Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Donovan's (St.Kilda) 03/2015

Yep, Donovan's is open again and catering for diners with an attempt at seriously good food.
The place has had a facelift and looks better than it used to. The interior has been altered although the original structure is still evident.
The Greek columns outside and the brilliant views along St.Kilda beach from the window seats are unchanged.

Their menu contains lots of their former dishes, denoted by a little line drawn house on the menu, and a lot that is new. There is also a heavy promotion of their name on glasses, plates                                                                                        

and so on. 
Tables are bare

 and bread is served with both butter and a bean dip.
Their 'crudo' selection was yellow fin tuna, finely sliced over a dome of vegetables dominated by avocado and a strong lemon taste.      Rather unbalanced I thought.


My preferred starter was the twice cooked soufflé of Beaufort and Reggiano chees with vineyard snails and parsley sauce $24.00
Unfortunately the souffle was very bland. A pretty dish and the little garden of snails, cream fraiche and ?spinach puree was lovely to see and eat.
Beef cheek in a very cheesy macaroni sauce was too rich for comfort.
On the other hand BBQ'd snapper could not have been more plain. No messing around with the hero of this dish. The fish did the talking.

It did come with potato wedges and a few lettuce leaves.
A linguini marinara was undistinguished and seriously overpriced at $52 as a main course.

The best looking dish we had was a bomb Alaska to share.

Ultimately I felt that they tried very hard but did not quite succeed in producing really good food.

Score: A bare 14/20

Brooks Bros (Melbourne CBD) 03/2015

It's a while since we have written anything here a we have so much, excuse the pun, on our plate just now. We revisited Brooks from which one of our favourite chefs  Nicholas Poelart, has now departed. The food is different but it is still seriously good. Prices are at the upper edge of the range with a couple of special dishes like Grade 9+ Waghu at $125. 
You can see it in their display case and it is obviously the real deal. I saw it at $250 a Kg in Malvern Rd. last week if you feel like making it at home!
Desserts are another high point.

 Service is notably good under the supervision of Brian Lloyd, who worked with Shannon Bennett for many years at Vue de Monde and at the Point with Scot Pickett.
Score:15 /20

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  consommé, 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