant in Mildura.
Score: 15/20

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thai-Riffic (Mildura) 04/2017

Thai-Riffic is another Langtree St. restaurant.  It aims to provide authentic Thai food with a modern twist. Many restaurants provide a small introduction the origin of their names, when they are not self explanatory, to their aims, and occasionally to their history. T-R does that in spades having pages of information about what their food will do for you and lauding some of their dishes and the health benefits of their food.
They have an introduction, a page of 'Important' information, a note about the use of cutlery by Thai people and they promise (with some dubious explanations):
You will have more immune boosting power
Your heart will be happy
You'll look (and feel) years younger
You'll fight off cold and flu viruses
You'll sleep better
Who knows but when I read stuff like this my pragmatic Western biases become overwhelming.
The venue is simple with bare wooden tables and hard wooden seats.

Decor is largely images of Buddha.

Light bulbs are enclosed in large shades, reminiscent of is sea urchins, or hairy lobster pots.
How did they do.

Tom Yum soup.

The plate was round of course! A pretty standard dish. Up to expectation.
Combo 2, A Thai fish cake, Tempura vegetables and Chicken with three sauces.
The tempura batter was full of oil, the fish cake badly overcooked and dry and the satee sauce for the chicken very very mild, as were the other two dipping sauces - one a sweet chii and the other a standard tempura dipping sauce
Tempura Prawn Spring Rolls.

I did not taste this but apparently it was passable but not more than that.
Money bags.
Evidently tasted about as good as it looked.
Moo Krob

Evidently this is so popular that they warn you that it may not be available!
There was plenty of crisp pork belly buried under the salad and it presented well but even with the addition of cracked pepper, chili and herb salt it remained unexciting.
Massaman Curry
According to the menu rated as the tastiest dish in the world. I guess they did not taste this one.
Pad Hokien Pork

A pleasant sweet noodle dish.
Khao Pad Pork

Left me flat.
Comments: Failed to achieve it's aims on this occasion. Very over rated.
Score: 13.25/20

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

En Izakaya (Balaclava) 04/2017

This could be called our local Japanese restaurant. It's the nearest to where we live, barely over a kilometre from home. We eat here several times a year and have reviewed it twice before see
Virtually nothing has changed.
We started with an attractively presented eel sushi.
This was very tasty accompanied by excellent sweet pickled ginger.
These sticky rice balls 

look exactly like what we had years ago but today they incorporated chicken and eel instead of beef.
An eggplant and tofu dish was new to me.
This is a pic from 2014 which shows an identical dish, seen in the next pic, served today. It is a cold dish of thin sliced wagu on a block of fine silken tofu topped with sour cabbage and a slice of garlic. 
 Not only is the dish identical,
but my view of it remains the same. I remain unimpressed by the wagu but the total dish was very good, particularly because of the fine tofu.
Eggplant with tofu was another unusual presentation 

with the roasted eggplant in broad slices interspersed with tofu, topped with see weed. A nice dish but not outstanding
Sashimi was fairly standard
but the fish was a bit thickly sliced. 
Score:13.5/20 (Previously we scored them 13.5 and 13.75)

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Province (Mildura) 04/2017

There are a few restaurants scattered around Mildura but the majority of them are in Langtree Street, which is quite central, or very near by. They range from the very ordinary to the very good. Province purports to be towards the  top of the range. It has an air of quality. The room is carpeted. Tables have white cloths under butcher paper and linen napkins.

Decor is inoffensive with
a nice flower arrangement at one end of the room.
The menu is not large, about half a dozen entrees, called Antipasti, around $18, except for a shared platter of charcuterie, half a dozen pastas, $18/38 and half a dozen mains, called Secondi, $35 to $37 except for the Bistecca alla Florentine ($45)  but there is enough variety there.
There are a lot of things that are a bit off centre for many people that I particularly like such as tripe, sweetbreads, tongue, brains and eel so I was especially pleased to see an entree featuring smoked eel, house made creamed ricotta, caviar, squid ink and crostini. ($18)
It was beautifully presented. 
Unfortunately what I expected to be the hero of the dish, the eel, was almost undetectable and when I did get a bit of it the smoky part was only on the menu and not on the dish! The cheese was bland, the crostini, a couple of thin toasted slices of bread brushed with olive oil, didn't help much and the squid ink paste was really all for show. Italian bread, whatever that means, perhaps ciabatta, ($10) was on the menu but otherwise bread was not served.
My main course, lamb neck, ($38), 
also very nicely presented, served rare, as requested, it was adorned with baby peas, a little garlic puree and cherry tomatoes accompanied by a light, very tasty jus.
Unlike the entree it was excellent. Not enough for a filling meal but I wanted to get back to see something on TV so I called it a night. 
A bit on the expensive side and a little inconsistent.
Score almost 14/20