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

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Block 7 Kitchen (Camberwell) 16/03/2016

Only five months old I suspect Block 7 will become increasingly popular. While we had our meal Gilbert Lau of Flower Drum fame came in with a party for dinner and another luminary, the Grand Dame of Chinese Gastronomy in Victoria, Elizabeth Chong, 

also dropped in.
This is a typical small suburban restaurant. In it's time it has housed a couple of banks, a Japanese restaurant and another Chinese restaurant.
 It's a simply furnished high ceilinged room 

with a clean neat appearance. Clothless tables display the day's specials, the menu, a minimum of crockery and chopsticks.

We let the Dixon Chan, the proprietor and his chef choose our menu.
The first entree, beef roll with crisp fresh greens, was excellent although it did not display any cooking skill. The dipping sauce was essential to make it a tasty start.

This was followed by a very well seasoned soft shell crab on a basket of lettuce

Mongolian lamb ribs were to die for.
To add to the enjoyment we indulged ourselves with a BYO 2001 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy winning Pepper Tree Cab/Sav which had been well looked after in our colleagues cellar and was in perfect condition.
Barramundi in a light sauce with shallots and a touch of ginger was also as good as it gets.

This came with a sesame seafood fried rice that was especially tasty.

We finished with a fried custard in batter for dessert which was not something I particularly care for. We requested the ice cream which is not normally a part of this dish.
This is an excellent "NeoCanto" Chinese restaurant with pleasant ambiance, good service and excellent food all at reasonable prices. They also have very inexpensive lunch deals, take away and deliver locally and, as the sign says, daily Yum Cha.
Score: 15.25/20

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Copper Pot (Seddon) 02/2016

You get a nice feeling about this place. It's a slightly upmarket suburban restaurant that would fit comfortably in more noted Melbourne eating areas.
The Michelin man with his Latin "It's time to eat" lightens the atmosphere.

Menus, which are not extensive, are concealed but offer a chefs tasting menu as well as sharing options.

One of our favourite dishes, bread and a herb butter!, was served early.
Beef tartar was a modest serve between four of us. Good taste but I rather like a raw egg on top for me to mix in the meat myself. The thin crisp toast was excellent.

A serve of Spring Bay muscles in a light curry sauce was the best I can ever remember and sent me to Prahran Market to get them as soon as possible ($9/Kg at Claringbold's) The were plump, tasty and without blemish. A dish not to be missed.
We topped up the one chip / muscle!

A small palate cleansing salad was quite undistinguished
While one little fish each left us wanting more.
Main course was not up to the standard of the previous dishes.

and an extra dish, spatzle, was very disappointing.
Dessert was a tiny profiterole. With wine, at $100/person, this was an up and down meal. If they can iron out a couple of things Copper Pot has potential to be a very good restaurant.
Score: 14/20