Saturday, March 07, 2015

Woodland House (Prahran) 03/2015

Despite some general reservations about this sort of thing , by this I mean this sort of degustation menu, as a meal I have developed a great liking for this particular restaurant. You have to be aware of my bias here because it is certainly not a meal that would appeal to everybody, no matter how good the individual dishes are. The five or eight courses may have carbohydrate, protein and fat and quite a few vitamins  but it does not aim to be nutritionally balanced or healthy. It;s entertainment and fun through food and eating and it is a display of skill, talent and technique not seen in any but the very best restaurants.
These meals are invariably presented by extremely courteous, well mannered wait staff, often dressed better than their clients if not in the house uniform.
Here they were prompt, offering bread frequently, and quenelles of their celery salted house creamed butter
and attending to supplies of water and ice without needing to be called  One expects nothing less. Here we are paying a little extra to enjoy being pampered. Dishes were presented at a reasonable rate.
Some were extremely small but nothing like the extreme in this where a course has been known to be no more than an aroma, or a single small leaf, which we experienced at Alinea.
This, with a few comments, was our menu:
Foie gras, kiwi
About as big as a double size jelly bean, the foie gras was liquid and unrecognizable!
Salt baked abalone, enoki,duck consommé

The  consomm√©, which was delicious, was poured from a cute open mouthed ceramic porpoise.
2009 Coteaux du Layon Carte d`Or Domaine Baumard , Loire Valley, France
Air dried tuna, two paper thin tiny slices with silken tofu, wasabi and a spot of caviar.
 A curiosity.
Alaskan snow crab, samphire cucumber
2013 Soave Classico DOC, Pieropan, Veneto, Italy
Murray cod, jamon, pickled kombu, radish
Sustainably farmed, a very fine fish.
2012  Bannockburn Chardonnay, Geelong, Vic, Australia
School prawn, spring onion, red rice.
Not on the menu this was an incredible dish, wonderful texture, delicate flavour and textural variation.

A real go to dish if it is on their a la carte menu.
Western Plains pork, chestnut grilled pear
It is a shame to serve two tiny bites of a dish as excellent as this one is. Twic as much would be more satisfactory.
2013 Moulin A nt ‘Les Trois Roches’ Pierre Chermette, Beaujolais, France
Sher wagyu, burnt eggplant, miso and sesame
Six hours at 64 degrees resulted in this beautiful taste filled meat. Very satisfying dish.
2010 Starlane Merlot, Beechworth, Vic, Australia
Gippsland lamb fillet, saffron, lettuce, cured belly
We requested blue and got this.
The chef was apologetic and produced this.

Both were excellent! 2010 Agricola Punica Barrua IGT, Sardinia, Italy
Buckwheat and white chocolate, raspberry vinegar
Charred mango, apricot and yuzu, pistachio
Not overwhelmingly sweet, a good end to the meal
2013 De Iuliis Late Picked Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
 cheese course is an extra $15
a la carte available Tuesday and Thursday 4 Courses $90 | 5 Courses $110 | 6 Courses $130
Our meal $235 including wine $145 without matched wines (I think!)
Score:16.5 /20

Monday, February 23, 2015

Real Food Movement (Windsor) 02/2015

To stimulate interest TripAdvisor or Zagat or other foodie sites occasionally list things like the 10 best restaurants, pizza houses, hamburger joints or whatever. One that sometimes comes up is the 10 most unusual restaurants. This one would be a candidate in my book.
There is so much to say about this place/idea that I don't know where to start. It is a most unusual concept. Effectively a cafe/restaurant without a kitchen, not even a microwave. but they do have a steam oven It's just for reheating, not for cooking. I don't think they have coffee either but they certainly have unusual tea or more rightly tisanes. It was no surprise that it is cash only.
They are not licenced nor do they have BYO. They don't even have bread and butter!
I think it started as the brain child of Mellisa Tal. At that time, about three years ago, the mother of a two year old with a desire to bring affordable organic food to the public. Real Food Movement is the result. Just south of Hgh St, it is easily overlooked.
The shingle doesn't have a name on it, or an image. It's just a bunch of branches and leaves. 
There is a name in quite small lettering on the the window
 They also have a screed about their philosophy on the window

and there is a menu stuck on it too. 
Looking in one sees a bench top with ear phones hanging at intervals. These are set up to play meditation music, a different kind of muzak which you can take or leave. The decor is odd. A swing hangs on one side of the room. 

There are temperature controlled cabinets all around with the food they serve in glass bottles sealed with clips.

Whatever decoration there is is more branches and leaves. The back wall has cleverly hung plastic bottles with herbs growing from them.
There is a central table, which is bare wood and that's about it. Evidently most of their business is take away. Patrons reheat the food in their own microwave ovens. Apart from their labels there is also nutritional information wit each item.
I had a serve of slow cooked lamb cheek with goats cheese and eggplant ($15) which took 5 minutes to warm in the steam oven and was DELICIOUS
 and hey gave me a nice box to take home a couple of desserts.
took home a couple of desserts. If you return the bottles they give you 50 cents refund off your next purchase.
The desserts were a superb Chocolate cream with crunchy nuts called dark chocolate brulee and a goats cheese creation which was too dry and too sour for my taste.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Le Petit Lapin (Elsternwick) 01/2015

This is a very new 'chocolate' cafe a little isolated from the dense shop front areas of nearby streets. It's very simply furnished 

with indoor or outside seating at a variety of different size tables. Staff, under the watchful eye of attractive and enthusiastic manager Christine Sakkar, are young and keen. It has the usual sorts of things: Tea, good coffee, a small range of house made patisserie, 

sandwiches and rolls and so on visible in glass cabinets.

A white chocolate mousse cake with sugared nuts in a dark chocolate shell ($5) 

was more like a fudge in consistency.  Not too rich it was still nice with my machiato ($3). What makes it different are the range of crepes and the the chocolates. They use chocolate imported from French master chocolate maker Michel Cluizel for their chocolate drinks and also offer a hand made range of chocolates from the local (Heidelberg) manufacturer Chocolatier

These sell for between $1.50 and $2.50 each. They are very good quality and very pretty with a good range of flavours but I did not find them to be outstanding.
I love the name, I love the idea and I wish them well.
Score: 13.25/20

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tulip (Geelong) 01/2015

*Click on pic's to enlarge them.

This is quite an unusual restaurant for a regional city. It looks fairly typical with an open kitchen at the end of the room 

and a bar at the corner of a large L shaped room with bare brick walls. Decor is simple and furniture reminiscent of Ikea. Polished wood tables are bare except for white linen napkins and cutlery. White painted wooden chairs are provincial and rather hard and uncomfortable and a little low for short clients. There is an attractive little court yard fountain visible from some tables 

but it remains a fairly sterile environment.
The menu has a wide variety of unusual dishes. They also offer two chef's choice menus - four 'waves' $65 or six 'waves' $90. A wave is several courses so our six wave meal ended up as at least 10 courses all of which, I think, were on the menu. 
The dishes came in a slightly mixed order but basically starters were followed by mains and ended with dessert.
A good variety of tasty table olives and smoked almonds were offered to start.
These were quickly followed by salt and vinegar pork crackling.
Large creamy Coffin Bay oysters with ponzu was another pleasant but not special starter.
 Next was a salad of tomato, dried anchovy, bocconchini and samphire. This was exceptionally appealing with both cherry tomatoes and Russian blacks adding extra flavour.
A dish of fried baby prawns with smoked mayonnaise was another textural pleasure. 

The mayonnaise had a slightly bitter, but not unpleasant, taste from the smoke.
Cured ocean trout, lightly pickled cucumber and a dressing of dashi powder with some edible succulents followed quickly.
 I found the trout very bland and felt it needed longer and perhaps a better curing mixture - some dill might have helped.
Wessex Saddleback capocollo - cured pork neck, was another excellent starter though by now we had eaten quite a lot to still be having entrees.
It was dressed with a few dobs of a thick bean and cauliflower paste that did not add to the excellent pork.
After all this we came to a series of main dishes starting with a completely out of this world beef brisket cucumber and smoked vignaigrette.
The brisket was cooked to perfection, moist, full of taste, meltingly tender. I would have it first, second and third it just cannot get any better,
 A series of superb salads came next. Mixed grain, including quinoa and fricca, cauliflower and almond salad with goats milk yoghurt

could convert me to health food!
Roasted and pickled pumpkin salad, salsa verde
was next which was flavoured with a little chilli.
Salad of steamed kale, pancetta, hazelnuts and egg vinaigrette
was the best way I have ever enjoyed kale. The flavour was outstanding and the textures beaut with the crunchy hazelnuts.
 The final main was a scotch fillet which looked and tasted like porterhouse to me. No matter it was cooked perfectly for me but too blue for some people.
 Cheese Caprinelle
A rage of cheeses including a bree a blue and manchego precede the dessert.
Chocolate pave, a set chocolate mousse on a biscuit base, caramelized white chocolate and thyme ice cream. 

Served very cold it improved as the mousse warmed.
Tea and coffee were served with cubes of white chocolate fudge with pistachio inclusions.

 It was a very rich finish to an extremely good very very filling meal. 
 Comments: We had an extravagant meal cooked with care and flair. The dishes were imaginative, interesting and a joy to the palate particularly because of the fine matching of sauces and vinaigrette to the food, the mark of a top class chef. Service was friendly, informed and well spaced. They have an adequate reasonably priced wine list. We drank an amiable young Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz ($58/ bottle).
I only wish the chairs were a little more comfortable.
An excellent restaurant. Far and away the best we have eaten at in Geelong
Score:16.5 /20